Tag Archive: DVD

What is the Best Backup for Windows in a Small Home or Office?

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 backups, as the years have passed, I’ve used;

  1. Floppy discs – 1.4Mb
  2. Iomega Zip discs – 100Mb
  3. CDRW – 650Mb
  4. DVD-R – 4.7Gb
  5. Western Digital My Book Home Edition – 1Tb

They all had their problems and limitations.  The last one looked good with Firewire, USB2, ethernet  & eSATA connections – but it overheated and broke…..

Best Windows Backup!

My current system is from Synology and is a “DS210j – Budget-friendly 2-bay NAS server for Home and Small Business”

See: http://www.synology.com/enu/products/DS210j/index.php

I can heartily recommend the thing.  It has so much gubbins within it and far exceeds my limited expectations.  I installed two green 2Tb drives from Western Digital  in mirrored RAID for security and use the auto-backup software provided as well as Windows’ own.  This is extremely relevant for the large number of hits I’ve had to this posting where a major part of the problem is the time taken to do a backup!  In my case, the 750Gb just takes a few hours to copy across the Gigabit speed ethernet that the unit can use.

Addendum June 2011: The tool is a seriously capable bit of kit and I cannot recommend it enough. Get one!

It does everything it says on the tin, and more!  The whole thing cost me about 200 quid, plus an hour of my time to install.

Even its firewall is more configurable than any router I’ve used!  It can be used as a server for FTP or the web.  It comes with software for a host of things that mimic Flikr etc but without all the privacy or security issues inherent in off-line storage.  It’ll also run with any operating system because it itself is a mini-linux installation as it is,  and includes Windows, Apple and Linux applications.
Check it out, straight from their overview page:

Build Your Entertainment Center

Download Station 2 functions as a 24×7 BitTorrent, FTP, HTTP, eMule, and NZB download center. RapidShare and RSS download are now supported.

DLNA Compliant Media Sever ensures compatibility and interoperability between Disk Station and a wide range of DLNA-certified home devices.

iTunes Server provides an easy way to share music and videos with other iTunes clients within the local network. You can create playlists with songs that match the criteria you specified, and best of all, iTunes will update these playlists automatically as you add or delete songs.

Audio Station supports music, Internet radio stations, and iPod playback with connected USB speakers. Web-streaming mode allows your music to be shared with multiple users over the Internet.

Back Up Your Precious Data

DSM 2.2 offers comprehensive solutions for you to back up data stored on Disk Station or your desktop computer to the Disk Station.

Server backup includes two alternatives: Network Backup and Local Backup. Both allow you to back up data in the shared folders and databases. Incremental backup option and flexible schedules are available. All can be easily configured with a step-by-step wizard.

Desktop backup provides Windows PC users with the Synology Data Replicator 3 for backing up desktop data, Outlook, and Outlook Express emails to their Disk Station by choosing one of the three backup modes: Immediate, Sync, and Scheduled backup, while Mac OS X users can use Apple Time Machine backup application to back up their critical data to Disk Station.

USBCopy allows you to quickly back up your data from an USB storage device such as an USB flash or USB card reader to the Disk Station with just one single touch on the front-panel Copy button.

Enrich Your Web Presence

Photo Station 3 simplifies photo, video, and blog sharing over the Internet. The flexibility of photo theme customization, blog layout arrangement, visitor’s privilege setting, RSS feed, and the dazzling 3-dimentional photo browsing with Cooliris make Photo Station 3 your state-of-the-art lifestyle sharing center on the Internet.

Web Station with built-in PHP+MySQL allows users to publish their own websites or install numerous popular open-source programs.

Access With Your iPhone/Mobile Device

The iPhone App DS audio allows Disk Station users to stream music stored on Disk Station with their iPhone/iPod® touch where Internet access is available, while DS photo allows uploading photos from the iPhone/iPod® touch to their Disk Station.

Users with a mobile device running on Windows Mobile® 6.0, iPhone OS 2.2.1 onward, or Symbian OS 9.1 can log on their Disk Station to view photos with Mobile Photo Station and read supported file formats with Mobile File Station where Internet access is available.

Eco Friendly

Eco Friendly

Synology Disk Station is designed and developed perpetually with the concept of energy saving. Compared with average PC counterparts, Synology Disk Station consumes a relatively low amount of power and has the HDDs hibernate when not in use. This not only helps to save energy but also extends the lifespan of the hard disk.

