Backup Tools - Mirror Backups and Microsoft SyncToy

October 15, 2007

hard drive head mirrored

One of the best ways to backup your documents and files is to perform a mirror backup. As I have mentioned before in 20 Pointers for planning your backup strategy. The simplest backup strategy can often be the most effective one.

A Mirror backup simply consists taking a complete copy of documents and files and storing them in alternative location. Unlike a traditional backup, the files are not compressed or encrypted. Restoring the backup is either a simple process copying files back or pointing users to the mirrored location. Mirror backups are a great addition to your primary backup solution and effective way to restoring files quickly.

Windows Copying Issues

To perform a Mirror backup you can simply copy files and directories yourself to backup location. You can automate the process by writing a batch file and schedule the task using Windows Scheduler. Although, Windows has a couple of issues when it comes to copying large amounts of files. Often Windows will halt the copy process if it encounters an error with just one file. Another bug bear is when a the process stops to ask the user if they would like to over write existing files. This is fine when copying small amounts of data, but a real pain when you leave Windows to copying large amounts of data that may take a number of hours.

How to use Microsoft SyncToy

Thankfully, Microsoft have produced a free tool called SyncToy, which can over come Windows downfalls. SyncToy allows you to perform a number of file copying operations:-

  • Synchronize: New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes on either side are repeated on the other.
  • Echo: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.
  • Subscribe: Updated files on the right are copied to the left if the file name already exists on the left.
  • Contribute: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are repeated on the right. No deletions
  • Combine: New and updated files are copied both ways. Nothing happens to renamed and deleted files.In this example, we are going to create a solution that would allow a user to automatically backup files to a location over the network simply by running a shortcut on the desktop.
    1. Download and install SyncToy
    2. SynToy - First Screen
      Run SyncToy and click on Create New Folder Pair
    3. SyncToy -Create New Pair
      The Left Folder is where the originally data is held, the documents and files you wish to backup. Browse to the top level directory that contains these files and click on Next.
    4. SynToy - Right Folder
      The Right Folder is where you would like the data backed up to. This can be a mapped network drives, UNC path (\\server\folder\) or simply a local location on the same machine.
    5. SyncToy - Type of copy
      Next the tricky part, deciding on how SyncToy should copy the data. We are going to choose Echo, which is basically a one way. This saves on time and bandwidth by only copying new and updated files. Click on Next.
    6. SyncToy - Backup name
      Give your backup job a name and click on Finish.
    7. SyncToy - Advance Opitions
      Next your presented with an overview of your backup job. Click on Change Options…
    8. synctoy - file options
      Files to include - By default SyncToy will copy all files, you can change this to only select certain types of files. For example if you only wanted music files you might have *.mp3;*.wma;*.mp4;
      Check file contents - You might want SyncToy to check the contents of the file rather than relying file size and date attributes.
      Active for run all - SyncToy can have a number of backup jobs which can be run as a set. Un-ticking this means that this backup job won’t be included in a batch run.
      Save overwritten files in the Recycle Bin - Any files that are overwritten are saved in the recycled bin.
      synctoy - file selection
      You can choose which individual sub folders are included in backup job by clicking on Select subfolders.
    9. SnycToy - Preview run
      When your finished with additional options, click on ok and return to the overview screen. Next click on Preview button and SyncToy will give overview of what will happen when the backup job actually runs. If your happy with the results, click on Run and the backup job will run for real this time. That’s it!
      SyncToy - Running

    Automated the Process

  • As this backup job is going to be run by the user, we want to make the process as simple as possible. SyncToy has nice feature that allows it to run in batch mode by using -R switch. Open notepad and add the follow line “C:\Documents and Settings\<your username>\Local Settings\Application Data\SyncToy\SyncToy.exe” -R.

    notepad synctoy batch file

    You might need to double check the location of the SyncToy.exe as this varies depending on the version of Windows. Save the file with a .bat extension to the desktop. Now the user can simply double click on the batch file and SyncToy will complete backup jobs that have been defined.

    image

    Alternatively you can have Windows Task Schedule (Found in the control panel) run the batch so the whole process becomes automated.

