Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to Backup if you Only Have One Hard drive?

It is possible in Windows 7 to back up to the same hard drive that Windows is installed on.  In order for this to work, you first need a hard drive that is large enough for the operating system, your files, and the backup and secondly a second partition on the operating system hard drive.  Personally I would not recommend trying this on a hard drive much smaller than 320 GB.  Also like I mentioned in a previous post, I do not recommend using this as your only backup method: http://www.computer-skills.info/2011/08/backupsdo-you-have-one.html.

Just note if you have a second hard drive, you should by all means use that for the backup! You can use the same directions below; just skip the first parts about creating a second partition and go down to Next Step – Setting Up the Backup.

This does not work in with the Windows Vista or Windows XP backup applications.  If you want to backup in Windows Vista or XP, you will need a third party program to perform the backup to the same hard drive.

Creating a Second Partition

First off, we need to create a second partition, if you don’t have one already.  Some manufactures will split the hard drive into two partitions so you might be all set.  Creating a partition basically splits the hard drive into 2 hard drives or more.

Go to Start, right click on My Computer and go to Manage.


Once the Computer Management Console opens, go to Disk Management, which is under Storage (it may take a few minutes to load the hard drive information).  In my screen shot, you can see that my hard drive is already split into 4 partitions, all originally created by Acer for the purpose of system restoration.  My hard drive is a 750 GB hard drive.


Right click on the Windows partition and click on Shrink Volume the Windows partition should be the only one with boot in the status and will most likely be the largest partition.


It will take a few minutes for the computer to figure how much it can shrink the Windows partition by and present you with its results.  In my case 324,824 Mega Bytes (MB) or 324 Giga Bytes (GB) can be freed up.  Results will vary considerably here especially if you have had your computer for a while, hopefully you can get at least 100 GB.


Enter a size for the amount of free space you want to create for the new partition.  In my case I am going to go with 200,000 MB or 200 GB, which should be more than enough for me.  Once done entering size, click Shrink and Windows will shrink the partition, shrinking the partition may take some time.


When the computer is done shrinking the partition, disk management will show the free space created.  Just a note about hard drives at this point, you are only allowed 4 partitions per hard drive, so you may be wondering how I am able to have 5?  The last partition on my hard drive is a logical partition (the Windows partition, designated by the fact that it has a green outline around it), which is capable of holding volumes (instead of partitions).  A logical partition is basically a partition holding more partitions or correctly called volumes within itself.  So, depending on how your hard drive is setup, you will be creating either a partition or volume.


Right click on the free space and click create New Simple Volume or New Partition.


Click Next in the New Partition Window.


Enter a Value for the size of the new partition, unless you need something special you should be able to just accept the default number and click Next.


Choose a Letter to assign to the new hard drive.  Again you can just accept the default and click Next


For formatting the new partition I recommend using the NTFS file system, Default allocation unit size, add your volume label – in my case I am going to call it Backup; and check the box next to Perform a quick format; click Next when done.


Click Finish.


Once you click finish, Windows will create and format the partition/volume.  This may take a few moments.


Next Step – Setting Up the Backup

First go to Start and then go to Control Panel.


In the Control Panel go to System and Security

Control Panel

Under System and Security in the control panel go to Backup and Restore.


Click on Set Up backup in the right top corner.


It will take a few minutes for Windows Backup to start, once it does select the hard drive to back up to, in this case hard drive (partition) Backup (D:), which we created in the previous steps.  You should receive a warning that the partition is on the same disk as the operating system.


In the next screen you can choose what to backup.  You should be able to just leave it as Let Windows Choose what to backup.


On the next screen you can review the settings and change the schedule.  If you need to change the schedule click Change Schedule.  When done click Save settings and run Backup.  Windows will then run the backup for the first time, which may take a few hours.



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Backups–Do You Have One?

“Better safe, then sorry!”

