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Apps and Software

Backing Up Your Data on Windows

Chris Moore - Thursday, November 24, 2011

I felt the need to write this post today as I've been dealing with some restoration work on my MacBook over the last 24 hours. Yes, that's right, I managed to kill my Mac - they don't always "just work". For some reason OS X 10.7 Lion didn't like it when I installed Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011 for Mac and decided to give me the Grey Screen of death. An Anti-virus package crashing your computer, weird right. Having said that, I've always had great experience with Kaspersky on Windows.

So anyhow, I though I'd give a little overview of backup options and how I take care of mine as it was quite a painless process for me to restore everything. I'll start with Windows 7 as this is what we operate on our desktops before moving to Macs early next year.

Windows 7

With Windows you have several options. The inbuilt option that comes with Windows by default is Backup and Restore. This can be found in Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore. Here you have the options to schedule backups, create system images and create a system repair disc via easy to follow wizard type setup. It also contains several options for restoring: users' files, another backup to restore files from, and system settings.

Backup will create a regular backup of Windows recommended (Default Windows folders and local files in libraries) or you can choose to customise this yourself. For most home users the first option will be the safe bet. You will only require the second option if you have your person files saved outside of the default Windows locations - in this case I personally have some items that fall in to this category and/or items that I do not want to include in the backup like my pictures as they are all on my MacBook.

A System Image will create an exact copy of your entire system that you can restore. This is basically like a point in time snap shot of your computer and can be made on an external drive, DVD or network location. It is only a backup of the System and System Reserved files, not your personal files.

A System Repair Disc is a bootable disc for in the event that you can't boot in to Windows to perform a restore. It contains recorery tools to restore your machine from a serious error or from a System Image. This is good to have if you don't have your original Windows install disc.

Given all this information, it must be pionted out that Windows Backup and Recover is a FULL backup and takes quite sometime to complete each time depending upon how much data you have.

What I really find a lot more useful however is an Incremental/Differential Backup for your personal files, this is much quicker than Windows full backup and only performs a backup on new and modified files, not all the files that are the same and were included in the previous backup. Much much quicker! There are a couple of tools for this, Microsoft SyncToy, SyncBack, Paragon Drive Backup, Comodo Backup, Cobian Backup, Easeus Todo Backup to name a few. Personally I use SyncBack and have been experimenting with SyncToy. I won't go in to how to use these tools here, that's maybe for another post, just know that they are your options.

What would I recommend for a complete Windows Backup? Here's my current thinking and what I have done for a number of years:

  1. Create a System Image on your external harddrive. Do this every week or two. Windows will also create restore points during upgrades.
  2. Create a System Repair Disc on a DVD
  3. Backup your files with SyncBack. Schedule this for every day or two at a time you are not using the machine or your usage is low. For example, 4am if your machine is left on.

This should give you a complete backup of your system and the ability to restore it. The following post will be on backing up your Mac and OS X.

Chris Moore

How To Setup Skype For Your Business

Chris Moore - Friday, July 30, 2010

What Is Skype?

Well first lets just take a few quick sentences to describe what Skype is to those of you that aren't completely familiar with it. Skype is basically a piece of software that you can download to your PC or Mac and acts as both an Instant Messenger with Video and VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone. That last bit about VoIP essentially means that you can make phone calls over the internet to any landline or cell/mobile phone on the planet at a fraction of the cost of a regular phone, and this is the first powerful feature that Skype has for your business (or personal) life. So let's take a look at the services and functions Skype offer the business user...

Skype Free Instant Messaging and Video Calls

As with most free IM software, the instant messaging between other users of the software is completely free, including videos calls. Here at Synapse Media for example we have staff located in both the US and Australia and we find it quite quick and easy to message each other when small conversation is required. Email just sometimes doesn't quite convey conversation in real-time. We also regularly have weekly or monthly video meetings or 3-way phone calls. The only draw back here is that currently Skype only supports 2-way video calls, so if you want to add that 3rd person you are going to have to drop the video unfortunately.

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Skype and Calling External Phones

So as mention above, Skype can be used for Local, Domestic and International phone calls to landlines and cell phones. Within the US you can make calls to landlines or cells for only 2.4¢/min (Pre-Paid) or sign-up for a Skype subscription for only $2.99/mo and have the ability for unlimited calls to landlines and cells within the US and Canada - try and find a phone company that offers that! On top of that, your international calls will only cost you a fraction of what the phone companies charge. For example, you only pay $0.021/min to call the UK and Australia. Here at Synapse Media for example, we are on a $2.99 monthly plan and use Skype to call everyone across the world. Add a nice headset for improved quality and you've got a solution that will not only rival, but beat most phone plans out there. Find all the calling rates here : Skype Pay As You Go Rates

Also, once you have a little Skype credit in your account, you can send SMS cell phones all over the world. For SMS rate take a look at Skype SMS Rates

And of course whether you Pay As You Go, Subscribe or just use SMS, all these can be paid for via either credit card or Paypal.

Skype Online Number

So you download Skype and get it all up and running within your business, making video calls to employees, calling vendors and customers on their cells...but they can't call you back! Don't worry, you can also register for a Skype Online Number. A Skype Online Number will essentially allow you to register a number in your area on which anyone can call you. All you need to do is chose the country followed by the state and you will be presented with a list of area codes for your region and the ability to chose from thousands of numbers to fit that area code. You can even put in wildcard asterisks to search for your perfect number! Online numbers do come at a small cost of €15 (~$20) for 3 months or €50 ($65) for a full year but you can get a 50% discount if you are a Skype Subscriber. We have had a few of our clients start to operate like thisRead more about getting your own number here : Skype Online Numbers

Other Skype Features For Your Business

In part two we will cover a few more topics to help you make the most out of Skype for your business including:

  • Skype To Go Number
  • Voicemail
  • Call Forwarding
  • Skype Manager
  • Skype Connect