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Do you have a backup plan if your PC goes tits up


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I learned today that it is not enough to have your data backed up, you really need to have an entire 2nd system ready to go.

This morning I found my hard drive on my PC was on its last leg. I do a pretty god job keeping my files backed up. But when I went to set up my laptop to work on, it took me all damn afternoon to install the report writing software, my template with all its changes, all my other files I use in writing a report: camera software, picture resizer, PDF convertor, e-mail, PST files, printer & driver, etc… What a nightmare.

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I use Word. All of the other utilities I use are free add ons, shareware and the like. I have files stored on multiple drives both external and internal.

I do my main work on my laptop. Nobody else uses this laptop so there is never a reason to wonder if someone else messed things up. The wife has her own laptop. There is a desktop that everybody uses. That one has all my utilities installed and it's ready to go if I need it.

I keep all of my computers maintained regularly. I pay for McAfee but I also use various free shareware utilities to keep things clean and tuned up.

Some of the good free programs I use are,

WinPatrol

CCleaner

AML registery cleaner

Spybot Search & Destroy

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

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BTW, if your camera uses SD card you dont really need to use the software. Just put the card in the SD slot on the computer then go to My Computer and copy/past the folder over to the hard drive. Microsoft has a free picture resizer as one of its Power Toys. You can load that feature on any computer for free.

Isn't it interesting how a good reliable independent HI also needs to be savvy on computer systems and the like?

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Whenever I buy a new laptop, I buy a spare hard drive. I get it set up the way I want it then I clone the drive. If the drive goes, just pop in the new one. If the whole computer goes, buy the same model and put in the cloned drive. Both have happened. Anything that changes gets saved in 'my documents'. I back up 'my documents' regularly.

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I had the power supply on my main computer go out two weeks ago. It happened while I was out doing inspections. When I got home I had my surprise!

Yes, I backup everything. I use Carbonite and I'm very happy with it. They only thing you have to remember about when you backup your files is that you are only backing up the data and not the program. So to recover your data you have to have those same programs on the new or target computer. It also can take hours to retrieve the data depending on how large the files are. I was able to place the files I needed on one of my other computers until I could get the power supply replaced. So it all worked out, it just took a little longer.

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If my computer dies during an inspection, I have a paper backup to give the client at inspection so they have something. I have a backup laptop at home with reporting software loaded already. I also back everthing up on an external hard drive so I can reload as needed.

I agree, if it took you an afternoon to get up and running again that is pretty good. I frequently have "speed bumps" with my Vista operating system that can make life interesting. Windows 7 is coming out shortly and you could probably buy a new laptop with that system loaded already. Windows 7, so far, is getting fairly good reviews.

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We use removable 90 gig hard drives (Iomega REV) that automatically back-up files that were changed during the day. The files automatically backup everyday at 4:30 PM. My business partner and I take turns swapping out the back-ups and bringing them home when the office closes at 5 PM. We have the files in three places and will never lose more than a day of work. People often forget that keeping backup files in the same place as the main files does not protect you from a fire, flood or theft. Off-site backup is important.

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I have Homeguage loaded on a laptop, a PC at home and a PC at my home office (which is in a different building), have Homeguage set to backup work in progress every five minutes, and use Syncplicity to keep everything synced up and also to keep automatic backups of the last four versions of every file in my critical data directory mirrored out to the Syncplicity site.

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1) With Syncplicity, the selected directories (folders) on any computer which is connected to the Internet and set up with Syncplicity are synced up in something close to in real time, otherwise when I boot up synchronization takes a minute or two.

For example I can start work on a report at a restaurant or coffee house on the laptop, and if there's WiFi available and my other PCs are connected to the Internet, the report information is being updated on all connected PCs at the office every time Homeguage saves a backup or when I close the report from within Homeguage, and I can come home and finish the work on my primary desktop PC.

Or, I can start work on a desktop PC and finish up on the laptop.

2) If no other PC or laptop is on-line, as long as I have a internet connection, files on the PC on which I'm working are being uploaded to the Syncplicity server (which serves as backup), and as soon as the other PC/laptop(s) have a connection to the net, they will be synced as well.