Three questions:

  1. Do you have a backup?
  2. And most importantly, does it WORK?
  3. Do you know how to get your data back from your backup
Most people realize they need some form of a backup and have even gone to the trouble of setting one up.  However, does it work?  I have seen some interesting backup solutions over years, a couple note worthy ones (if these described you, you have some work to do):
  • I have a USB flash drive I backup to occasionally.  Whens the last time you backed up?  Um, about a year and half ago.  Yea that should work really good!
  • For last 6 months my backup program keeps saying the media is full!  More than likely this means your backup source is full and any backups will be pretty much worthless.
  • External backup hard drive and backup program that backs up daily.  From what I can see I’ll bet it works really good without the external hard drive plugged into the power outlet!
  • No don’t need a backup, nothing I need to save if something happens.  Oh crap my hard drive crashed I need a couple of important documents!

These scenarios are just some of the backup solutions/problems I have run across.  Unfortunately all of these problems I have run across have occurred after the user lost some data or after the computer crashed.  By the way, just because your computer crashes does not mean your data is lost, in most cases it can be recovered!

Now for a third question, assuming you can answer yes to the first two!  If your lucky you have never had to restore from backup, but knowing how to restore is just as important as actually having a backup.  Having a backup is worthless if you do not know how to restore the data.  If possible you should test restoring from your backup once you set it up.

Some Backup Solutions (more or less from worst to best)

USB Flash Drive – Good for backing up files and pictures, just note that pictures can take up a lot of space in hurry!  While this is not a bad backup method, there is one significant problem (you).  This backup method requires interaction on your part and like my example above if you forget to backup, it basically becomes worthless.  One good thing about a flash drive is that is virtually indestructible.

Same Hard Drive – Yes, it possible to backup to the same hard drive and if you do not have the money to spend on additional components this is the method I recommend.  Just make sure you have a hard drive that is big enough for your system and your backup.  I would not recommend anything smaller then a 320 GB for this, and also make sure you create a second partition for the backup, preferably no smaller than 120GB.  There is one major problem with this backup method, and that is the fact that if your hard drive fails, most likely your backup will be history as well.

Second Hard Drive (or External Hard Drive) – This is definitely better than backing up to the same hard drive since the chances of both hard drives failing at the same time is small.  However, it is still possible if the computer catastrophically fails that your secondary backup drive could be ruined as well.  I recommend that you get a hard drive that is the same size as your main hard drive for best results.

Network Attached Storage – This is good solution if you have more than one computer you wish to backup.  This solution also allows you to have the hard drive completely separate from the computer, or even in a different building!  Just make sure you have enough space for all the computers you are backing up; also, if your network attached storage device allows, create a hard drive partition for each computer, this will prevent backups from other computers from interfering with each other.  Just to note, that restoring from a network attached device can be more involved as well as being slower depending our network connection speeds.  Also not all backup programs support backing up to network devices.

Online Backups – This is starting to become more popular and is possibly one of the best ways to backup.  These services however can be somewhat costly especially if you want to backup the entire hard drive including the operating system.  The biggest issue with online backups is the fact that they are only going to be as fast as your internet connection which even with a fast connection is going to be extremely slow.  This is why some online backup providers offer to snail mail your restored data.  While this is a great backup method I recommend supplementing it with your own backup for quicker data restoration.

Previous Versions–A Windows Backup Feature

Previous Versions is little known Windows backup feature that automatically backs up files and folders.  While this backup will not help you much in restoring a crashed computer it is great for restoring the occasional file you accidentally deleted or messed up.  Sorry XP users, this only works in Windows Vista or Windows 7.  Previous Versions was originally known as Shadow Copy and was part of Microsoft’s Server operating systems.

To access the backup, go to the folder where the file was originally stored and right click an empty spot and click Properties


Once the file Properties open, go to the Previous Versions tab.  It may take a few minutes for Windows to load the Previous Versions for the folder.


Under the Folder versions, find the date you want to restore from and double click on it.


