IDrive: One-stop Backup for All of Your Devices and Computers

IDrive: One Stop Backup for All of Your Devices and ComputersA few weeks ago I took inventory of all the toys I have in my house and was surprised at just how much stuff I own. My list of computers and devices consists of the following:

  • 2 laptop computers running Windows 7
  • 1 laptop running Windows XP
  • 1 desktop running Windows 7
  • 1 Google Chromebook Cr-48
  • 1 Apple iPad
  • 1 Apple iPod
  • 1 Amazon Kindle Fire
  • 1 Android-powered smart phone

When you have this many toys, you need a reliable backup service that supports all of your devices and computers.

To address this need, I was recently introduced, through our Gnomies Facebook group, to Stephen Gold, the Business Development Manager for IDrive. Let me be clear, however, that this was my first exposure to IDrive’s backup service and that I have no personal relationship with the company nor do I know Stephen personally. The opinions I will express in this article are mine and mine alone.

IDrive: One Stop Backup for All of Your Devices and ComputersMy first experience was to install IDrive on my personal laptop computer system running Windows 7. I found IDrive very simple to install and even easier to use.

From this screen shot, you will notice that the left side of the screen displays the files and drives that you can back up, while the right side of screen announces when your backup is completed.

The simplicity of the software begins when you click on the Backup Now button. This will take you on your course down the yellow brick road. At one juncture in the road, you can even schedule a future backup or, at another, opt to do a complete system restore.

Admittedly, this trial had been on a computer, so I knew I had to extend my trial; I also tried using IDrive Lite on my Android smartphone and am pleased to note that both the Windows version and the Android version performed perfectly.

But like many of you, I thought to myself, was IDrive just another pretty face in the crowded iCloud backup field, or was it really different? I decided to put Stephen Gold under the microscope and ask him some pretty hard questions. Here is the interview:

What are the main benefits that you believe IDrive has over your competition?

Some services limit the number of devices a person can connect to their account. IDrive allows for an unlimited number of devices (computers and mobile [devices]) and file access is universal between OS X, Windows, and Linux data.

“You need a third-party app to do this in Dropbox, and Carbonite for some reason “strongly recommends” a non-private key –we call this a ‘Default’ key– our philosophy is the opposite, we encourage people to use the private key, although we can’t reset it if its forgotten or lost, its ultimately a more secure way to store data in the cloud.”

Any time a person chooses to go with an “unlimited” storage backup plan, they’re always accepting limitations in other areas. Most commonly this is with file retention. Mozy and Carbonite delete files from their servers 30 days after a customer has deleted them from their computer, so the customer doesn’t really ever get unlimited storage, only how much they’re storing locally. The customer pays $50 per year to back up 10 GB or 100 GB, but that’s only a good deal for the guy who backs up 100 GB. We offer tiered plans with unlimited file retention — that’s what online storage should be. The customer can choose how much space they want to purchase on our servers, fill it up, and let it stay there for as long as they’d like.

IDrive has no file type or size limitations, and no bandwidth throttling — for every account. Box.net limits [its] free users to 25 MB files and [its] paid users to 2 GB files, [which is] not very useful for video editors or my office iPhoto library (3.46 GBs and counting).

Every customer can back up their first 5 GB free and refer friends to get more. Gnomies, of course, have a special 25 GB free promo available!

How safe is cloud computing?

“Safety” is, unfortunately, a bit subjective. Some people feel it’s safe to purchase items online with a credit card, and some don’t. [Here are] five questions to ask your cloud backup provider; answer them and you’ll get a good picture of how “safe” you and your data will be:

  • Where is my data being stored? It’s important to know if the facilities holding your [data] meet international standards and are secured both physically and electronically. Our data-center facilities are physically guarded 24-hours a day, our network is monitored by our team 24-hours a day, and we’re SAS 7 compliant.
  • How is my data being stored? Is your data being encrypted properly before being copied? Who has access to the encryption key? Do you have the option to set your own key? All data is encrypted before it leaves a customer’s computer and is transferred over an SSL connection.
  • Who do I contact if I need help? Make sure your cloud backup provider has a support team you can rely on in case you need help. Does it have a call center? 24-hour live chat for emergencies? Check and check!
  • What am I paying for? Even though cloud-based backup services tend to be significantly more affordable than traditional solutions, especially tape, be sure to watch for per-client license fees and contracts! IDrive offers easy paid plans starting at $4.95 per month for 150 GB and it supports as many devices as a customer would like to connect. Dropbox, for instance, is $19.99 per month for 100 GB (since [it has] to pay Amazon for the storage) and Mozy is $5.99 for 50 GB and the customer can only connect three computers — anything additional is $2 per computer per month.
  • What if the worst happens? It’s hoped that you’ll never have to recover from a disaster, but if you do, is your backup provider there for you to help you get up and running quickly? Some providers offer physically shipped restores in cases involving large amounts of data; would you need this kind of service? The old adage goes, “A backup is only as good as its restore.” Our 24-hour support team is available in case someone encounters trouble restoring their data and we have a Rapid Serve hard drive program for quick disaster recovery.