3) If there is no WiFi at the coffeehouse I just plug the laptop on my home network, and in a minuet or two everything is synced / backed up and I'm up and running in Homeguage.

Best, this is all completely automatic, once it's set up (easy to do) it reliably happens without me having to remember to make it happen.

4) I also have an arrangement with another small business owner in a suburb about 15 miles away, we synchronize the critical data on our office computers, and if one of us goes down, we can continue working on the others computer.

5) The final layer is the backup on the Syncplicity server: absolute worst case I could drive to Best Buy, pick up a PC or laptop, connect to the Internet, and while Syncplicity was restoring this year's reports in the background I could download and install Homeguage, open a report in progress as soon as it synced, and pick up within five minutes of where I left off. (I use a different backup package to image my entire hard disk about once a week, so that I could restore my entire primary PC including all applications and settings, if I experience a disk crash).

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I've used Syncplicity for about a year and though I haven't had yet to recover from serious data loss I know the product works because I constantly use its ability to sync multiple computers and occasionally to pull down a previous version of a file (THAT'S saved my bacon a few times).

It works flawlessly, and the price is incredibly reasonable: $99 a year to sync/back up 100GB of data - I have the last five years of reports, all my (encrypted) accounting data, my huge library of reference material and archived photographs, and a whole load of other stuff up there and mirrored out to all three computers.

About the only downside is that files may not be backed up / synced if they are currently open, so you want to set your reporting software, word processor, spreadsheet or whatever to auto-backup every few minutes, this backup file is what is synced, then your final version will be synced when you close file from within the application.

For years I screwed around with various other kinds of backup products and stratagems - including a quite expensive RAID NAS - and nothing has ever come close in terms of functionality and ease of use - this product is the cat's meow.

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I tried Syncplicity for one month (I think at your recommendation?).

The two fatal flaws fro me were:

1) A backup for my files in their current size took 1.5 days.

2) I'm not able to network my laptops and desktop here at the house. Sharing folders on the home newtwork causes an un-ending loop that Syncplicity rejected.

Other than that, I liked Syncplicity. Have you had to deal with these issues I just mentioned?

Edit: Michael, perhaps I could call you to discuss how Syncplicity could work for me. I really need to do something!

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I tried Syncplicity for one month (I think at your recommendation?).

The two fatal flaws fro me were:

1) A backup for my files in their current size took 1.5 days.

2) I'm not able to network my laptops and desktop here at the house. Sharing folders on the home newtwork causes an un-ending loop that Syncplicity rejected.

Other than that, I liked Syncplicity. Have you had to deal with these issues I just mentioned?

Edit: Michael, perhaps I could call you to discuss how Syncplicity could work for me. I really need to do something!

The length of time for backing up when you start the service is normal with all of the Internet based backup providers. Once the initial backup is done everything is done behind the scene. I use Carbonite and the original backup I started on a Friday night and it was done by mid afternoon on Sunday. Now I don't even notice when it is backing up the files that are changed.

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I tried Syncplicity for one month (I think at your recommendation?).

The two fatal flaws fro me were:

1) A backup for my files in their current size took 1.5 days.

2) I'm not able to network my laptops and desktop here at the house. Sharing folders on the home newtwork causes an un-ending loop that Syncplicity rejected.

Other than that, I liked Syncplicity. Have you had to deal with these issues I just mentioned?

Edit: Michael, perhaps I could call you to discuss how Syncplicity could work for me. I really need to do something!

The length of time for backing up when you start the service is normal with all of the Internet based backup providers. Once the initial backup is done everything is done behind the scene. I use Carbonite and the original backup I started on a Friday night and it was done by mid afternoon on Sunday. Now I don't even notice when it is backing up the files that are changed.

1) I'm syncing on a 1000 Mb net at home and a 10/30Mb cable modem to net, it takes half a day for an initial sync to a new PC, but then it's essentially transparent.

2) I suspect that your "endless loop" might have something to do with your directory set-up on various PCs, I have all my critical data in separate c:\criticaldata directory structure identical on ALL PCs and laptops, and I've never had a problem.

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