TWT Newsletter, Issue #010 –, – Backing Up Online and Off
It’s the 10th of the month again and time for the March 2008 edition of the TWT newsletter. This month, the TWT newsletter reaches its 10th edition, so we’d like to say a big “Thank You!” to all our subscribers new and old.
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In this months issue:-
1) Online Backup Services Are They Right for You?
2) Tip of the Month – Change Your Firefox Download Folder and Un-clutter the Desktop
3) Free Utility of the Month – Digsby
4) Hardware Mini-Review – Netgear ReadyNAS NV+
On-line Backup Services – Are They Right for You?
If you have been reading our site recently you will have noticed the many articles I have been publishing about backing your data up. Even though we have tried to make the options as simple as possible to understand, we won’t blame you if your head is still spinning from all the information. One of the backup solutions we touched on in our backup guide was on-line backup services. Several companies now allow you to store a gigabyte or two for free with their on-line backup services. A gigabyte represents a lot of photos or office documents which makes these free services very attractive to users with a small amount of important data to back up. We took a look at two popular on-line backup services that offer free accounts. Mozy and Idrive.
offer 2 gigabytes of free storage space, if that is not enough, they offer an unlimited account for just $4.95 per month for home users, which represents excellent value for money. As with most on-line backup services, Mozy offers full encryption and lets expert users manage and maintain their own encryption keys.
After signing up for an account, you download the Mozy Backup software and with a few clicks you can specify which files or folders to backup. So far so good, for our test we tried to backup a 1gb Truecrypt volume. Mozy’s software got part of the way through the backup and then repeatedly crashed. We submitted an error report and contacted technical support, who suggested trying a smaller file. Admittedly most users would send files much smaller than this, but it is a shame that Mozy’s software can’t be a little more robust. Hopefully this error will be fixed in future revisions of the software.
is a similar service to Mozy which also offers 2 gigabytes of free data. If 2 gigabytes is not enough, 50 gigabytes is available for $49.50 for a year or $99.50 for a year for commercial use. Signing up to the free service was easy and using the Idrive backup manager was just like using Windows Explorer. Again we tested the software with our 1gb Truecrypt file. The software set to work backing up our file immediately, using the full bandwidth of our broadband connection. The backup was completed in just over 6 hours.
As well as backup, Idrive offer a versioning service. This means that you can configure the software to store previous versions of documents so that you can refer to an older edit to see what exactly was changed. This system is often used by software development houses, where tracking changes to program code is vitally important, but it can also be useful for more complex word processor documents and spreadsheets too.
While you don’t get unlimited space for your $49.50 we did find Idrive’s software much more stable than Mozy’s offering. If you only want a 2gb account for free, then based on our experience we would certainly recommend Idrive over Mozy. If you require a very large amount of storage, try the free trial of Mozy first on one of your larger files to see if it can upload it successfully.
Tip of the Month Change Your Firefox Download Folder and Un-clutter the Desktop
If you are a Firefox user and you download lots of files from the internet, do you find that your desktop quickly gets cluttered? Here’s a quick and easy solution. In Firefox, go to the Tools menu and select “Options…” Make sure the “Main” tab is selected. Now, look for a button that says “save files to”. This will be currently set to “Desktop”. Click on “Browse” and you can change the directory to any place on your computer, I prefer a folder inside my documents folder called “Downloads”. Be careful to put it somewhere you can get to easily!
Free Utility of the Month Digsby
Recommendation withdrawn – This software now bundles malware.
Hardware Mini-Review Netgear ReadyNAS NV+
Backing up is hard to do, or at least it seems that way to many users. As our appetite for digital media keeps on increasing, so does the risk that one day all our files will succumb to the inevitable hard drive failure and be lost forever. What can you do to prevent gigabytes and gigabytes of data going down the drain? If you are a small business user or a wealthy digital media buff, you might want to consider the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+.
The ReadyNAS NV+ is a small box with an LCD display at the bottom and a front panel which opens to reveal four Serial ATA hard disk bays. Users can install 1 to 4 SATA hard drives into the unit. With just one hard drive, the unit acts like a simple network attached hard drive, install two or more and it automatically configures the additional drives to back-up your data, protecting you from hard drive failure. Drives can be removed and re-inserted even with the power on, and four clear indicator lights on the front of the unit will alert you to any hard drive failure.
Once the hard drives are installed, it’s simply a matter of connecting the device to your network and installing the software on your PC. The software should find the device automatically, you can then open up the web interface and configure the unit.
There are a great deal of configuration options which can be set but fortunately for less experienced users, Netgear have included a set-up wizard which can walk you through the basic configuration options and have you up and running in no time. Once you have set these options and created some shared folders, you can access them across your network just as you do when accessing a network folder on another computer.
The unit comes with backup software for Windows machines, or you can use any of the popular backup or file synchronization packages available for Windows. We personally tested Acronis True Image, Goodsync and SyncBackSE, all three packages worked flawlessly with the unit. The Popular CD/DVD writing package Nero Burning ROM did not fare so well however, it took an inexplicably long time to cache and record files stored on the ReadyNAS to a DVD.
So far, so good, but it is the extra features that sets the ReadyNAS NV+ ahead of the competition. Need to backup your important data and transport it off-site? Attach a USB hard drive to one of the ReadyNAS USB ports and press “backup” and presto, you can make an instant backup (providing your USB device has enough space). Want to share a printer on your network? Attach it to the ReadyNAS and configure a few simple options and anyone in your house can print to your printer. Want to stream music to your Xbox360, Playstation 3 or other multimedia device? Turn on one of the compatible media streaming services and copy some music files to the device and enjoy your music while you play your games. The device even comes with a flexible plug-in system allowing for developers to add even more functionality to the device. One recent plug-in allows Bittorrent files to be downloaded directly to the unit, with no need to have your PC turned on at all. Another allows you to create a mini photo sharing site on your ReadyNAS so you can easily share your pictures across the internet.
The only minor gripes we have with the ReadyNAS NV+ are that the fan is somewhat noisy (though not as noisy as some of the Netgear equipment we have used in the past!) and very rarely during our test, the unit would disappear from the network for a split second, long enough to interrupt a file copy. A new system upgrade has just been launched that promises to correct such anomalies and since using this update for the past few days, we have yet to encounter the disconnecting issue agan.
At around $899.00 or £560 without any hard disks, the ReadyNAS NV+ is certainly not the cheapest NAS storage solution on the market. If you can live without the extra features, the D-Link DNS-323 SATA Network Storage Enclosure can accommodate two hard drives in RAID, but lacks many of the advanced features of the ReadyNAS NV+. If your budget will accommodate it however, the ReadyNAS NV+ is an excellent way to safeguard large amounts of valuable data against hard drive failure, and it is very competitively priced compared to other units offering similar levels of advanced functionality. To learn more about the ReadyNAS NV+, check out the
official ReadyNAS NV+ homepage.
That’s all for this month, on behalf of myself and all the TWT team we wish you a very happy Easter. We hope that you enjoyed our newsletter, if you didn’t then please take the time to
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