Tag: backup

Flood Recovery


Well, over the weekend one of my clients offices was flooded by a burst pipe from the apartment above. As I took the call on a surprisingly nice Sunday morning (no snow!) I thought that she couldn’t have imagined for a worse start to the new year.

I have spent the last few days assessing the damage over the telephone with her. At the moment we don’t know if the Macs survived the power surge that knocked out the mains electricity, after all surge protection only goes so far. What she hasn’t had to worry about, however, is her data.

About two weeks before Christmas I finally persuaded her to take out a 50gb account with Dropbox. So if the computers are toast, we can setup new ones, link them to her Dropbox and be up and ready to go in no time. She has also been using Google Apps Standard for the past year or so, so her email is safe, as are her calendars and contacts.

Whilst we wait for permission to move the computers from the insurers to a place where we can see if they work I have been able to email her essential documents, as and when she has needed them straight to her Google company email account on her Blackberry.

So all in all what could have been a disaster six weeks earlier, has been an unsurprising inconvenience but in the end not a disaster. Phew.

Thanks go to Dropbox and Google for making this possible!

Filed under: GeneralTagged with: , ,

Backing up WordPress

Wordpress Logo

Update: This post is no longer accurate, I now recommend UpdraftPlus Backup.

As a recent convert to WordPress (within the last 12 months) it has been one of the last areas I have considered putting backups in place. In the decade I have been working with websites (I currently manage two dozen or so) I have never had a web hosting company lose a website. Consequentially backups of our various websites have invariably been kept to note changes we have made to them, rather than to give us a backup of the site should the web host fail in their obligations.

As a relatively new user to WordPress I have watched it move from version 2.7 to 2.9 (with plenty of .1 upgrades in-between) in little less than 12 months. Each time a new version has been released WordPress has discretely pressed me to update it and obligingly I have complied, each time holding my breath for a good few seconds, until that welcome success message is returned and I am sure that my databases are intact (the real risk of corruption).

So in line with my New Year’s resolution to make sure that everything is backed-up and in recognition that most of the html content of my sites (excluding WordPress) is now additionally supported by  git, which acts as an effective backup process in my opinion. I thought it was about time I found a suitable, easy solution for backing-up WordPress and that solution came via a new beta program called WordPress Backup.

Though the site is little more than a year old (it celebrates it’s first year anniversary of its beta on 14th January) it offers an easy, automatic method to backup your site via the installation of a plugin in WordPress, which is complimented by a free account (so long as it’s for personal use or you just need to backup one site) with WordPress Backup. Overall the setup process takes less than ten minutes (instructions here) and after that automatic backups are made every two days to its servers, from which you can download a backup if your site corrupts.

Thanks to the development team at WordPress Backup I and the 2571 other users it caters to are able to easily and seamlessly ensure that we have a modicum of protection when upgrading between different versions of WordPress (and any unforeseen horrors that may happen) and work, such as this, is finally protected. Phew.

Filed under: wordpressTagged with: , ,

Bye Bye CDs / DVDs

So it’s the week before the New Year and like most of you out there I am considering my resolutions and doing some general spring cleaning. Now for geeks (and particularly those of an OCD bent) this normally includes a spring clean of various computer systems. And this year my focus has been on my CDs and DVDs.

Over the years I’ve built up a large collection of CDs and DVDs to which I’ve burnt backups of my systems, old client systems and the like. In fact I have a four stories high CD holder that my grandmother bought stuffed to the brim and overflowing to an artful stack carefully balanced on top.

Eva Solo CD HolderI also have a much more artful and pleasing desktop CD holder from Eva Solo that perches by my iMac and gives me access to those essential daily CDs and DVDs. (Did I seriously just write that? Honestly I can’t remember when I last used a CD or a DVD… Snow Leopard installation perhaps?) Anyway if you fancy one for yourself you can buy it from Amazon here.

Unfortunately although I’ve always taken basic care of my CDs I’ve never been one of those people who is insistent about always putting them immediately back in the case (or paper slip rather, I’ve way to many for actual cases) and over time they’ve become scratched and generally worn down as this rather imperfect medium for storing information tends to get. (Did anyone seriously think they’d last a decade? I’m struggling with ones five years old).

Anyway as I started to transfer the CDs to my collection of HDs it quickly became apparent that I was going to have to give them a little more tender loving care than I thought. Now I can just about hear the sigh of some you reading who always take perfect care of their CDs and DVDs, but in my defence it’s perhaps because I stopped buying CDs when I got my iPod or because I never really got into DVDs beyond a service like LoveFilm but I never thought about how damaging a few scratches could be.

So demanding an easy, quick solution, using just what I might have around the house, I remembered an old geek tale that you could repair damaged CDs with banana skins. Surely it couldn’t be true… but what the hell, I had some bananas, was a tad hungry so it seemed the way to go. But before embarking without instructions I did a quick google and returned these instructions. So rummaged through the kitchen and came up with a not too brown looking banana (it is the holidays), some window cleaner, some kitchen roll and a handy duster.

