Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Use Windows Backup Tool

Wizard Automatically Copies Your Daily Changes

You’ve all heard it; you can’t say you haven’t been told, can you? You want to back up your data. A back up copy of your music, pictures, records, and correspondence [your memories] can be a lifesaver (well…maybe not a life-saver, but how about a tears and sorrow-saver?).

In my previous article on defragmentation, I showed you how to use Windows’ built-in Task Scheduler to solve the problem of file fragmentation using a ”set it and forget it” method. Today I’m going to show you how to use basically the same tool to create a backup of your system, for use as a means of recovering from a “really bad” glitch.

Tip of the day: If you follow the steps I outline next, you will set up an initial system backup, and then, and this is the best part, Windows will each night make a backup of any changes and additions you’ve made during the day– automatically.

[note: One thing you should know before we begin is, it is pretty important that you store this back up copy some place other than your Windows drive (usually, your “c: drive”). This can be on another “partition” on your hard drive (not so good), or on a seperate hard drive — such as a “storage drive” attached to your machine with a USB cable, or a network drive (best). For this example, we will use an USB-attached drive identified by Windows as “e: drive”.

If you do not have another partition or attached storage available, you can use the first steps of this article to create a system backup, and then use a utility like WinZip or WinRAR to make CD (or, better, DVD)-sized subdivisions which you can burn to disc(s), after that, make a routine of monthly (or more often) backups of your My Documents folder to disk as well.]

Step#1: open the Windows Backup utility by clicking Start >Programs >Accessories >System tools >Backup. A window will open welcoming you to the Backup Wizard.
* Click “Next” and it asks if you want to make a backup (default) or restore from a back; we’re making a backup so click next.
* Now we’re asked what we want to back up, and here you want the bottom option, “Let me choose what to back up”. Click “Next” again.
* On the next screen, expand the My Computer on the left-hand panel, as shown below.
backup1.jpg

Look to the left-pane again and you will see that I have placed a check in the box next to Local Disk (C:) [my hard drive] and System State. That causes all the other checks to appear. That’s what we want, so now you do it — click on the plus sign next to My Computer, and then click inside the Local Disk and the System State boxes. Now click next.

* Now we’re asked which location you want to store the backup copy at. Click on the browse button and navigate to the (hypothetical) (E:) drive (your actual location will vary). The default file name is acceptable, so hit next.
* Follow the Wizard all the way through the next few “next” buttons until you get to Finish, and you’re done with Step 1.

You now have a copy of your whole computer that you can use to restore it to this moment in time, should disaster strike…or should you buy a larger hard drive as a replacement, load the new drive with your settings and data.
[note: It is a very good idea to also burn this to disc(s). Use a zip program, in conjuction with your burning software, to get the Backup.bkp onto your CD’s or DVD’s]

Step #2: Here’s where we use launch the Backup Wizard again and this time use the Advanced Mode to schedule an automatic daily “incremental” back up. An incremental backup will look at your files and folders and make a copy only of the new, or modified files you added since the last incremental backup. In this way, you’ll always have a complete copy of your present set up ready to come to your rescue should you ever need it.

To begin, once again open Windows Backup, Start >Programs >Accessories >System Tools >Backup, and this time click on the blue link that says “Advanced Mode” when the Welcome window appears.
* Then click Next, and then click on the top button of the new Backup Wizard Advanced Mode page, the one that says “Backup Wizard (Advanced)”. Then click Next.
* Now choose the middle radio button, on the What to back up page, that says, “back up selected files, drives, or network data” and click Next.
Here again you want to expand My Computer and check Local Disk and System State. Click Next, and again navigate to (hypothetical) drive “e:” and click next again.

Now you’re on the “Completing” page but do not click “Finished” just yet; instead click on the Advanced button. Now you’ll see the Type of backup (By default it will say “Normal”) page — use the drop-down arrow to set it to “Incremental” and hit next. Put a check in the checkbox marked “Verify data after back up” and hit Next. Leave the radio button on “Append this data to existing backups” and hit Next.

Now we set the schedule. Select the radio button labeled “Later” and the schedule windows will activate. Give the “job” a title, like ‘daily’, and click the Set a schedule button.

backup2.jpg

Set it to Daily, and set a time that won’t interfere with your using the computer…say during your lunch hour. Click on the OK button and a “run as” window will open. Make sure the user name is an account that runs as an Administrator, and give this job a password (and ‘confirm’). Hit next. Verify, and hit Finish.

