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Tricks & Tips

Posts Tagged ‘Backup’

How to Sync Two Computers

May 14th, 2009
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Mac/Windows/Linux:  Dropbox syncs your files across two or more computers. This program makes it so easy!  Basically you have a “virtual” folder.  Anything you put in here is instantly copied to all the other computers.

Example: While traveling with your laptop, you make changes to a Word document.  When you get home, the document is there on your desktop computer with the updated changes.  No files to copy or wrong versions to worry about.

Don’t have your computer with you?  You can access all your files via Dropbox’s web interface anytime.  Need to send a large attachment?  You can share specific files with others via a direct link.

Dropbox helps your business send large files, synchronize remote workers, easy off-site backup, and recover deleted files.  This program is smart.

Watch the video tour: getdropbox.com/screencast

Getting Started
Visit getdropbox.com and click Download Dropbox. Choose Run to start the install.

Ready to sync to your second computer?  Just download and install there also and your ready!

Getting More…
Dropbox comes with 2GB of storage for free.  You can upgrade to 50GB for $9.99/mo or $99/yr.

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The data you hold so precision is only as good as its backup. Your backup can only be trusted if it is monitored, verified, and tested.
 
There are several reasons a backup can fail. The most common reason is the destination might fill up and it can’t copy any more data. Other reasons for failure might be if your backup destination is unplugged, moved, updates to your computer, permissions, other programs installed or conflicting applications. The list goes on. The important thing to know is, things happen and no backup can be trusted unless it is monitored, verified, and tested.
 
Monitor –
Most applications we install, email us on failure. This is helpful in monitoring problems. You should review previous backups to ensure success. We use Cobian mostly for backups. It’s a free application and works well.
 
Verify –
Although you may get good news from your backup or lack of email failure notices, it is still good practice to actually look at your backup files at their destination to ensure they are being copied. If you know where this is, view them by date modified (Go to the View menu, click Details. Click on the header, Date Modified so the arrow is pointing down.). Ensure the dates are recent so you know files are being copied.
 
Test –
From time to time (3-6 months?), you should actually copy your data BACK to your computer and ensure it works successfully. This typically applies to application’s data (E.g. QuickBooks, customer relation management applications, medical software, etc). You want to KNOW your backup is copying and can be successfully restored in the time of need.
 
We’ve yet to find a backup solution that is 100% simple, and reliable. Again, we typically use Cobian and have found best success with it.  You can download it here: http://www.educ.umu.se/~cobian/cobianbackup.htm
 
If all of the above is too complicated, we can monitor your backup for you, or show you how to confirm your own backups. I simply want to stress that a backup installed 6 months or a year ago may no longer be working if it isn’t checked. Don’t wait until a failure occurs before you review your backup plan.

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Battery Backup

May 22nd, 2008
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UPS BatteryLet me get right to the point: You need a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply, aka. “battery backup”) on most electronic devices you own, especially your computer. If you value your investment, or the data you have collected, don’t skimp here.

Without a UPS, your computer or other electronic device plugs into your electrical outlet and is subject to whatever voltage comes down the line. Low voltage (brownout), high voltage (spike or surge), or other conditions feed right into your device. This can cause minor damage or complete failure.

A UPS plugs into the outlet first. It conditions and protects the power it supplies to your computer. And they work well.  If they don’t, most manufactures offer a warranty of coverage of ($25,000 or more) to compensate.

A UPS is commonly known to provide battery time to sustain your computer while the power is out. On a basic UPS you have 5-20 minutes, tops. This is enough time to save your work and shutdown. Or to prevent shutdown if your power is on the blinks. To provide sustained uptime, that would be a generator. 😉

Example:
Recently an office we support had a rare incident of continuous high voltage throughout the office. Initially walking in in the morning, all the computers were off but the lights were on. Odd, but we later determined the UPSes disconnected power to the computers to protect them. A couple of hours later, the power company found a problem on their line. Other medical equipment in the office, not on UPS were fried.

Don’t wait for a problem to occur to take this serious. The common manufacture for UPSes is APC. Office Max sells these for $40 – $100.

Here’s a pretty well written FAQ I found online: http://www.jetcafe.org/~npc/doc/ups-faq.html.

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Paperless Office – Part IV

March 27th, 2008
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You *MUST* Have a Backup
A final step to going paperless in your home or office is to have a good backup system in place.  If you’re going to scan and save important document you definitely have to back them up.  There are so many options out there, you really can’t afford not to do something.  Over the years you can only imagine the horror stories we’ve heard.

Options for backup are as simple as purchasing a backup hard drive from a local electronic retailer or backing up to an offsite server (we provide offsite backup services as well as so many others online).  Some hard drives you might purchase include software for backing up.  This works, or, we have used Cobian in the past.  We are currently testing new backup software, SyncBack.  I’ll write more later on how to choose the best software.


Bonus Tip…

If you’re going to store everything on your computer and throw away the original, you might ask, “Can I store receipts electronically for the IRS?”
Don’t take my word for it, but according to a search on Google:

Does the IRS accept digital receipts? Yes. According to ruling Rev. Proc. 97-22, the IRS allows one to prepare, record, transfer, index, store, preserve, retrieve, and reproduce books and records by either electronically imaging hard copy documents to an electronic storage media, or transferring computerized books and records to an electronic storage media that allows them to be viewed or reproduced without using the original program.

Can I throw away my receipts once I have captured an acceptable image? Yes. According to ruling Rev. Proc. 97-22, the IRS permits the destruction of the original hard copy books and records and the deletion of original computerized records after a taxpayer completes testing of the storage system.

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