Synology Disk Station truly earns the title of “green product” because of the unique Scheduled Power On/Off feature, and the smart fan design effectively cools down the system with minimum power consumption, yet keeps the system quiet on operation.

Finally, all Synology products are produced with RoHS compliant parts and packed with recyclable packing materials. Synology recognizes its responsibility as a global citizen and is continually working to reduce the environmental impact of the products we create.

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UK’s Sensible Energy Chief tells it Like it Is – Like Me!!!

Subway sentinel

Blow my own trumpet

The statements this week, by the UK government’s chief energy scientist, are right up my street.  See Britons creating ‘more emissions’ on the BBC.

It’s obvious really.

  • Over the last few decades our (meaning the UK and all western nations’) manufacturing industries have collapsed.
  • Yet we can still buy stuff, more and more stuff actually.
  • By making stuff, we, as humans invariably use energy and create pollution as either a by-product of energy consumption and/or the manufacturing process itself.
  • Where is the pollution if we don’t make it here?
  • Overseas obviously, where the factories are….
  • Where are the factories?
  • In China, mainly.

This much we all know, but we choose to forget it.  We want a DVD, we buy it.  We don’t care where it was made or how it got here.  All we want is it to be cheaper than yesterday.

Beautiful or not - you decide!!

Industry!

And the same goes for everything.  Even plastic bags….

Trumpet

And so to my trumpet-blowing.

Back in May 2008 I posted exactly the same as Prof MacKay has so eloquently said.  He said that all our supposed anti-pollution efforts ……….

are an illusion.

And he’s also recognised the duplicitous facts of our behaviour in making China et al the arch-culprits of pollution —  because they are not.

They behave that way because they are copying us and our actions since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

Back in May 2008 I said,

China is the great factory for the world. While the rest of the world struggled, China just got on and made stuff and did stuff. The result is lots of pollution. Basically, it’s exported pollution from all the global companies that moved their production to China over the last few decades. In other words – it’s our pollution, but in China!

Industrial Revolution

Ironbridge: 1779. Dawn of the Industrial Revolution?

Now finally, someone at the top is saying the same and we might finally get some positive action to reverse our spiralling energy consumption and physical debt to the planet that we live on and from which there is no escape.

Hooray!

The Professor said this,

“Back in 1910 we were burning per capita the same amount as Americans do today so that’s an argument for saying we really have an ethical duty to take a lead and show the way and show that it is possible for a developed country to seriously de-carbonise its economy.

“By historical emissions per capita the top three are America, Germany and Britain so we are right up there on the winners podium for carbon dioxide emissions per person over the last 125 years. “

….which is a firm statement, putting the guilt and the ownership of affirmative action soundly onto our shoulders, specifically the UK, Germany and the USA.  He’s saying ‘we’re the ones wot done it – we should fix it’!!

Cause and effect?

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How to Convert a Dynamic Disk to Basic Disk in Windows 7

How to Convert a Windows 7 Dynamic Disk to Basic Disk When  Microsoft says It’s Irreversible!

Firstly, Do Not Dance with the Devil!

I made the mistake (again!) of trying dynamic disks with my new Windows 7 installation.  I must have been asleep – the use of this system is seriously frowned upon for most users.  It has several pitfalls not least that it’s high-end Windows specific (i.e not home, basic etc), and it’s impossible to clone partitions for backup or moves, say.

But mainly, it’s supposed to be irreversible AND un-do-able!

Dynamic Disk Option

Dynamic Disk Option

To convert from basic to dynamic is frighteningly easy (see screen shot).  The reversing option disappears once it’s done and in virtually all Disk Partition Software,  any ‘partitions’, now called volumes, just show as one big monolithic slab of pale yellow disk that has any possible action greyed out!  This was really bad as it was on the system drive…

You’ll see in the screen-shot that there are 3 disks.

Disk 0 & disk 1 were an effort at user-data mirroring originally until I realised what I pile of poo I’d just landed in.  All the initial  recommendations were negative and the prognosis didn’t look good.  See:

Solution

HxD Screenshot

HxD Screenshot

However, this post gave me a pointer which eventually led to here and the HxD disc editing tool, here.   The Dynamic Disk Converter is a paid for solution and would have worked.  But I tried the Hex Editor approach after a bit more reading around the subject….  WARNING: See my comment on Dynamic Disk Converter here – added 27/7/2010(SP)

The trick, as in Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is 42!

