What is the Best Backup for Windows in a Small Home or Office? (SOHO)
This is the question I asked myself over two years ago. At the time I recommended the SynologyDS210j and I still would if they made it!
It’s now been replaced by the DS212j, that’s it on the left.
This though, is essentially the same as my old one and in fact, in appearance it’s the same. My DS210j has functioned perfectly for well over two years. It just sits there, quietly doing its own thing and has never let me down.
My friend has just bought a D-Link ShareCenter 2 Bay Cloud Network Storage Enclosure since they didn’t want to spend so much…
It’s less than half the price of the Synology and tomorrow evening, I get to set it up!
The specifications, included software, and operating system functionality are almost identical to my Synology. You know, stuff like media server, web server, iTunes server, backup drive, security camera monitoring, the list goes on..!
The reviews, however, say that it is noisy, though my friend says this isn’t an issue since it’s going in a cupboard with the router and internet gateway. It does seem to have a smaller fan than my little white cutie, so that could be it.
Some reviewers had difficulty setting it or its software up. Well actually, I’ve had a few difficulties myself with the DSM software from Synology – if you’ve not done things like this before, it can be difficult and confusing. It’s not Windows after all!
So, watch this space. I’ll get back later when it’s all done.
What is the Best Backup for Windows in a Small Home or Office? Which Windows Backup? A History. Over the years I’ve tried many systems for backing up crucial Windows data. Currently for small-scale backups I use the ubiquitous and almost bullet-proof flash drives, my current one tipping the scales at 8Gb. But for major...
Another day, another Microsoft security alert.. This morning, another raft of advisories arrived in my mail from Secunia, this is one; Internet Explorer Data Binding Memory Corruption Vulnerability This rivetting title is like deja-vu. Time and again we’ve seen this. This is the fault of a company, Microsoft, that puts form before function, functionality before...
My Web Host Penalised Me Yet Helped Speed Up My Site
shared web hosting
This site used to be hosted on Site5, in Texas. I had a shared web host account, about the cheapest there is on Site5 though by no means the cheapest around (I’ve had experience of really cheap hosts….). It worked alright, site management was good. Then, I got hit by spammers. Twice. Big time.
Each time, this slowed the site down, made life hell for other shared accounts, especially when I introduced WordPress plugins to counter this.
Naturally, Site5 advised me to stop the hits or they’d pull my account (they’d already temporarily disabled it). They advised me to cut the plugins, using GoDaddy’s plugin testing tool, WordPress Plugin Performance Profiler (P3). So I did this, and after some trial and error, got the running processes down. Of course, I lost a bit of neat functionality.
Apart from internal WordPress testing, it pays to test your site as if you are someone else somewhere else. Pingdom have a set of tools that does just this, testing from various global locations and I can recommend it.
I used an iterative approach, testing various combinations of plugins and systems to end up as being in the top 8% sites for speed in the world! Not bad for free is all I can say! You’ll see in the screenshot above, that 92% of websites are slower than mine…. So is it really free? Here goes…..
WordPress (which this site uses) is built by the Automattic team and naturally have expanded over time. I’ve used their plugins for many years, Akismet from the off, which is a comment spam blocking system. Latterly, they came out with Jetpack, where they say,
Supercharge your WordPress site with powerful features previously only available to WordPress.com users.
Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that supercharges your self-hosted WordPress site with the awesome cloud power of WordPress.com.
P3 Selected Output
This is all well and good, except when I tested it using the P3 plugin profiler, Jetpack was the biggest drag on everything! The worst part of it, was that actually, I was only using a small part of its features and it was still the biggest suck on performance.
I didn’t use Carousel for photos since I had an old solution, NextGen Gallery, that I’m loathe to change.
The comments system mucked up all other comment plugins, grabbing all for itself (a bit like Microsoft here!)
I used the stats, and that was about all, yet they were very slow and not that informative, actually.
Nearly all the other stuff I looked at, tried and ditched for similar reasons.
So much for the awesome cloud power. On top of this, you’re now supposed to pay for parts of Automattic’s offerings, like Akismet, the comment spam blocker while a major offering of theirs was actually slowing my site right up!
What Did I do?