What future plans does your company have to stay at the forefront of cloud storage?

APIs and third-party development; over the last two years we re-created our storage platform (we call it EVS) and for the first time have recently made available public APIs to access to IDrive. Other developers (such as Primadesk) can integrate IDrive into their own applications. We’ll be launching an app studio to highlight the new apps as they’re released.

And we’re staying a little quiet about it, but we’re cooking up a re-launch of our sync product, IDriveSync. It’s going to be killer.

Thanks, Ron. Let me know if you need anything further!

Stephen

What Stephen says about your backup being only as good as your restore is, unfortunately, very true. I have personally experienced a failed restore from one cloud-based company, but after using the software, I believe that IDrive has the integrity and purpose to provide a reliable backup and restore of your data. In another words, I personally believe that IDrive is a company that can be trusted.

Comments welcome.

I received this from the iDrive team with a correction:

‘There is a factual error in the posting. The IDrive technology does not use SSL for encryption when data is backed up from Windows and Mac desktop apps. It uses AES encryption. There are two options provided with AES, one with default encryption where the system chooses the encryption key, and the other where the user chooses the key.

IDrive Team. ‘

Backup And Restore In Windows 7 Part I

Since data can be lost or corrupt by various means — viruses, power failures, inexperienced users, etc. — it is very important, for even home users, to back up their files. By performing a simple backup, a home user can easily restore their files should they become corrupt or mysteriously disappear.

Windows 7 makes it easy for you to create a backup of your files through the Windows Backup program that lets you make copies of your files or create a system image. Although it is not an elaborate program, it has all the necessary features for home users to back up their important files.

To create a backup in Windows 7:

  1. Click Start and click Control Panel.
  2. Click System and Security.
  3. Click Backup and Restore Center.
  4. Click the Set up backup button.
  5. Select where you want to save your backup and click Next.
  6. Windows prompts you to select what you want to back up. You can let Windows choose or you select the files to include in the backup. Most people likely want to choose their own files so click the Let me choose option. Click Next.
  7. Select the drives and folders you want to backup. Click Next.
  8. Click the Save settings and run backup button.

Given that home users often overlook their backup plan, you should schedule Windows Backup to run automatically, say on a weekly or monthly basis depending on how critical your files are. You can change the default backup schedule by selecting the Change Schedule option in step 7.

Be sure to read part 2 of this article series, where we show you how to verify your backup configuration is working properly.

Backup Bundled With New PCs

Why is it we can buy a PC, yet while we are being pitched with printers and scanners, we are NEVER pitched with the wild idea of a smart backup scheme? Seriously, is it too much to ask for HP, Dell and others selling to Joe and Jill Consumer to provide a simple to use backup setup? Am I asking too much here? If these companies really want to bomb people with add-ons, this is one area that is sorely being missed.

Now granted, Windows has plenty of backup software options – but the PCs these options can easily being installed with are not coming with external drives unfortunately. Bear in mind that I am not talking about some RAID array or advanced network storage of any kind. No, all I want to see is PCs coming in bundles with a simple USB/FireWire external hard drive with software that is ready to go out of the box, as the PC is being “unboxed.”

I say this as I was looped into recently helping a friend of my wife’s family with a PC issue gone wrong. The dell stopped working, looks like possible drive failure coupled with plenty of  malware (let’s hear it for running as an admin!) and you guessed it, no backup of important data in sight.

Clearly this is not all that revolutionary as 99% of the casual users fully understand the importance of backing up. They may hear the term tossed around or even see the drives sold at their local big box stores. Yet leave it to the folks at these same stores to not put together the obvious and provide simple, ready to go bundles that allow their customers still new to computing to safely and easily backup their computers with what they need. Perhaps I am asking too much here, but I just do not think so.

net-runna ReStor v3.1.0.178

ReStor provides fast, flexible automated data backup and recovery with advanced data storage. ReStor has several unique features that set it apart from other backup solutions.