Double clicking a restore point will open up a folder that will look like it was on that date


Now, find the file or folder you wish to restore, and what I usually like to do is drag it to the desktop first.  From there you can put it back in the original folder, alternatively you can drag it straight back into the original folder as well.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Disabling the Disable Add-ons Popup in Internet Explorer 9


For some people that have lots of add-ons this may be a handy feature for determining what is slowing Internet Explorer 9’s startup; but, personally I find this popup to be rather annoying, especially since I do not want to disable any of my add-ons.  Fortunately this feature can either be turned off or the delay time can be changed so it will only notify when you when it exceeds a set time.

First off, to disable the popup, click on the little down arrow next to the Ask me later button.  Select the Don’t disable button.  The popup should now disappear, unless you install additional add-ons.


The second option for ridding yourself of the popup, and the one I would probably recommend using, is to change the delay time.  First click the Choose add-ons buttons.  Under the Choose add-ons dialog change the “Tell me when the delay caused by add-ons exceeds [Time].”  Change the time until all the red bars turn to grey



Sunday, October 30, 2011

Selecting Files and Folders in Windows

file-selectedSelecting files or folders is rather simple, just left click on a file or folder and it and little highlight will appear around the file or folder indicating that it is selected.  There are however, a few trick that you may not know about that come in handy when working with files or folders.  An important thing to remember with some of these solutions is the fact that they can be used in other programs as well

Drag Selecting
To Drag select, simply press and hold the left mouse button down and select all the files or folders you need.  Once selected release up on the left mouse button.  This works best if all the files or folders are visible on one screen.


Selecting all Files
There are two ways of selecting all files or folders in a folder.  In a folder under Edit select Select All.  If you do not see Edit press the Alt key.  Secondly, and the way I prefer is to simply use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+A (press both the Ctrl key and the A key at the same time).  Either of these methods will select all the files and folders.


Selecting all Files within a Range
This is a handy for selecting all files between the first file you selected and the last file you selected.  Start by selecting the first file and then while selecting the last file hold down the Shift key on the keyboard.


Selecting only certain Files
To select multiple files that are not within a range, simply hold down the Ctrl (Control) key on the keyboard and start selecting files or folders.  You do not need to select the files or folder in any particular order.  Of all the methods of selecting files, I generally find this to be the most useful and possibly the least known.  Just as a warning, when using this solution be careful not to move the mouse while selecting the file otherwise you will end up copying the files rather than selecting them.  Also, you do need to hold down the Ctrl key the entire time, just while selecting the file.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Watch for Twitter Scam!

I just had some trouble with my Twitter account getting hacked.  Basically you get message from on of your friends that says “I here there is a rumor/blog going around about you [Link] might want to read it”  The link sends you to a page that says you need log in and it appears to be coming from Twitter.  The actual website though is www.itwitterj.com.  Apparently this is an elaborate scam to get your Twitter account information.  If your account has been hacked change your password immediately also let your friends know if they received a message from you to delete it!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How to Prevent Your Laptop From Sleeping When You Close the Screen?

I personally find this feature to be very annoying, I leave for a few minutes and shut the laptop screen and the laptop hibernates.  Fortunately this a easy fix.  Please note though that I do not recommend leaving your laptop on for long periods of time with the screen closed!  Heat tends to come up through the keyboard and can cause the screen to be come extremely hot.

Please note that these directions are for Windows 7.

  1. Start by going to Start and then the Control Panel:
  2. Go to Hardware and Sound:
  3. Click Change What the Power Buttons Do, under the Power Options
  4. Change the settings from the dropdown, next to When I close the Lid.  In my case I want the it to Do Nothing.  When you are down click Save Changes.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Moving Files To and From a Flash Drive

There are a number of ways you can move files around, but for flash drives, I find using the Send To feature in most cases to be the easiest.

