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Iomega’s eGo – An External Hard Drive in Disguise November 22, 2007

Posted by Mike in Data Backup, Hardware, Technology, Worth the Money.
2 comments

iomega-ego.jpg

Hard drive or flask? I think this USB external hard drive has an identity crisis! Maybe I’m imagining it, but the Iomega eGo looks like a flask to me; especially if you pick the black or silver color.

If that’s not enough to make you smile, the name itself is funny. eGo? Or should I type ego?

If they’re targeting self-centered, narcissistic customers then they’ve named the device well. This reminds me of Chevy’s decision to sell the Chevy Nova in Spain without renaming it. After all, translated into Spanish, “nova” means “no go.” Of course, the eGo name doesn’t damage the product’s reputation, but I think Iomega’s marketing team have taken the “e” naming scheme (ebook, ecard, etc) a bit too far.

Jokes aside, it looks to me like Iomega’s external hard drive offers plenty of storage space and comes in a variety of snazzy colors. It can probably be considered a good option for data backups, just like the Western Digital Passport or Seagate FreeAgent Go external hard drives.

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Allway Sync: Free Software for Data Backup or Synchronization August 21, 2007

Posted by Mike in Data Backup, Freebies, Software, Technology.
2 comments

Allway Sync Software

Synchronizing, transferring or backing up data can be a tricky process for the average computer user.  It is a topic that comes up often when I talk to clients because data loss is a person’s biggest nightmare. 

Some of my previous blog entries have talked about various products and services to help backup data.  (See Mozy – online data backupWestern Digital Passport External Hard Drive and Supercopy.)   Well, I’m about to add another product to the list.

Allway Sync is a good, user-friendly software product for synchronizing or backing up data.  It is free for personal use while business users should purchase a license and upgrade to the pro version.

Using the software, data can be synchronized between a PC and an external hard drive or between two networked computers.  The software allows for two-way synchronization (both data locations receive the most current copy of each data file) or one-way synchronization, which is essentially copying your data from one location to another and creating a backup.

After the backup job is configured, Allway’s software will analyze the files to be backed up and report on any modifications or deletions.   The user can then review the report prior to synchronizing.

Allway’s web site offers a more comprehensive list of software features.

I think Allway Sync software will work well for:

  1. Users who need to synchronize files between networked PCs.
  2. Users who have an external hard drive but no software to help automate a regular backup process.

 Allway Sync is a well designed piece of software that also manages to be easy to use.  Other people think so too.  Take a look at quotes from other software users who like to use Allway Sync.

Download Allway Sync here.

Regardless of how you do it, just be sure you backup your data.  Computer hard drives will crash sooner or later and an ounce of prevention is much less expensive than a pound of cure.

Western Digital Passport: An Excellent Option for Backing Up Your Data to an External Hard Drive August 17, 2007

Posted by Mike in Data Backup, Hardware, Reviews, Technology, Worth the Money.
223 comments

Western Digital Passport External Drive

I currently use a 120GB Western Digital Passport external drive to backup my data. It’s sleek, small and looks like a James Bond gadget.

I’ve used a Seagate FreeAgent external drive as well and I like the WD Passport device better.

Best Features of the WD Passport:

User-friendly software bundled on the drive, WD Sync by Dmailer, is great (much better than Seagate’s software, in my opinion).

  1. It allows me to setup multiple computer profiles so I can sync data from different PCs onto one device.
  2. I can password protect each profile.
  3. I can use a Windows Explorer-esque interface to select the files and folders I want to back up.
  4. I can review the files that I’ve backed up.
  5. The software can backup IE or FireFox Favorites.
  6. Emails and Contacts in Outlook or Outlook Express with a few clicks.
  7. Email SETTINGS can also be backed up with a click or two.
  8. Functions like “synchronize” and “copy to PC” are easily found on the main screen.

Worst Features

Based on the comments posted to this blog entry, I’d have to say the worst feature is a lack of user guides or online “how to” tutorials for customers.