    Author: Support @ 8:00 am




    How to move your WordPress blog and keep the traffic flowing

    October 7, 2007

    a lady moving house

    I finally got around to moving the blog to a different location on our website. This has been something I have been meaning to do for a while now, but was put off at the thought of loosing my web traffic. But fear not, using Redirection plugin you can keep the traffic flowing.

    I’m not moving my blog

    image

    Before you skip over this post, because you’re not moving your blog, think again. The Redirection plugin has a very nice feature that allows you to redirect 404 pages, which is just a technical name for missing pages caused by broken links. The plugin logs any occurrences of 404 pages along the URL address of the page requested. To stop this happening again, you simple provide the 404 record with alternative location.

    For example I noticed that the following page had been requested a number times.

    Getting the whole picture, WordPress and Feedburner

    Up until this morning this would of resulted in 404 page being displayed. Now it redirects to the correct page.

    I am moving my blog

    image

    For a while now I’ve been wanting to move the blog from http://www.terinea.co.uk/blog (we use to have two blogs, other one was called TerineaTimes) to http://www.terinea.co.uk/blog for a number of reasons. I also wanted to change the permlink setup too. But before you install the plugin, make sure you have a complete copy of your blog in the new location. Once you’re happy, download Redirection plugin, install and watch the video on how to use the plugin.

    Here is what I implemented:-

    I wanted any of my original posts, for example…

    /blogs/terineatectips/2007/10/23/this-is-a-blog-post.php

    to redirect to

    /blog/this-is-a-blog-post.php

    Rather that add 200 redirects, I used the following syntax

    /blog/(.*)/(.*)/(.*)/(.*)/

    to redirect to

    /blog/$4/

    $4 value is in reference to the “(.*)” variable from the original URL address. If I wanted to use the other variables it would look something like this…

    /blog/$1/$2/$3/$4/

    $1 = Year $2 = Month $3 = date $4 = Post name

    I hope that’s clear as mud?

    301 and Duplicated Content

    Any readers on David Airey’s fantastic blog will know, that Google doesn’t like duplicated content. So not only does the Redirection plugin redirect traffic to the new blog posts, but it also tells Google and other Search Engines that the page has permanently moved to a new location, using a 301 code. Hopefully after a while they will re-index these pages.

    301 redirect is the most efficient and Search Engine Friendly method for webpage redirection. It’s not that hard to implement and it should preserve your search engine rankings for that particular page. If you have to change file names or move pages around, it’s the safest option. The code “301″ is interpreted as “moved permanently”.

    http://www.webconfs.com/how-to-redirect-a-webpage.php

    Don’t forget the others

    • You must also remember to update your Feedburner feed and integrate it into your blog template.
    • Re-add your Google Analytics code into your WordPress template
    • Unfortunately one thing you can’t change is the URL of your Technorati account, so hence I’ve had to create a new blog, which is now sat at 3 rather than my pervious 176!
    Author: Support @ 11:33 pm




    Fixing Computers for Beer!

    September 20, 2007

    416610_3644 

    Like most people involved with computer support, my first experience began when fixing PC’s for friends and family. Usually this resulted in payment with free beer, not bad when you where 17! Ten years later I still find myself fixing friends and family computers.

    So here is quick guide to what I would install on a personal PC, maybe one you’ve formatted and re-installed Windows because it was running very slow. I say personal PC because AVG Anti-Virus Free version can’t legally be used in business without paying for the commercial version.

    1. Partition and format the drive into two. One for the Windows System and the other for files and documents. That way you can wipe Windows without losing your files.
    2. Install Windows XP and configure
    3. Install hardware drivers
    4. Install service packs if required (SP2 for full wireless capabilities)
    5. Run Windows updates, twice only
    6. Install Microsoft Office if required, other wise install free Open Office
    7. Run Office updates and enable office and window updates to download together 
    8. Install Firefox, make sure you rename the shortcuts as “Internet” else they will hunt down IE and start using it again.
    9. Thunderbird for Email
    10. Install AVG Anti Virus and AVG Spyware - Free Versions 
    11. Enable Firewall and Windows Updates (Set as download and install at shutdown only)
    12. Install 7zip for zip files and other compressed files, an excellent free alternative to WinRar and WinZip
    13. Install CrossLoop for remote support
    14. Install Foxit, lightweight alternative to bloated Adobe PDF Reader
    15. Install VCL Player, multimedia player for various audio and video formats
    16. Install iTunes if they have a iPod
    17. Install CCleaner and clean up the installation files left from windows updates
    18. Run Defrag
    19. Maybe install some type of free Online Backup Service

    Family PC

    image

    If the computer is for Family use, make sure you read Improving Windows XP for Families  by Robin our Managing Director.