Well not initially, actually, though the heavy-handed Site5 approach got my ire a bit I must admit. I did do loads of tests with a host of caching, anti-spam and page load improvement plugins first…
I now use Vidahost in the UK. The site is faster to manage (along with my others) since the servers are in the UK with me, and it’s cheaper, providing almost the same functionality and tools as Site 5. I took the opportunity to clean out a few dead files in the process, but essentially, all was moved, database and files. The lot. Just twiddled config.php and the .htaccess file a bit.
I did worry that my American visitors, who are actually in the majority, would suffer slower speed and thus I’d get hit in Google rankings, but hey, wait for later…!
I got it all working and as part of the whole “thinking” process since the very first warnings from Site 5, I’d been looking for better things.
Looking at Things Closely
I like Related Posts. Related Posts plugins do just that. I love the idea of pulling out meta-data relevant stuff from a website. Site 5 had said, as have others on the web, that this sort of plugin makes big hits on a site. Some of them really do! I use YARPP, with a limited subset of features enabled which cuts down processing.
I also like Andrew Ozz’s Shutter Reloaded which shows images nicely. I also like his post editor, TinyMCE Advanced, it being the best of many I’ve tested over the years.
I like NextGEN Gallery having used it since before WordPress got all image fancy. I haven’t got time to fiddle with thousands of photos now…
I’d like some statistics within WordPress.
I’m not that interested, any-more (though I was) in Social Networking sharing features. Truth be told, if someone wants to share, they will.
I’ve read a lot on image improvements. I’ve always shrunk images manually before uploading using the excellent IrfanView application. But during this enforced research, other things like sprites and delayed image loading popped into the equation.
So I like certain plugins or functionality. I try and use the one that works best for me. Too many plugins make a big hit on the server and thus website loading.
A way round this is caching. e.g. If a post is created and has related posts clagged on the bottom using YARPP, then the post is cached and YARRP is only running once. How and where the caching is done is the crux of the issue…
Site 5 suggested W3 Total Cache as a better alternative to Wp Super Cache, which I’ve used for years. Naturally, I’ve tested this and my conclusion was that it could be fast, and it was fast for a while, but over time on each of my sites I got issues around lock-ups and the huge and complex caching system around files, databases and sprites. This list is long.
I’ve also tested various database query caching plugins likewise over the years. W3 Total Cache incorporates this method too, but ultimately, it made too much work for not a lot of difference IMHO, since I’m lazy.
However, it did point me to one thing! CloudFlare.
Ah. The power of the cloud is back!
Not only that – it works!
You re-direct your DNS at your domain registrar (joker.com in my case) to CloudFlare’s DNS servers, set up the site malware protection level you want – then after a few hours your whole site is cached and protected. Best of all, it’s free for a little site like this!
In fact, using CloudFlare speeded everything up even before I got caching going again…
Further Plugin Work
Now, I went back to Wp Super Cache from Doncha and it all works fine. Site speed good. I then ditched Jetpack after testing it again. It really does interfere with all comment plugins, and I really like this comment one as do people who comment here:
It works great and does everything I want. So Jetpack, it’s bye bye. Take all your fancy commenting system, your stats, your social media and fancy image handling.
But What About Comment Spam?
Stop Spammer Results2
Stop Spammer Results1
I’ve found the best solution is a plugin called Stop Spammer Registrations Plugin. It needed a bit of fine tuning and a re-activation of Akismet to whip out a few wisps of spammer, but it works and seems to trap and report more spammers than ever Akismet did alone. Akismet, by itself, does the commenting bit in tandem with the plugin, rather well.
Unfortunately, during testing, a few unwanted visitors managed to register on the website. They can’t do real harm since I use the lowest role level at registration time. So I re-enabled SABRE and since then, no more unwanted visitors. I’ve tested SABRE as a visitor and the settings I’ve chosen are just about right – I’ve had issues with it previously when it blocked registration! But reducing the feature set and re-uploading a clean plugin fixes that.
CloudFlare and the CDN Issue
I toyed around getting a CDN to host images. But they (can) cost and anyway, I’ve gone off Amazon and others because of their anti-Wikileaks actions plus they don’t pay UK tax…
Delayed Image Loading
However, in the course of my reading, I found that images can be loaded just as the page comes into view, which speeds up page loading, and as a consequence the perceived nippiness of a site. The plugin BJ Lazy Load does this for me and works brilliantly. Check this last post about Australia which has a lot of medium sized images to see them pop into view!