  1. First plug your flash drive in and wait for Windows to recognize the device.  Once Windows has recognized the flash drive it will appear on the Send To menu.
  2. Next, right click on the file/s or folder/s you wish to send to the flash drive and go to Send To and find the flash drive on the list; usually the brand name in is in the name somewhere, in my case an HP flash drive.  Your file should now be on the flash drive – just make sure you wait for the files/folders to be copied before you unplug the device.
    Moving Files From the Flash Drive
  3. Next to move files off the flash drive, Go to My Computer and open the flash drive or if you just plugged the flash drive, Windows should popup a window with various options for the flash drive, one of which should be opening the device to view files.
  4. Find the file/s or folder/s you wish to move and right click on them, go to Send To and send them to the Documents (or My Documents).  Just to note if you send them to the desktop, this simply creates a shortcut and does not actually move the file.  Again make sure you wait to unplug the device until the files and folders are done being moved.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Operating Systems

This is something it seems like I always get asked/have trouble with – what operating system do you have?  When I do phone support, one of the first questions I usually ask is “what operating system do you have?”  It seems like very few people know or they’ll says something like “does Windows XP sound right?”  There are slight differences (sometimes not so slight) between different operating systems/versions.

Most of you have probably heard of Microsoft and their Windows operating system there are actually a larger number of operating systems including Mac OS, Linux, or a newer contender Chrome OS.  The first version of Windows was released in 1985 and was version 1 or Windows 1; before that it was DOS.  The latest version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system is Windows 7 (see screen shots below of both Windows 1 and Windows 7).



So, what is an operating system?  An operating system manages the computers hardware allowing for interaction (mouse, keyboard, ect.) between a user and an application (such as browsing the web).  An operating systems is basically just a giant program (actually set of programs) and without it your computer is worthless.

How do you know what version of Windows you have?
The desktop is not an good choice for determining which version of windows that you have due to the fact that various themes can make your version either look like an older edition or a newer edition. 

  • First when you bought your computer you should have documentation that says what version of Windows was installed on your computer.  It is worth noting that this sometimes is not correct.  Also worth noting there are different editions of versions for example Windows XP Home and Windows XP Pro.
  • The next easiest way to tell what version of Windows you are running is while the computer is booting.  Below are the screenshots of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 starting up.
    Windows XP
    Windows Vista
    Windows 7
  • A third easy way to determine which operating system you have is go to Start, right click on My Computer (or Computer) and click Properties.  This will open up the system information.  This method will also tell you what Version and Edition of Windows that you have.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

High Speed Internet But Its Still Slow?

I got a question here a while back from a person who upgraded to high speed cable broadband (20+ Mb) and was wondering why the internet did not seem any faster?  Probably one of the most commonly claimed reason for this is a slow computer, or it is undoubtedly caused by using a slow browser (Internet Explorer); registry errors; and viruses and spyware.

Now there may be some truth to some of these claims but there may be other reasons behind the slow connections as well.

  • First make sure that your system is virus free!  Viruses can definitely cause a slow connection or appear to be slow.
  • If you have any older computer, your computer simply may not be able to handle the faster speeds.
  • Test your internet connection and see how fast your internet connection actually is; you can test your connection at: http://www.speedtest.net/.
  • I have mentioned this in a previous post, as far as upgrading to a faster browser is concerned, this is pure nonsense.  Use whatever browser you feel comfortable using.
  • As for the registry errors, like the browser upgrade, this is a waste of time.  Cleaning the registry will not provide any noticeable benefits.  I actually saw an article in PCWorld where they tested this and there was either no change or the systems where actually slower!
  • One reason that may cause your connection to seem slow is the fact that the other side may be slow.  For example if you are trying to view a webpage from webserver that is either overloaded or simply has slow connection your content will load slowly.  In other words, your connection is only as fast as the connection on the other end!  In my experience this usually the most common reason for a connection appearing to be slow.
  • A second similar reason to the one above is the fact that all users share the same bandwidth (amount of Mb’s) and most ISP’s do not have enough bandwidth to service all their customers at the same time, so during busy times your connection speed may be slow, which should be reflected if you preform a speed test.
  • If you are on a Laptop (or a desktop) using a Wi-Fi connection that is poor, your Wi-Fi connection will be slow which can cause your internet connection to appear slow.

Below are a few screen shots of Speed Test.  Like a lot of speed test places, they have ads for registry scanning and upgrading to a faster web browser.