    What software do you install on your friends and family PC’s?

     

    Author: Support @ 11:00 am




    Extending Window Live Writer Features

    September 18, 2007

    windows live writer

    I’m a great fan of Window Live Writer, but sometimes I feel its missing one or two features that could make my day-to-day blogging life easier. Luckily Windows Live Writer features can be extended in a similar way to Firefox .

    Before you install any plugins make sure you have the latest version of Windows Live Writer as many new features have been add since the first release last year.

    1. Acronyms - Although I do my best to avoid jargon sometimes you need to use acronyms for things like HD, CRM , TB etc. Instead of having do the following, TB (TeraByte), you can just hover over the acronyms and tooltip should appear.
    2. blog this
      Blog This for Firefox -  A Firefox add-on that adds a button to the browser, that when pressed pre-populates WLW with the web page content.
    3. file upload with WLW
      Insert File(s) - Allows you to upload files (none images) to your blogging platform, instead of using FTP client.
    4. flickr
      Flickr4Writer - Integrate your Flickr services into your blog posts
    5. image
      del.icio.us bookmark plugin - Integrate your bookmarks from your delicious account.
    6. Website Capture Plugin - Create small screen shot image of a website by providing website address.
    7. AdSense Code Drop In - This plugin allows you to easily insert AdSense code straight into your blog post.
    8. image
      Insert Code for Windows Live Writer - This plugin allows your code (programming code or markup language) to maintain its format as it would appear in a editor.
    9. image
      Insert Symbol Plugin - Make inserting symbols into your blog posts an easier task.
    10. image
      Template Plugin - Start your blog post with a pre-written template.
    11. image
      Text Template - Similar to the Template Plugin that allows snippets of code or regular text to be quickly inserted into your blog post.

    You can also find more plugins for Windows Live Writer at…

    Windows Live Gallery

    and

    Windows Live Writer Plugins

     

    Author: Support @ 8:00 am




    Getting the whole picture, WordPress and Feedburner

    September 17, 2007

     letter box with person taking a picture

    Do you have a feeling you have more subscribers that Feedburner lets on? Maybe you do if you’ve not configured your custom WordPress installation correctly, like me!

    What is Feedburner?

    Okay firstly what is Feedburner? In basic terms its a free service that formats your RSS feed and outputs it into a range of other formats, which makes it easier for readers to subscribe to your blog .

    But also, Feedburner can provide…

    • Count the number of daily readers along with other stats
    • Podcasting tools
    • Insert adverts into your RSS feed?
    • Turn your feed into a newsletter
    • Notify other blogging services of updates
    • Mix in your Flickr, Amazon and Delicious feeds

    Missing out

    On Terinea Weblog I have a big button to the left called “Subscribe” which gives you Terinea’s RSS feed which is formatted from Feedburner. Subscribe that way and Feedburner can produce its metrics, such as number of readers etc.

    subscribe button

    http://feeds.feedburner.com/terinea-tech-tips

    If your using Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox you can also subscribe to Terinea’s feed by clicking the RSS button in the top left next to the web address. Up to last week this gave you my RSS feed produce directly from WordPress. Subscribing this way Feedburner doesn’t get its metrics and you’ve know idea how many readers you have.

    firefox toolbar

    http://www.terinea.co.uk/blog/feed

    The Good

    Still not sure what I mean? Take a look at these two diagrams, first one demonstrates how you should use Feedburner, the Good.

    how feedburner works

    The Bad and The Ugly

    rss feed diagram

    How to insert Feedburner Feed into WordPress

    You have two options here, you can modified your WordPress template by changing the code found in your header file or install an additional plug-in. Oh, and of course make sure you sign up to Feedburner!