Done!

I realize that this may seem like a daunting number of complicated steps, but really all you’re doing is following a wizard. Once you’ve done this process though, you can rest in the comfort of knowing that there is an up-to-date copy of all your important files and folders available to you in case of digital dire straights. If you’ve ever had to wipe a hard drive and reinstall Windows, you’d know just how valuable a backup like this can be!

Today’s free link: I have located a Startup Manager that passes muster, which I added as an update to my “answers” article, and will repeat here in case you missed it. Ashampoo StartUp Tuner 2

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 28, 2008 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, how to, PC, storage, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How To Limit Your Roommate’s Bandwidth

And Keep More For Yourself.

Tip of the day: If you are in a house with multiple computers, and you want to restrict “the amount of Internet” those other machines use, you can use settings (aka “options”) in your router and give yourself #1 priority.

Today’s topic comes QoS from a question from a (younger) fella who lives with roommates, and they all “share” his connection.

Which is fine with him except for when their online activity slows down his surfing or online gaming.
So he wanted to know how to make sure he got “first dibs”. (Though I confess, he called it “more bandwidth”.)

You can think of today’s tip as a “tweak for better Internet speed”, if you’d like, though you’d be — technically– incorrect.

1) Open your browser and access the router’s Control Panel.

(See the first section, here: https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/11/16/protecting-your-network-use-your-router-for-access-control-repost/)

2) Find the Advanced Settings tab for “QoS”.
[note:
refer to your make/model router’s documentation for the exact steps/menu choices — these are often listed on the side of your router’s control panel, or can be found on the manufacturer’s website.] (On a Linksys, that is under “Applications and Gaming”)

3) Give your PC’s MAC Address a rating of “Highest”
(To get the MAC, open a command prompt and enter “ipconfig /all”.)

* You might want to set other machines to “low”.

4) Save and exit.

That’s it, your done. Now your data packets will go first, and any other Internet user will have to wait for your request to finish.

[note: there are some other priority tweaks you can make here too. Click on the image to see large version, and note my arrows. And you can further “block” access by time, type, keywords, etc. My How To is here.]

[UPDATE: reader discussion of this topic has prompted me to write a further article. See, Restricting Roommates Internet Use – Continued.]

Today’s free download: EncryptOnClick is a very simple to use program that lets you securely encrypt and decrypt files.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 24, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, encrypting files, hardware, how to, routers, routers and WAPs, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Why do we compute?

What do you use your computer for the most?
* Communication: E-mail, Instant Message/Chat, VoIP (telephony), video conference/chat, blogging, social networking, presentations, creating documents for distribution, participate in Groups?
* Entertainment: (video) games, online videos/YouTube, IPTV/webcasts, online radio, play music, watch DVD’s?
* Information/Education: obtain news items, research Knowledge Bases (Wikipedia, WebMD), virtual classrooms, Search Engines, product reviews, public opinion, get directions and/or find businesses with Maps, math, read RSS feeds/blogs, check sports scores?
* Business/Commerce: buy/sell items online (Ebay, Craig’s List, Amazon…), collaborate, advertising/marketing, host a Website, research the competition, solicit, documentation, payroll, taxes/banking, perform required duties (yes, that’s kind of a catch-all; but what I mean is your job requires you to use a computer)?

Of course, I have omited plenty of things in this quick list, and other reasons don’t easily pigeonhole — like “to save trees by using less paper”, and “because everyone does”. A highly scientific study I just now dreamed up concludes that people use their computers for a healthy combination of the things I mentioned above, (although all my 12 yr-old nephew does is play video games..) and that they do some of them “online” and some of them not.
This highly scientific study also shows a direct correlation between the rise in global broadband availability and people’s using the Internet– more people are going “online” everyday. (I know of at least six.)

And, computers aren’t as new and frightening to us as they once were, nor do they require aquiring and mastering a foreign language.. like DOS or Unix. Why, just the other day I caught my father (most definitely not a member of the Computer Generation) watching a video on YouTube  (“Why, father, how Late 20th-Century of you!”). No, he was not watching a Smashing Pumpkins music video, but rather, some travelogue of Eastern Europe, but still, you see my point.