ReStor backs up just about any kind of data including your PST file (email), Windows system files, and the Registry. ReStor has a small memory footprint and operates in the system idle time to minimize the impact on your CPU.

[25.16M] [Win2k/XP/Vista] [FREE]

Windows Vista Backup & Restore – Does It Work?

Yesterday I received a comment from a reader named Luis in which he described a problem he was having using the built in Backup and Restore feature of Windows Vista. He described his problem as:

Hi, I have a huge problem and cannot find
anything related to it on the internet. I’m running Vista Ultimate on
an HP Media Center Pavillion. Because of a number of bugs in the Vista
system I decided to restore a “Complete Windows Restore” from a backup
I made when everything worked fine. I am able to restore ok .. but when
I boot up into windows many system programs and resources say something
like: “so and so program has stopped working .. Windows will notify you
when a solution comes available .. close”. I’ve tried everything
including reformatting the drive and doing a clean install of Vista
Ultimate .. but whenever I do the restore I get the same thing. I have
stripped the computer to bare essentials and still have the same
problem. I can’t even do the windows system check because the same
popup comes up with the same type of message.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I’ve been at this for
almost a week and I’m this close to pulling Vista out and installing XP.

Thanks,
Luis

After some back and forth questioning I learned that this was happening every time he tried to do a Restore from a Backup he had made. Since I do not use this built in feature, I had no personal knowledge on why this was happening. So I did a Google and found a page from a Microsoft employee who had a site and links to some possible solutions to the problem.

Over the years I have tried many a software which claimed to Backup up Windows and do a complete Restore in case disaster struck. For the most part I have been disappointed with the results. The proof in the pudding is not the fact that the software will make a Backup, most softwares do that just fine. But it is the Restore process that fails. What good is a Backup if you can’t restore your system?

I personally use Acronis True Image and find that it flat out just works.

But what has your experience been using the built in Vista Backup and Restore? Share your thoughts with us. Also if you have a favorite Backup program let us know what you use.

Comments welcome.

Microsoft web site is located here.

[tags]windows, vsiat, backup, restore, failure, link, problems, microsoft, employee, assistance, software, [/tags]

DriverMax – Save Your Hardware Driver Information

It has happen to all of us. Windows has become corrupted after a virus attack or just because it wants to be a pain in the rump. Now you are faced with a clean install to fix the problem. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of your updated hardware drivers ready to be reinstalled? This is where DriverMax softwre comes in handy. This free software will backup than reinstall your drivers at a later date.

On the DriverMax site they describe their software as:

Note: DriverMax only works on Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows 2003 (all service packs).

DriverMax is a new program which allows you to easily reinstall all your Windows drivers. No more searching for rare drivers on discs or on the web or inserting one installation CD after the other. Simply export all your current drivers (or just the ones that work ok) to a folder or a compressed file. After reinstalling Windows you will have everything in one place!

Most of the situations when Windows is running slower are caused by faulty driver installations. Windows stores all versions of older drivers just in case you want to go back; sometimes it messes up older versions with more recent ones. The Export Wizard will only export the drivers you select by copying the needed files to a folder or a compressed ZIP file.

After reinstalling Windows all drivers will be back in place in less than 5 minutes – sparing you of searching, inserting disc after disk and losing precious time. The Import Drivers wizard allows you to install all the drivers that you exported earlier. The entire operation might take up to 5-10 minutes.

Just one single computer restart will be required after all drivers are reinstalled!

DriverMax is able to display a complete report of all drivers (versions, release dates) installed on your system. This feature can also be very useful when you want to analyze the differences between the drivers installed on different machines.

So be safe and backup up your stuff.

DriverMax download is here.

Comments welcome.

[tags]drivermax, hardware, drivers, backup, restore, reinstall, windows, [/tags]



Update on Windows Vista SP1 Prerequisite KB937287 Loopback Problem

Microsoft has yanked the prerequisite update for Windows Vista KB937287. On its blog site Microsoft has also provided the following information to assist those who are experiencing the loopback problem:

We’ve heard a few reports about problems customers may be experiencing as a result of KB937287, the servicing stack update I blogged about last week, and I wanted to provide a quick update for you. Immediately after receiving reports of this error, we made the decision to temporarily suspend automatic distribution of the update to avoid further customer impact while we investigate possible causes.

So far, we’ve been able to determine that this problem only affects a small number of customers in unique circumstances. We are working to identify possible solutions and will make the update available again shortly after we address the issue.