Well, Jetpack is gone. I won’t be using it unless some serious improvements are made, it being the prime reason for the server load that brought me to this position in the first place. As soon as I disabled it (and simultaneously blocked all comments to the site, which isn’t the best thing, this being a blog after all), all server loads went away.
I now use SlimStat and it works very well. I’ve tried many over time, including Google’s analysis tools, my webhost’s stats tools, Wassup and more, but for now, this is it.
My site works pretty fast and is pretty protected from the bad guys. I actually still use more plugins than what is usually recommended – 50 is a huge lot according to web gurus and sages. Currently there are 31 in active operation with 8 inactivated. I love trying new ones, it’s like that, that’s just the way it is.
The delayed image loading is particularly apparent on a post with a lot of images, say this recent one. The post loads fast and you see the first images load, and as you scroll down you’ll see other images appear with a slight delay.
All the other stuff is incremental improvement, with the biggest, by far, being the free CloudFlare service which I cannot recommend highly enough. It’s a no-brainer, go and do it?
My Full List?
These are the plugins currently running that help my site work. Many are for security, which demonstrates the state of play versus the bad internet guys full well.
For no reason …other than a try-out and also the current anti-spam plugins miss the odd bit of comment spam, I’ve now switched off TanTanNoodles’ Spam filter and am giving WP-SpamFree another try plus another plugin, AVH. I’ve left Akismet running regardless. WP-SpamFree This now promises a lot, so it’s worth another shot. Two years...
Introduction I’m a born twiddler. Even though something works quite happily, I’ll try something else. So it was yesterday. In an effort to improve the ‘user experience’ and promote a bit of feedback on this website, I’ve been twiddling with various plugins. Caching for Speed Some time ago I changed caching methods from Donncha’s WP...
For some time now, any web page that uses Flash has resolutely refused to work correctly in the Chrome browser for me. I use Windows 8 – 64 bit. Amazingly it all works fine in Firefox, 64-bit Firefox Nightly, Opera, IE10 in 32 & 64 bit incarnations….?
The solution from the chrome help page, is to enable Flash from the plugins menu. You type this the address bar to get show all the plugins.
Chrome Plugins Normal
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work!
Checking the plugin, I see it is apparently working alright! See the screenshot.
I decided to try a “flip” – turning off Flash still didn’t make it work – and neither did it work when I turned it back on. There’s an Enable/Disable toggle link for this which you can see in the screenshot.
But then, in the top right of the plugins screen, I spied a “detail” link! So I clicked it to expand it – and all is revealed!
Chrome Plugins Expanded
Adobe Flash Now Working
The issue is that there are two Flash plugins; one is the default “pepper” that comes with Chrome; the other is installed manually and works in all other browsers.
The solution, after a little trial and error, is to disable the native, cross-platform Flash player, “Pepper”, and to enable the manually installed, most-recent, version. It still won’t work if Pepper is enabled and the installed version disabled. The Adobe Flash test page now works in Chrome, as you can see.
Below is a screenshot of how it should look (well for me at least!) to get it all working properly.
Testing Firefox 64-bit Right Now! Actually, I tried the 64 bit installs of Firefox and Internet Explorer soon after I installed this Windows 7 64 bit Operating System. They were both pants and summarily removed from my hard drives and I haven’t revisited for over 2 years…. But now things seem on the up. 64-bit...
Possibly More Cool Than You Think It Will Be With the tag-line “Possibly More Cool Than You Think It Will Be”, Browser Ball is a demonstration of the work going on at Google specifically at their new Chrome web browser. See this page. It’ll also take you to some other demonstrations of the Chrome Experiments. ...
Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-R: Is this not a work of art?
I’m afraid my old TZ7 (which replaced my earlier TZ5 due to my clumsiness) has now had to be replaced with the new TZ30. The reason? At some unknown moment, my usual dollard-ish clumsiness put a scratch on the lens….. the whole recent trip to Australia is marred (to my eyes at least) by a fuzzy mark off-centre at 2 o’clock.
