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Technology Today – June 2010
by Robert Sanborn

Backing up your system – More

Several months ago, I purchased a new Storage Backup system, the Iomega IX4-200D, a 4 terabyte storage unit that has four single terabyte hard drives in a RAID array.  Now before your eyes glaze over, the RAID system is to allow data to be spread over all four drives so that if a drive goes bad, the data is still intact and what you do is to replace the failed drive, and the system automatically rebuilds the backup on that bad drive to keep you going.  Well, woke up one morning with an error message that says there is no drive number 4 and I couldn’t access the storage unit at all.  After the panic set in, I shut down the Iomega box, waited a couple of minutes, restarted it and it then proceeded to “find” that missing drive and tell me that it has to rebuild it.  Not a really good confidence builder.

Until this time, the Retrospect software had been mostly annoying in how it was working because every day when I come to the computer, I see a message from Retrospect that it tells me that it cannot display the status update message (even though I tried and tried to tell it not to bother me with telling me that the backup was just fine) unless I open a separate window. The problem is that when you open that window, it sometimes changes the screen resolution to 800x600, force all the icons into one side in the corner, and force me to have to reset the desktop and screen resolution.  The other annoyance was that they keep telling me there is a slight version update available but it refuses to download and install.  Finally, what broke the last piece of straw was when I got worried and decided to make sure I could recover my drive images in the event of failure of the desktop, I discover that the version I am using will not create a bootable restore disc and you would have to follow three pages of instructions to Install Windows on a new drive, install the Retrospect, and then you might be able to recover your image.  Enough was enough.

I did send an email to technical support at Retrospect (EMC) and it took them 10 days to reply. The first problem they told me to live with, the annoyance about the download was to go to another site, download it there, and install it. (I had already tried that with no success); and the no CD option was to buy the upgrade to the next version.

Time to find something else.  Where I live, we have a Frys and they often have a killer deal where you can buy a copy of Symantec’s Internet Security, Ghost, and Utilities all in a single bundle with monster rebates to price it essentially for about $10.  Course you have to fight the rebate game and keep old packages to qualify for the upgrade rebates but it is worth doing sometimes.

I had used Ghost version 14 and was not happy with the updates, how it managed the backups, and a couple of other nits so was a little hesitant to install Ghost 15 but decided to give it a try since I had just purchased it.  The good news is that it installed very easily, and while the setup is still a little quirky, went through very well.  I created a new backup folder on my Iomega storage unit to separate the Ghost backups from the Retrospect backups, setup the schedule for wee hours backup on both drives, and after several days, it backups very well and quietly.

Next was to create the Bootable Rescue CD, and Ghost actually provides one as part of the install package but one thing I learned from dealing with Ghost 14 was that you need to include your network driver if you are going to go out to a network attached storage device like the Iomega.  And that is not easy. I have an Intel mainboard with built in gigabit Ethernet and you can’t just go to the .inf folder in Windows to pull it out because it doesn’t contain enough information to actually build the entire driver for Ghost.  You have to go to Intel’s website, download the latest driver for the network adapter or card, then start the install and wait for it to extract all the files. Then, do not cancel the install but just let it sit there while you go and figure out where it extracted those files to.  It won’t be easy to find them, but when you do, go and copy the folder called “Win32” to a place that is easy to remember.  Then you can start the process in Ghost to create your recovery CD.  For Ghost15, it worked very well except that on my desktop computer, I use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and the Ghost start up CD did not recognize them at all. I had to plug in a separate USB keyboard and mouse but I figure that is a minor irritation to deal with if I ever have to use the cd. At least I have one.  So for now, my backup in use will be using Ghost and I will soon dump the Retrospect.

Quicken 2010

I have been a Quicken user for years. I have gotten used to some of its quirks and oddities and have found it a powerful enough program to have that I just deal with those things I don’t like, send them an occasional email or suggestion, and have Quicken as one the programs that I will always use. So while I was at CES, I had them send me a new copy and to be honest, the 2009 version that I had been using was doing so well, I really didn’t want to go and install a new one. So it sat at the edge of my desk for three months.

If all you do is just track your checking account in Quicken, you have no need of updating the program from year to year but the advantage comes in when you need tax reports of income, dividends, gains and the like. The new version keeps on top of the tax changes for you.  So, to start, first make a back up of your current quicken database. A USB drive is a great place to store these critical backups, just don’t leave it plugged into your computer all the time.  The software installation starts immediately and it is pretty straight forward.  In my case, it uninstalled the old version, installed the new one, then asked me if I wanted to use the data file that it found.  An indication of when that file was last used would have been helpful in case there were several files out there. It then converts it to the latest Quicken 2010 format and saves the old files near the same folder where your data file is.  Unfortunately, it still puts three junk icons on your desktop and in my case, made my Vista sidebar disappear completely. A restart was needed to put things back.

So, on a fairly clean system, it went pretty well.  For new users, the 2010 version shortened the sign in time and has more connections to financial institutions for downloading banking information.  I have often not used this feature in Quicken because it seems the banks I use are charging too high a fee for a service that is actually saving them time and money. Go figure.   What has always been one of the more valuable parts about Quicken is the categories of transactions. Use them and you can generate all sorts of reports relating to your expenses over any period of time you chose.  It is also a great way of keeping funds for different purposes separate in the same account by using the Class.  The budgeting features are also done very well so you can set up budgets, allocate expenses, and see what is really taking your money.  Quicken is definitely a program to have.  Around $50 for the Deluxe versions to $90 for Premier and if you run a small business, then the Home and Business is for you. www.intuit.com or www.quicken.com.

Robert Sanborn





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