Customers who may be experiencing this issue can use system restore to correct it or contact 1-866-PC-Safety for help troubleshooting. Additional guidance will be available via Microsoft’s free Update Support Center soon.

So there you have it. There is a problem with this specific update, but outside of a restore, no other fix is available. For those having the problem, I would recommend trying to call for support and see what happens.

Comments welcome.

Blog posting is here.

Dual Boot XP and Vista – Fix System Restore To Keep Restore Points In Vista

UNFORTUNATELY THE TWEAK UI FIX DOES NOT WORK – PLEASE READ IN THE COMMENTS SECTION ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS AND LINKS TO USE.
One of the problems in dual booting Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows XP is, that once you boot into XP, all of your restore points are deleted in Vista. I also read with interest a article several weeks ago in which it was stated that Microsoft has no intention of fixing this problem, since it would require that code be re-written and they did not feel it was of major importance for most users. Gee Microsoft, I’m most users and I feel it was important to me! :-)

So this morning I was net surfing actually looking for postings concerning problems with Vista restore when I stumbled on a article concerning the dual boot restore issue. Written by fellow MVP John Barnett,he described a simple fix to the problem.

“Another option, which is simpler if you don’t want to go down the Bitlocker Encryption route is to boot into Windows XP and, using a freeware utility called TweakUi hide the Windows Vista partition from Windows XP. Because XP cannot see the Windows Vista partition it cannot remove the system restore points.

The end result of both these workarounds is that you can move from Windows Vista to Windows XP and back again without losing the precious System restore points.”

Wow, thanks John. That is simple and effective. XP can’t mess with what it can’t see. :-)

I hope this helps someone who is also having this annoying problem.

Comments welcome.

Complete article located here.

[tags]microsoft, windows, vista, xp, restore, problem, fix, [/tags]

Try Windows Live OneCare today for FREE !

I’ve been bets testing Live OneCare for the past several months and it works very well. This is what Microsoft has to say about their product.

“Help get confidence and peace of mind. Windows Live OneCare is always on, working quietly in the background on your computer, helping protect your PC from viruses, spyware, hackers, and other unwanted intruders. It also goes beyond security, regularly backing up all your important files and automatically cleaning up and tuning up your PC to help keep it running at top speed.

Your OneCare service* comes with:

Antivirus

  • Removes viruses, worms, and Trojan horses
  • Scans and cleans attachments, downloads, and other files
  • Updates automatically to counteract new threats

Antispyware

  • Uses Windows® Defender to helps protect your PC against pop-ups, slow performance, and security breaches

Two-Way Firewall

  • Helps protect your PC from hackers when you send or receive data over the Internet
  • Updates continuously to block harmful applications

Performance Tune-ups

  • Automatically defragments your hard disk, cleans and compresses temporary files, and installs operating-system updates from Microsoft

Backup and Restore

  • Helps protect your files by regularly backing them up to a CD, DVD, or external hard drive”

Get your free copy from here.


[tags]windows, free, Live OneCare, anti-virus, anti-spyware, defragment, backup, restore, recipes, helpful hints, cookie,[/tags]

Symantec Debuts Norton 360 Beta

Both Symantec, makers of the popular Norton products, and McAfee will be offering a suite of products for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Vista. Symantec is offering their beta [test] version as a free download. If you are interested in giving this new software product a try, a download link is provided. As with any beta software,  it should not be used on your primary system, and should be only used on a test computer.
“The service provides anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, anti-fraud features, automated backup and restore, and computer tune-up tools, and is designed to run more or less unattended when the PC is idle.

Symantec on Wednesday released the first public beta of Norton 360, a subscription security service that will compete with Microsoft’s OneCare when it goes final sometime in the next four months.”

The new consumer security software provides anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, anti-fraud features, automated backup and restore, and computer tune-up tools. It’s designed to run more or less unattended, conducts chores such as anti-virus scans and backups when the PC is idle, and was built to consume fewer computer resources than traditional security suites. The backup feature will include 2 Gbytes of online storage space; the beta, however, provides only 250 Mbytes, and that only to the first 25,000 testers.

Since Symantec first broached its new approach to consumer computer security in February, Norton 360 — originally code named “Genesis” — has been pitched as a response to Microsoft Windows Live OneCare, an all-in-one security package priced at $49.95 annually for three PCs. Since then, other vendors, including McAfee, have released all-in-one suites sold via annual subscription. ”
Norton 360 can be downloaded from the Symantec Web site. Click Here.