I wanted the red one as it’s a beautiful thing indeed. In fact, I hunted to get one at a good price within a reasonable time-scale, but have settled for the black one for cost and because I can get it now!.. (The Panasonic DMC-TZ30EB-K).
Gratuitous photo of Iggy Pop from October 25, 1977 at the State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It’s now on the way so watch this space for my opinions and results later!!. I’m extremely hopeful due to the reviews I’ve read.
I’ve waited and have passed over the TZ20 and other incarnations due to unfavourable comments and lack of substantial change in their features. Now, the TZ30 has tipped the balance for me. The GPS feature introduced with the TZ10 hasn’t had much interest to me, but maybe this’ll change all that!
Specification Highlights for me are:
The 20x optical zoom (naturally) in a body that’s less obtrusive than my current TZ7.
Better ISO performance – reputed to be very good at low light down to ISO800.
Better burst mode shooting. It’s supposed to be 10 fps whereas my TZ7 only does about three…. I have some stop-action movie ideas that I started with my old Fuji FinePix F30 that I’d like to continue and expand upon. The F30 did reasonable frames per second whereas the TZ7 is just too slow for the effects I want.
Semi-automatic panorama shooting. Much better than the old manual stitch mode….
Rapid autofocus (AF) – reputed to be 1/10 second. Combine this with burst mode and nature and sport shots should be great with at least one being on the button.
The only one I’ve spotted that directly affects my expectations is that in burst mode, the auto-focus is fixed once the burst starts, at 10fps. However, to counter this the feature is more variable than I’m used to in that with burst mode set to 5fps autofocus and zoom work concurrently! This definitely needs playing with!
My Standard Expectations:
Minimal blue/purple casts or fringing at high contrast edges.
Wonderful summer shots with vibrant colour.
Much better focus changing in video zooming.
My Quantum Leap Hopes:
The same or better sound quality that the F30 and TZ7 delivered. Both produced full non-clipped audio sound at rock concerts! The TZ7 does it in stereo. (see my Iggy Pop video below, discussed in this post, Iggy at Hammersmith).
Much, much faster autofocus and burst shooting than I’m used to. This includes the continuous autofocus & zoom at 5fps mentioned earlier.
Much better auto-focus on video zoom especially and pictures generally. I’m hoping the intelligence of the thing has been re-jigged…… To explain…….
The tendency on my TZ7 is to focus on the near-field whether it’s bright or dark. Yet I want it to focus on what the human eye drifts to, i.e., bright objects. On the TZ7 I’ve had to use human intervention to override the camera expectations….
The video below shows this.
For me the prime purpose of a compact camera is to get the best shot possible as fast as possible.
At the Stooges concert at Hammersmith below, I’d waited for ages and then suddenly the band came on and kicked off immediately! There was no time to prime the focus because I knew I’d miss some performance, so I had to make allowances for the camera deficiencies by pulling back zoom and trying to get autofocus on the bright areas by field drifting.
Ideally, I should have asked Mr Pop to restart his concert so that I could stop the video, auto-focussing on maximum zoom to distance and then restarting the video before he kicked off again. ;-) Obviously that wasn’t going to happen so I did the best I could without missing any of the performance of my historic bête noire idol.
As it was, my guess was right, even to continuing filming without a break, because against all rumours and knowledge that the Raw Power album was to be played in order, it wasn’t! Search & Destroy immediately followed Raw Power.
A few test pictures using the “Starry Sky” setting on my Panasonic Lumix TZ5. The pictures were done using a tripod at the three timer settings that are inbuilt for that setting; 15s, 30s & 60s. The sky was quite brightly lit due to some thin mist acting as a reflector for the urban lighting....
After driving through blizzards to get there, I took this little video of King Edward’s Bay en route to the Gibraltar Rock Inn in Tynemouth. It was freezing and I was shivering…. What it demonstrates quite effectively, is the anti-shake at work on my camera and the fantastic level of zoom it has. The colours...
The DWP have lost in the courts again after a tribunal today ruled that the Atos run Work Capability Assessment (WCA) disadvantages people with mental health problems. This follows a string of legal decisions ruling against the DWP as they … Continue reading → […]