So all good to go, I picked a CD that had been giving me some difficulty. One file was repeatedly refusing to copy across (the kind of frustration I was looking to remedy). Not reading the instructions right the first time I had eaten the banana (seriously was I gonna waste it on some CDs) so I had to just use the skin. And after a couple of rub downs, followed by some squirts of window cleaner, the CD was looking better, and low behold when I inserted it into the drive it copied the file.

I was now on a mission and five hours later (did I mention I had a lot of CDs  / DVDs – 158 if you want to know) and some 22.4 Gb of data transferred I was all done. Now I just have to find a sensible way to dispose of my CDs rather than sending them to landfill. Any ideas would be welcomed in the comments.

Oh and for those of you wanting to know if it’s sensible to push all of your backups on to some local HDs can I point you to my earlier post on dropbox where most of my files have now been backed up to. Great system.

Filed under: TechTagged with: , , , ,

Buying More Google Space

So it seems that you can now buy additional google space, which is kind of cool, but it seems to me that google’s apps are still rather fragmented, for example: you cannot currently share your gmail space with your picassa account, although email takes up a infinitely smaller amount of space I’m currently using 2210 MB (29%) of my 7398 MB allowance covering about 50,000 emails and all their respective attachments, whereas I only have 13 albums in my picassa account and I’m using 378 MB (36.97%) of my 1024 MB allowance.

Although it is great to be able to buy additional space and it is certainly something I’d consider, if they can share purchased space why do they not allow us to have a single quota shared between all of the google apps? It’d certainly make more sense… In the mean time if you want to buy more space you can do so, at ever depreciating prices by visiting: here.

Filed under: GeneralTagged with: , , , ,

Never rely on one backup solution

So continuing my posts on my virus stricken computer drama, see the earlier posts “Poking a hornets nest” and “Dropboxing my way out of a crisis” I had decided after the crisis with iSure (which we had been paying £8.30 a month for the privilege of using and had replaced with a free 2gb dropbox account) to see if we could place the accounts files in the dropbox.

Unfortunately it became clear after a day or so that this solution would not work. As the accounts files (Quickbooks Pro if you need to know) were accessed from two different computers very quickly duplicates started to appear. So it was off hunting for another solution. Fortunately I had one up my belt. I’d been using Mozy since it first went into beta on the Mac and I thought it’d be ideal for this.

So again taking advantage of another free package, some 2gb before you need to pay, I installed it on the accounts computer and went back to sharing the file over the company network. So dropbox might have failed in my enterprise to handle these particular files (I suspected it might, but c’est la vie) but Mozy came through for me and provided a quick and easy solution to my problem.

In most of my personal dealings I use Mozy’s free service to backup the libraries of my MBP, whilst using dropbox to manage my files (I have a lot of files so I am using the 50gb account for that) as a type of replacement NAS as my one of my good friends @tsmarsh termed it. And I have to say it’s worked well for me so far and helped me out of a few sticky situations, so I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking for a peace of mind.

The benefit to these services when used free is that you can recommend them to your friends and family and get a little extra space each time someone takes up your referral, meaning it can satisfy a great deal of your needs without you having to spend a dime. All in all using this solution for my client has led them to a saving of £99.60, which in a recession the pennies truly count.

Filed under: GeneralTagged with: , , , , ,

Dropboxing my way out of a crisis


So in my previous posting “Poking a hornets nest” I had to deal with a dead XP box at a clients. Fortunately for me I had moved the company files over to dropbox a couple of weeks prior. So when this computer went down I knew not only did I have copies of their files independently on two other computers I had a copy too.

After a comprehensive check of the other PC in the office I established that the virus had not spread, I have to say I did have some concerns that dropbox might make such a spread easier, but fortunately for the moment virus writers haven’t seemed to cottoned on to this method of transferring viruses! Phew. But I think that this is something they had perhaps better consider as a potential risk in the future.

One of the reasons I spent so much time in attempting to restore this PC rather than wiping and starting again was the accounts files for the company were stored on it and we had been using a service provided to the company for the last couple of years by Barclays Bank called iSure, though Barclays had sold them an unlimited account, it’s primary purpose was to backup the accounts files.

Not only was there limited documentation in their business subscription pack telling you what to do when a disaster, like the one we were experiencing, happened, an hour or two worth of phone calls to their support line (where I had to give limited security information (it would be very easy to fake)) I managed to log onto their site and find the files we needed.

Unfortunately although the computer was left on 24/7 so that backups could run twice daily and it had gone down on a Friday morning, the most recent copy of the accounts they had was from the three days earlier. So to save having the work done that week have to be repeated, as well as the lost days, I had to recover the data from the hard drive that had been affected.

If we had been relying on this to backup the company’s main set of files, some 30,000 files or so they would all have had to have been checked for validity. And though files might not be changed on a daily basis we would have needed to check just to be sure. Though I had to rescue the account files, with the others once my re-install was complete I just added the new computer and hey presto the files downloaded. Genius.

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