[tags]Symantec, Norton, anti-virus, anti-spyware, virus, backup, restore, anti-fraud, 360, protection, automatic, powerful [/tags]

How to change the Volume Licensing product key – Windows XP

From Micosoft:

Important This article contains information about how to modify the registry. Make sure to back up the registry before you modify it. Make sure that you know how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up, restore, and modify the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

256986 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/256986/) Description of the Microsoft Windows registry

Warning The steps in the article are effective only on Volume License media. If you try these steps on OEM media or on retail media, you will not change the product key.

INTRODUCTION

loadTOCNode(1, ‘summary’); If you use a “leaked” product key (a product key that is known to be available to the general public) for the deployment of Microsoft Windows XP across multiple computers (a Volume Licensing installation), you may not be able to install Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later versions of Windows XP or automatically obtain updates from the Windows Update Web site. For example, you may experience the symptoms that are described in the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article when you install Windows XP SP1 or a later version of Windows XP:

326904 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/326904/) You receive a “The product key used to install Windows is invalid” error message

This article describes how to change the Windows XP product key after a Volume Licensing installation. You can use the Windows Activation Wizard graphical user interface (GUI) or a Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) script. The Activation Wizard method is easier, but if you must change the product key for multiple computers, the script method is better.

Note Microsoft recommends that you run System Restore to create a new restore point before you follow these steps. For information about how to create a restore point by using System Restore, see the “To Create a Restore Point” help topic in Help and Support.

1.Click Start, and then click Run.
2.In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
3.In the left pane, locate and then click the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version\WPAEvents

4.In the right pane, right-click OOBETimer, and then click Modify.
5.Change at least one digit of this value to deactivate Windows.
6.Click Start, and then click Run.
7.In the Open box, type the following command, and then click OK.

%systemroot%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe /a

8.Click Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows, and then click Next.
9.Click Change Product key.
10.Type the new product key in the New key boxes, and then click Update.If you are returned to the previous window, click Remind me later, and then restart the computer.
11.Repeat steps 6 and 7 to verify that Windows is activated. You receive the following message:

Windows is already activated. Click OK to exit.

12.Click OK.
13.Install Windows XP SP1 or a later version of Windows XP.If you cannot restart Windows after you install Windows XP SP1 or a later version of Windows XP, press F8 when you restart the computer, select Last Known Good Configuration, and then repeat this procedure.

For additional information Click Here.

[tags]Windows XP, product key, change, registry, backup, restore, [/tags]

Should You Perform A Clean Install Of XP?

One type of installation that you can perform is referred to as a clean install. When you perform a clean install you are basically starting over right from scratch. All data and programs are erased and your hard disk is formatted.

The advantages to performing a clean install are that it cleans up your computer by getting rid of all the old files and programs that you no longer use and gets rid of problems you may have been experiencing under the old setup. In other words, your computer is returned to pristine condition as if it had never run an OS before. Generally, performing a clean install results in a more reliable computer.
Continue reading “Should You Perform A Clean Install Of XP?”

Repairing Windows XP

The advantage to performing a repair, instead of reinstalling, is that you do not need to re-install any applications, restore any data, or reconfigure any of your settings. The downside of this type of installation is that it does not clean up your system at all. In other words, it does not remove any clutter that has accumulated on your computer.

The basic steps for performing a repair are as follows:
Continue reading “Repairing Windows XP”

Reinstalling Windows XP

If your system is currently running Windows, you can perform a re-install of the OS. In other words, you can install Windows over itself. This is often referred to as an in-place upgrade.
When you perform this type of installation, Windows XP is reinstalled to the same folder. Typically you would perform this type of installation if you were unable to boot into Safe Mode or if you were unable to repair an existing Windows installation.
To reinstall Windows XP by using Windows XP, follow these steps:

  1. Start your computer and log on.
  2. Insert the Windows XP CD into your CD-ROM drive.
  3. On the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP page, click Install Windows XP.
  4. On the Welcome to Windows Setup page, click Upgrade (Recommended) in the Installation Type box (if it is not already selected), and then click Next.
  5. On the License Agreement page, click I accept this agreement, and then click Next.
  6. On the Your Product Key page, type the 25-character product key in the Product key boxes, and then click Next.
  7. On the Get Updated Setup Files page, select the option that you want, and then click Next.
  8. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen to reinstall Windows XP.

Once the re-install is complete you will once again have to install the latest service pack and any other updates that your system requires.

[tags]windows,xp,os,diana huggins,restore,reinstall,in-place upgrade[/tags]