Additional Limitations of the WD Sync software:

  1. The software only SYNCS data. If you backup a folder from your hard drive to the Passport device, this doesn’t mean that you can then delete that folder from your hard drive. Why? The next time you sync the WD Sync software will remove that folder from the Passport device. It considers your hard drive the “master copy” of the data. Any changes that are made to the master copy will be applied to the data on the Passport device when the next time you sync. If you want to avoid this situation, don’t use the WD Sync software that comes with the device. Instead, use the Passport device as a very large flash drive. You can manually copy/paste files to the external drive without using the WD Sync software.
  2. Given the issue in #1, I would suggest not using the “automatic synchronization” option in the WD Sync software. This features starts the sync process the moment after you enter in your profile password. Why not? Let’s say that you have a hard drive failure. Luckily, your data is synced to your Passport drive, right? Well, I’m concerned that if you get a new hard drive and connect the Passport device, the WD Sync software will notice that the new hard drive doesn’t have any of the files and folders from the last sync. When it runs automatic synchronization, you may then lose the backup copy of your data! I haven’t tested this theory out (don’t want to risk it), but it seems plausible. Instead, I’d uncheck the automatic synchronization option found on the OPTIONS menu.
  3. I wish the WD Sync software was smart enough to automatically include any new sub-folders in the sync process. For example, I have a folder called “My Digital Photos”. Inside that folder, I have many sub-folders. Each time I transfer photos from my digital camera, a new sub-folder is created. Despite having the parent folder (My Digital Photos) checked as a folder to sync, the WD Sync software will not sync the new folders because those folders did not exist during the last synchronization. Instead, I must use the WD Sync software to locate those new folders and place a checkmark next to them. This will include them in the sync process.

The WD Passport comes in a variety of storage sizes, like 60GB, 80GB, 120GB, 250GB etc. I would recommend it to anyone looking to use an external USB hard drive because the user-friendly software really makes a big difference to me.

How to Backup your Data Online for Free: Shall we Mozy? August 7, 2007

Posted by Mike in Data Backup, Learning, Online Service, PC ABCs, Software, Technology, Training, Worth the Money.
2 comments

Mozy Logo

Backing up your data is critical and using an online service to securely backup your information accomplishes two important objectives:

  1. First and foremost, you have a backup copy of your data!
  2. Second of all, your backup data is stored “off site” or away from your computer.

Point # 2 is often overlooked.  Folks backup their data to CDs, DVDs or external hard drives and then store those backup files in the same place as their computer.  Even worse, some store it in the same bag as their laptop! 

What happens when your bag is stolen? Bye-bye laptop and bye-bye data backup! 

What happens when your home is damaged by fire, flood or ________ (insert your natural disaster here)?   Bye bye computer and bye bye data backup! 

Ok, so disasters aren’t an every day occurrence.  What if you spill some soda on your external hard drive? Or drop it?  Or misplace it? Or your toddler wants to see if it will float in the bath tub?

Have you ever scratched a CD? Yep, me too.

In order to avoid this type of headache, online backup services are ideal.  I just tested out Mozy.com and found it very user-friendly.  They offer 2GB of free (and secure) storage, which will be either:

  • Woefully inadequate for users with large quantities of data     OR    
  • Just right for backing up a few important files, pictures, etc.

 Here’s what I like about mozy.com’s service:

  • Free 2 GB of storage (no trials or tricks, just good ole’ free!)
  • User friendly software identifies and categorizes files to backup and lists the size of the files (very helpful for novice users who often wonder what to backup)
  • Advanced features for those more comfortable with PCs and configuring backups.
  • Option to schedule backups to run on a regular basis. (In other words, set it and forget it)
  • Larger storage options available for a monthly (not annual) fee.
  • “Slider” setting in the software allows you to control how much bandwidth is used during the backup process.

 Here’s what I don’t like:

  • Slow upload speeds.

 However, this isn’t Mozy’s fault.  It’s a reality for most home users on DSL or cable Internet, except for that lucky 75 year old woman in SwedenUpload speeds are always slower than download speeds.  Regardless of the culprit, transferring large amounts of your data securely onto Mozy’s servers takes longer than transferring them onto an external hard drive or burning them to CD. 

That’s just a limitation of any kind of online backup service. 

I’d suggest you consider giving Mozy a try.  If you like it, you can decide whether to upgrade to a larger account (if you need it).

If Mozy isn’t to your liking, there are other online backup services to explore: 

Carbonite

Xdrive

Kela

Whatever you do, you need to backup your important data.  It will save you a lot of stress and worry when your hard drive crashes or your laptop wanders off. Backing up your important files limits a catastrophe to a mere inconvenience. 

Trust me.

This is experience talking here.    :  )