Specifically, all 42‘s must be converted to 07.

The highlighted area contains the bit to edit and the numbers to edit in this area are those in column 02 that are 42.  So change all the 42’s to 07’s in column 02 in the four highlighted lines.  (n.b. The screendump was taken after I’d fixed the disc, so all the 42s are now 07 and some partitions have been deleted.)

That’s all.

Do NOT twiddle anything else.

Caveat

This post in the thread says to just alter one line – this is wrong!  (There’s a confusing addition at the bottom.  This relates directly to my experience, so yes, all real primary partitions are numbered 07)

And this post says to do them all – this is right.  It shows 3.

In my original pre-editted state, I had 4!  Handily, this shows the reason (I think), why you can only have 4 primary partitions on a drive.

Finale and Actual Actions Summary

Current Disks

Current Disks

Now you’ll see I have only two 07’s in the column (in the screenshot above).  These map to the two partitions showing in my Disk Management full screen-shot here.  For some reason, it had ‘remembered’ other volumes I’d made on the disk – that’s why I had 4 to do.

I was quite prepared to buy the paid-for software.  It looked good and worth the cash.  Instead:

  1. I very tediously moved ‘volumes’ into ‘partitions’ onto a third disk I entered into the system.
    1. This later disk needed it’s partitions resizing first to make room.
    2. It was hot-plugged using it’s SATA into the wire from the DVD as I didn’t have any spare SATA wires!  Doh!
  2. The moved data was from disk 0 & disk 1, all relevant stuff going to disk 2.
  3. Deleted all the volumes from Disk 1
  4. I could then set Disk 1 to basic using Windows as per Microsoft instructions.
  5. Moved all user data back to C-Drive volume (I had been in the process of separating data from programs).
  6. Backed up C-Drive volume and system state using Windows 7 Backup tool to new partition ‘BACKUP’ using all of Disk 1
    1. This was in case the following hex stuff failed.  It would allow an easy restore by:
      1. Install windows from DVD onto Disk 0
      2. Use Windows backup to reset system state and all the files & programs on the C-Drive on Disk 0
  7. Now used the Hex editor to edit the disk sector information as described above.
  8. REBOOT (fingers crossed!)
  9. WAHAY! It worked.
  10. Removed pseudo partition remaining on Disk 0 to leave unallocated space  – I think this was due to the invisible 1Mb database that exists on dynamic disks.

Plans

I’ve now got two new hard drives in the post.  When these have arrived and are installed, I’ll use standard tools to move partitions and get user data onto a RAID mirror assembly.  This will increase data integrity and give me a better backup.  You’d think that outboard backups would be fine, wouldn’t you?  Well I bought a Western Digital 1TB Studio Edition which worked okay for a while….

But it ran so hot the eSATA/USB circuitry failed!  I dismantled it and found the drive to be okay – this is the third disk, Disk 2 in the screen-shots!

Now, I have a new system with a better,  heavy-duty power supply, adequate (and quiet cooling), with the whole thing protected behind an APC UPS which I’ve had for a year.  Sticking to basic disks should make backups simpler and the whole thing should be more reliable – certainly more so than the WD Studio thing which is a pile of hot plastic pants.

p.s. added 5/12/2010: read this for my new recommended fast backup solution: http://strangelyperfect.tv/10155/what-is-the-best-backup-for-windows-in-a-small-home-or-office/

p.p.s. added 01/03/2012: I now recommend that folks use the free Easeus software, http://www.partition-tool.com/personal.htm  This will fix dynamic discs using a familiar graphical user interface so is way less scary.  Thanks to those that pointed this out.

p.p.p.s. added 11/11/2014:  I now find AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard Edition works very well and I use it very much.  It has a large feature set for a free utility.

Stick to basic Disks – you know it makes sense!

Further Reading

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Problems with Conficker or Downadup?

Or How to Disable Autoruns

– to Stop This Particular Infection Route

This is a brief summary of what to do…
  1. Make sure you have a proper anti-virus program running
    • NOD32 is a good one!
    • AVG is too
    • Kaspersky, Trend, CA are also good brands
  2. Make sure your anti-virus is current and updated.  Check like so:
    • Somewhere on your program will be it’s last update
    • For NOD32, hover your mouse cursor over the little icon next to the taskbar clock (bottom right in XP)
    • As well as version numbers, the last update shows in reverse date format – 6 Feb 2009 is 20090206
    • Other programs are very similar and the last update is usually pretty obvious so you don’t need to fiddle with settiings etc.
  3. Disable autoruns as this is a good way for the virus/malware/trojan to get you
    • This is the best and easiest way to do this:
Copy This Text:

REGEDIT4
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\IniFileMapping\Autorun.inf]
@=”@SYS:DoesNotExist”

Open Notepad:

start -> run -> type ‘notepad’ (without quotes) and hit Enter on the keyboard

Paste Into Notepad:

Now paste the copied text into Notepad

Now Save the File:

Call the file a handy name like “StopAutoRun” but make sure it has a ‘reg’ extension!

So your file should be called something like StopAutoRun.reg

Now Run The Reg File You’ve Just Made:

Double-click the file – your registry will pick up the change and the handy autorun feature will be disabled!

Of course, you may be used to using this “handy feature”.  If you want to keep it, don’t do any of the above but be very, very, very careful about any USB stick you insert into your computer, any CD you insert or play, any video you watch on DVD, and any network you map or connect to…

What About if I’m Already Infected?

How to Clear and Eliminate Conficker or Downadup?

  1. Connect to the internet with a “good”, clean computer.  You may need to borrow one or visit a friend’s house..
  2. Download a clean up program – the NOD32 version is here: http://download.eset.com/special/EConfickerRemover.exe Other Anti-virus makers have similar ones.
  3. Copy the tool you’ve just downloaded to your own PC and run it.   It may take a while and you’ll definately need a reboot afterwards.
  4. Install and/or Update a good Antivirus program (see above at top)

Further Reading and Information Sources

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Use the Green Stick, Mr Postman!

Workers and ordinary intelligent users of the Post Office Royal Mail system (“the post”), must be very worried by the latest news about the holistic vertically integrated business that was “the post” being further split up and creamed off.

see 50,000 jobs at risk in break-up of Royal Mail or Royal Mail faces call to change

The writing was on the wall when the year 2000 split law (twat Blair) came in.

Previously, if I ordered some goods mail-order, I’d collect at the local sorting office.  After 2000, and increasingly so, if I miss the delivery to my home (as do 90% of people as we’re at work), I have awkward and useless phone calls followed by refusals to redirect and finally, in the case of crap CityLink, a 70 mile round trip to Exeter Airport!

In the last case above, it was to collect an item costing about £30.  I wasted 90mins of my time and 2 gallons of diesel costing  a tenner!

This was all because the mail-order company can save 50p over Royal Mail rates.

Just look at the environmental cost!  It’s absolutely appalling.

I used to deal with Dabs many times, Dabs.com.   I no longer use them.  Why?   Because they were bought out by …BT, formerly part of “the post” and the service is falling badly.   They don’t use Royal Mail to provide the delivery service!  See above for the twisted logic.

Home Delivery Network – former FedEx, White Arrow & Littlewoods business.  Another one creaming away core business from what should be an efficienly run SERVICE. Try phoning and re-arranging…

DHL (sorry, it’s my lot) – stinky unhelpful Taunton office with crap opening times.

Amtrak – dismal and pokey warehouse in Taunton.  Vehicles held together with stick tape.

All the above have long transport distances for collection of things that only recently got delivered no bother at all.  THIS ALL COSTS. The sneaky underhand method at purchase time is that the full cost isn’t shown on a web purchase page.  If Misco said that the true cost of an OEM DVD writer was £16 + VAT + £4 postage + (£10 and over to collect it) + 90mins of your time during the rush-hour traffic after you’ve finished work early to get the time to collect it, I think people would think twice.

The sad thing is that “the post” had until recently a wonderful local network of collection points that most people could walk to… (called post offices!)

The only way the mail can fight back against the blood-suckers is to level the playing field towards a proper environmentally friendly inclusive SERVICE.  Make ALL businesses who want to do the work, legally obliged to take all packages that are handed to them all the way from door-to-door for the cost of a stamp and make them responsible for the full economic cost that the receiver of the package is currently forced to pay.

Currently, drive on the motorway at night and you’ll see a few hundred high artics transporting the high-value cream that used to be “the post”‘s work.  It’s no wonder they can make money.  It’s the cream.

Let them try a proper service where the whole cost to the environment is accounted for.

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