    Manual Method

    <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" 
    title="<?php bloginfo('name'); ?> RSS Feed" 
    href="<?php bloginfo('rss2_url'); ?>" />

    To something like this…

    <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" 
    title="Terinea Weblog" 
    href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/terinea-tech-tips" />
    
    

    Feedburner WordPress Pluggin

    Alternatively you can install a plugin called FeedSmith. Although I’ve not tried it, it looks fairly straight forward and it means you can swap WordPress templates without needing to change the code in the header file every time.

     

    Author: Support @ 12:00 am




    Mapping Web 2.0

    September 13, 2007

    web 2.0 companies london underground map tube 

    The new office poster finally arrived from Information Architects in Japan. You can see the poster in more detail and also purchase one here.

    What do you think, too geeky or cool?

    Also check out sillytube, world web map and motorwaymap for more silly tube maps.

     

    Author: Support @ 8:00 am
    Category: Geeky Stuff




    Printers of the future

    September 12, 2007

    image

    Some 25 years ago the first commercial laser printer cost $17,000. Today you can pick up a laser printer for as little as $200. So what would the same money today buy you?

    Do you you remember the first computer printer you used? More than likely it was black and white dot matrix printer that deafened you as it printed. Then colour dot matrix printers appeared on the scene, followed shortly by inkjet printers, and If your business could afford one you had a laser printer.

    image

    Today we expect our printers to produce our documents in seconds and our photos to be of the highest quality. We’ve come along way from the days of slow, large and noisy monochrome printers of the 1980 and early 1990s. So what type of printer should we expect to be sitting in your office, school or at home in 5 to 10 years time? Here are a number of interesting technologies that show promise.

    Inkless Printers and Reusable Paper

    image

    Back in the 1980’s the introduction of computers into mainstream business was herald the start of the paperless office. Today we couldn’t be further away from that concept, with businesses using more paper than ever. Companies such as Xerox have realised we are very unlikely to change our obsession for printing everything out and are investigating in more environmental and cheaper ways for use to print out information that is often binned at the end of the day.

    Xerox is developing a new printing technology which does not require ink of any kind. The new technology includes reusable paper which can be printed and erased dozens of times and has the potential to revolutionize printing. Although the technology is still in the early stages of development, it has the potential to cut printing costs and reduce office paper usage dramatically.

    http://www.tfot.info/articles.php?itemId=50/58/

    image

    Other companies such as Zink are looking at ways of integrating inkless printers into digital camera’s and mobile devices.

    The company, a spin-off of Polaroid, says it will use the technology to make hand-held printers that can be integrated into mobile phones and digital cameras, with the first products available at the end of 2007. The key to creating the devices is doing away with ink, using a new type of digital printing that changes colour of paper when heat is applied.

    http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn11196?DCMP=Matt_Sparkes&nsref=inkless-printer

    3D Printers (rapid prototyping)

    image

    In the early 1980’s £20,000 would buy you a laser printer. Today you could buy a 3D colour printer that can print out physical objects. Yes physical objects! See Z Corp 3D colour printer in action in this short 3 minute video or clip from the popular CSI: New York using 3D printer to investigate a crime.

    It is unlikely your business will purchase a professional 3D printer anytime soon. Although Fab at home is hoping to kick start a revolution in 3D printing at home by producing cheap self assembled printers for as little as a £1000. For more information check out video at YouTube.

    Unlike commercial equipment, the Fab@Home machine is also designed to be used with more than one material. So far it has been tested with silicone, plaster, play-doh and even chocolate and icing. Different materials can also be used to make a single object – the control software prompts the user when to load new material into the machine.

    http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn10922-desktop-fabricator-may-kickstart-home-revolution.html

     RepRap 3D Printer

    Another company, RepRap wants to produce a 3D printer that replicate itself.  The idea being you can purchase the printer and then produce copies which you can sell on to drive down development and production costs.

    Fad or the Future

    So do you think these printers are just a fad, or will these printers become common place in businesses and homes within the next five years?

    I’ll leave you with a quote in lasts month PC Plus magazine regarding 3D printers.

    “If the Music industry think they had a problem with illegal downloads, wait until people start copying cars”

    Author: Support @ 8:00 am
    Category: Geeky Stuff, Hardware




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