Tip of the day: Be nice to you computer and take good care of it. Protect it from viruses and spyware, and keep it clean and well-cooled. Be nice to it, and it’ll be nice to you. I’ve created a 10-point checklist to help.

Today’s free link: There are several things a PC owner should do to have a healthy computer and be safe(r) from online cyber criminals when they browse the Internet. I have compiled a short checklist that you can quickly run down and “check off” the items; and I have provided links to the tools and How To’s for those items you find that need mending– Top 10 Things You Should Do To Your Computer

[Addenda: One of the most common uses for computers falls into my list under “Entertainment”– the viewing of pornographic pictures and videos. (Does that surprise you???) If you (ahem) know someone who uses their machine for this activity, please read Like Porno Sites?–They LOVE you! by Bill Mullins]

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanixpost to jaanix

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June 24, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, PC, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can’t use their thumb drive at work–Reader Question

A reader e-mailed me a question I believe will be of interest to other readers of this series. He wants to use a thumb drive to transfer files between his computer at his work and his home computer, but the work computer will not recognize the thumb drive. He wanted advice on how to fix this.

Q: My thumb drive works great at home, but when I took it into work to try and copy some files so I could work at home, I plug it in and the little window never opens so I cannot use it. What am I doing wrong?
A: There are several possible reasons for this, and here’s a few things to try:
* One may be that Windows is “recognizing” the device, but isn’t displaying the little “Found new hardware” balloon for some reason (such as a Service isn’t running). Open My Computer, Start >My Computer, (just “Computer” in Vista) and look for the drive there. If it’s there, great, just double-click it, but if it’s not…

* Try plugging the drive into a different USB port. It is possible that the one you tried has “gone bad”. (It helps if you use an open port on the machine, and not use a hub.) If that isn’t it…

* Ask your company’s IT department if USB volumes have been disabled. Many companies are turning off USB access to iPods/Media Players and thumb drives (storage devices) in an effort to prevent “data leakage”.. which is a fancy way of saying, preventing the employees from walking out the door with the Company Secrets. If this is indeed the case, you can ask that an exception be made in your case. If your request is granted, they will re-“enable” USB storage devices on your machine.
But if that isn’t it…

* It is possible that the drive letter your thumb drive is pre-disposed to being assigned (say, “E:” or “F:”), is being used by another device or “share” on the company network, and so it isn’t being seen as a volume (aka “drive”).. you’ll have a volume, but without a drive letter, Windows won’t “see” it and you can’t use it.
a) Right-click on My Computer and select “Manage” from the context menu.
b) click the “+” sign next to “Storage” to expand the tree, and then click on “Disk Management”.
You will now see all the volumes on your computer..
DMang

This screenshot  shows that I have two volumes/drives, and that they both have been assigned drive letters [(C:) and (D:)] — this means they’re “recognized” and fully functional. What we’re looking for in our thumb drive issue is a volume that does not have a letter.

c) If you see one (that will be the troublesome thumb drive), right-click on it and select “Change Drive Letter and Paths…” from the context menu. A small window will open.
d) click on the “Add” button, and another small window will open. Use the drop-down arrow next to “Assign the following drive letter” and choose one of the letters (those shown will be “available” letters on the company network). It really doesn’t matter which letter you choose. Then click “OK”, and “OK” again.

You should now be back in business, and you can use the thumb drive as you’re used to. Open My Computer again and you’ll see the thumb drive and double-clicking it will open it up.

* If these steps fail to allow Windows to see the USB thumb drive, submit a trouble ticket to your company’s IT department.

Today’s free link: Once upon a time, the visionaries of IT thought that the answer to creating a “paperless society”, and getting all the disparate machine types talking to each other, was the PDF (portable document format). The PDF was to be create-able by anyone and readable by anyone, but Adobe didn’t see much profit in that… If you find that you need to create a PDF, but don’t have Acrobat or Word 2007, you can do so by downloading PrimoPDF, which can convert over 300 formats into .pdf’s.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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April 7, 2008 Posted by | add device, advice, computers, hardware, how to, PC, Plug and Play, tech, troubleshooting, USB storage devices, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments