APCUG May newsletter articles:
1. Backing up your hard drive
By Gene Barlow
User Group Relations
Copyrighted January 2002
Your computer hard drive is very important: Your hard drive is the heart of your computer system. It contains your Windows operating system, which is the master control program of your computer. It also contains all of your application programs that help you do productive things with your computer. But, most importantly, it contains all the data files that you create using your application programs. These data files are the most valuable part of your computer and the hardest to replace if something should happen to your hard drive.
Yes, your hard drive will fail on you someday: Your hard drive is a mechanical device that spins constantly and is certain to wear out. The life of a hard drive is only 2-3 years. If you are lucky, your drive may last you 4 or 5 years, but it could go out in just 6 months. It is not a question of if your hard drive will fail, but it’s a question of when it will fail. All you can do is to be ready when it does fail by having a copy of all of the files on your hard drive saved away from your computer. Then you can replace the failed drive with an empty new drive and put all of the files on the new hard drive. This lets you be back up and running in a mater of minutes instead of days or weeks rebuilding your drive. This process is called backing up and restoring your hard drive and is the topic of this article.
What files should you backup: One of the first decisions you must make is what files need to be backed up to adequately protect you. I consider your data files as the most important ones to backup. Your data files are those files that you create using your application programs. If you use Quicken, then the data file that needs to be backed up contains all of your financial records entered into Quicken. If you research your genealogy, then the database of your ancestors that you've collected for years is the important data file that must be backed up. If you correspond extensively using E-mail, then the folders of your E-mail correspondence needs to be backed up. You should plan on backing up your data files at least daily.
The second most important thing to backup is your entire hard drive and all of the files on it. This includes your Windows operating system as well as all of your application programs. By backing up the entire hard drive, you will not have to rebuild your system from scratch, but will be able to quickly get your system back up and running again. Some would suggest that you really don't need to backup your operating system and application programs because you can always reload them from the CDs they came on. While this is mostly true, you need to consider how much time this will take you to reinstall the operating system and all of the applications you own. Then, how long will it take you to download all of the software patches and add-ons that you have added to your system. Finally, how long will it take you to enter all of the special settings that you must do to have your system work exactly as you like it to. To this lengthy time, consider how you can recover the many programs and files for which you do not have a CD. I think when you consider all of these factors, you'll agree that having a backup of your entire hard drive is a wise investment of your time. You should plan on backing up your entire hard drive on a monthly basis.
What media is best for backup: The next question you need to consider is what is the best media to backup your files from your hard drive. A few years ago, tape backup systems were the most popular backup media. The only problem with these tape systems was that they were very slow. Backing up a 1-2GB hard drive in a couple of hours was reasonable, but backing up today's 40GB hard drives to tape would take too long. You would not do it often enough to be usable. The next popular backup media to come along were the removable disk cartridge drives. These were much faster than tape, but the cartridges tended to be expensive. For example, a 40GB hard drive would need 10-20 Jazz (2GB) cartridges to backup the entire drive. At $100 each, you would need to invest over $2,000 in cartridges to backup your entire drive. Writing to blank CDs promises to be one of the best backup media today, but even the fastest drives are slow and it takes many blank CDs to backup a large hard drive.
So, what is the best media to backup a 40GB hard drive today? Another 40GB hard drive! Hard drives are much faster than tape and are even faster than the disk cartridge systems. You can backup an entire 40GB hard drive in less than an hour or so. Since it is fast, you'll tend to backup your system more often and this means better protection for you. Hard drives are also very inexpensive to purchase. If you watch prices carefully, you can get a 40GB hard drive for $99 or less. I would plan on having an extra hard drive for backup purposes for each hard drive that you save data on.
What type of backup software is available: There are two very different backup utilities on the market today -- File backup utilities and Partition backup utilities. File backup utilities are by far the most common. These utilities backup individual files one at a time. They can also be used to restore individual files to your hard drive. A good feature of File backup utilities is that they can select individual files from all parts of your hard drive. This is great for picking and choosing your important data files to backup. On the other hand, File backup utilities tend to be quite slow in backing up your entire hard drive and you would need to make many extra steps in rebuilding your hard drive partitions in case of a total failure. That is where Partition backup utilities have the advantage. Partition backup utilities backup entire partitions and all the files contained in them. Some of these Partition backup utilities work at the lowest hardware level and are very fast. Restoring a partition to an empty hard drive using a partition backup utility will create and format partitions as it restores the partition file.
PowerQuest Corporation has an excellent backup software package that contains both a File backup utility and a Partition backup utility combined in one product. This product is called Drive Image and has a list price of $69.95. The File backup utility in this product is called DataKeeper and is designed to backup your individual data files on a frequent basis. The Partition backup utility in the product is called Drive Image and is designed to backup your entire hard drive every month or so. Let's take a look at how these two utilities can be used to backup your system.
Backing up your important Data files: As mentioned earlier, the data files on your system are the most important files on your computer. They are also the hardest to replace if something should happen to your hard drive. Backing up your data files should be your first objective in establishing a good backup plan for your system. Data files change daily and need to be backed up on a daily basis.
Using PowerQuest's DataKeeper utility, you can select all of your important data files from various part of your hard drive. If you have spent a little preparation in organizing your hard drive, you may already have all of your data files collected together in the same partition. This makes it easier to identify and backup these important data files. DataKeeper will let you backup all of your data files or backup only those that have changed since the last backup. You can also compress the backup files to about half their original size when you save them to conserve space. You can backup an individual file up to 99 times without replacing an earlier backup copy of that file. This gives you the ability to keep multiple backup versions of a data file as it is being developed. If you need to see the file, as it was several versions ago, you can do so with DataKeeper. It will backup these files to any device having a standard drive letter, such as a special backup partition on a hard drive or a removable cartridge drive. If you create your data file backups on a hard drive, try to place them on another hard drive than the one the original data files are stored on. Also, you should copy these backup files to a blank CD every month so that you will have some removable media that you can store away from your computer.
One of the best features of DataKeeper is its ability to monitor the import data files that you select and to automatically backup a file as soon as it is changes. Using this monitoring approach, you never have to think about backing up your data files since this is done for you automatically. It also assures that you have a backup of these important files that is current to the last minute or so. This is a powerful feature of DataKeeper and one that I would highly recommend using.
Backing up your entire hard drive: The second most important part of your backup plan is to backup your entire hard drive at least once a month. Having this backup in place will protect you from a major failure of your entire hard drive. Using PowerQuest's Drive Image to backup your entire hard drive you have two approaches to select from. Let's look at each of these approaches separately.
The first full-drive backup approach is to use Drive Image to copy all of the partitions from your main hard drive to a backup hard drive. Both hard drives must be installed on the same computer system to do this approach. Using Drive Image's Disk-to-Disk Copying facility, you copy the partitions from your main drive to the backup drive, one at a time. When Drive Image copies a partition, it creates a new partition on the backup drive, so the drive can be empty of partitions before you start the process. Also, copying a partition copies not only the partition, but also all of the hidden files, system files, and other files contained in the partition to the backup hard drive. So, when you finish copying all of the partitions from your main drive to the backup drive, you have an exact duplicate of your main drive that could be used if your main drive failed.
After copying all of the partitions to your backup hard drive, you need to disconnect the backup drive and remove it from your computer system. You should store the drive away from your computer, so that if anything happens to your computer, your backup drive will not be affected, too. Once a month, you'll need to retrieve this backup hard drive and insert and connect it back into your computer and repeat the backing up of all of your partitions, then remove it again from your computer. If something should happen to your main hard drive, simply get your backup hard drive and replace your main hard drive with the backup drive, setting it as a master drive, and you should be able to immediately start your computer and have it run. To simplify the frequent removal and replacement of your backup hard drive, you can purchase a hard drive rack mounting system from your computer store for about $25 that will let you remove and insert the drive without removing the covers of your computer.
The second full-drive backup approach is to use Drive Image to cross backup one hard drive to another. With this approach, you install and leave both hard drives in your computer all the time. For this approach to work, you'll need to setup a large backup partition at the end of each of the two hard drives. PowerQuest's PartitionMagic utility is the best way to create these backup partitions on your hard drives. Once the two drives are in place with a large backup partition on each of them, you can use Drive Image to create condensed image files of entire partitions and store them on the backup partition of the other hard drive.
To make this a little easier to understand, let's look at a simple example. You have two hard drives and the following partitions on each of the two hard drives:
C: partition (Contains your Operating System)
D: partition (A backup partition)
E: partition (Contains your Application Programs)
F: partition (Contains your Data Files)
G: partition (A backup partition)
Using Drive Image, create an image files of your entire C: partition and all of its contents on your G: backup partition. Then, using Drive Image, create an image file of your E: and F: partitions on your D: backup partition. These image files represent the entire partition and all of their active content. These image files can be condensed by 40-50% to save room on your backup partition. Notice that we save the images from one hard drive to the other hard drive's backup partition and visa-versa. Hence, we call this the cross backup approach.
Once a month, you'd repeat this cross backup approach from one drive to the other until you fill up the backup partition. Then you'd delete the oldest image file to make room for the new image file to be stored in your backup partition. If either of your hard drives should fail on you, all you have to do is to remove the failed drive and place an empty new drive in its place. Then using Drive Image, you find the latest condensed image of the partitions on the failed drive on the other drive’s backup partition and restore that image to recreate the partitions and all of their content on the empty drive. This lets you be back up and running your computer in a matter of minutes instead of days or weeks rebuilding your system. If the drive that failed was your first drive containing your operating system, that is no problem. You can boot Drive Image from a DOS diskette and quickly rebuild your operating system partitions from the second drive's backup partition.
What if both hard drives fail together: While it is rare, it is possible for both of your hard drives to fail at the same time, thus leaving you without either of your backup partitions to use to rebuild the other hard drive. For example, your computer could be burned in a fire or taken by a thief. In these cases, you'd loose not only your main drive, but your backup images as well. So, you need to make some special provisions to guard against these situations. I'd recommend that every 3 months, after you have backed up your partitions using the cross backup approach, you use Drive Image's ImageExplorer to split your condensed image file into multiple segments that will fit on blank CDs. Drive Image will burn these image segments on multiple CDs for you or you can use the CD burning utility that came with your CD-R/RW drive. While this may take a while to do, it will give you an inexpensive removable backup of your entire hard drive that you can store away from your computer. I would repeat this process of creating backup CDs of your entire hard drive every 3 months or so.
Summary: If you follow the suggestions in this article, then you will have a comprehensive backup plan that will protect both your important data files as well as your entire hard drive. You must make sure that you follow the time intervals suggested so that your backups are current enough to be usable. PowerQuest's Drive Image product, a second hard drive, and a CD-R/RW drive are all the software and hardware you need to run this backup plan. A second hard drive and a CD-R/RW drive can both be purchased for about $100 each. Faster models are available for only a few dollar more. User group members can purchase Drive Image at the user group price of $35 by accessing a secure web order form at www.ugr.com/order/. You will need to enter the name of your user group and the special code UGNL02. I wish you success in setting up your backup plan.
User Group Relations Voice: 801-796-7370
There is no restriction against any non-profit group using the article as long as it is kept in context, with proper credit given to the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an International organization. Please let Gene know if you use his article.
2. Why I am Against the Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act
By Dennis Courtney
President, Capital PC User Group -
The Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act (IFBDA), popularly known as the Tauzin-Dingell Bill, narrowly passed the House of Representatives last month and is now headed for the Senate. It faces more of a challenge in the Senate but its defeat is by no means assured. After you read this article I hope that you will join me by adding your voice to the chorus calling for the defeat of this bad piece of legislation.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
IFBDA supporters claim that the bill is intended to free the Baby Bells from the burden of regulation so that they can bring broadband access to their customers. The trouble is it frees the Baby Bells from all current regulation and prohibits the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and various states from ever regulating broadband. Specifically, it frees the Baby Bells from the requirement that they resell access to their service lines to other broadband providers and prohibits anyone from regulating them. This means that they can freeze out other broadband providers, charge you whatever they wish without any service level requirements while both the state and federal governments will be prohibited from doing anything about it! Instead of making broadband access competitive, IFBDA is very clearly anti-competitive.
The bill states that “the imposition of regulations by the Federal Communications Commission and the States has impeded the rapid delivery of high speed internet access services and Internet backbone services to the public, thereby reducing consumer choice and welfare.” Giving the Bells carte blanch to avoid competition and charge any price without ensuring a minimum quality of service does nothing to increase consumer choice or welfare.
Have you ever wondered what all those different taxes
listed on your phone bill are for? At
least some of them were supposedly earmarked to help build a nationwide
fiber-optic system. Over half of
The New Jersey Ratepayer Advocate wrote about NJ Bell Atlantic “...low income and residential customers have paid for fiber-optic lines every month but have not yet benefited. Bell Atlantic-New Jersey has over-earned, under spent and inequitably deployed advanced telecommunications technology to business customers, while largely neglecting schools and libraries, low income and residential rate payers and consumers in Urban Enterprise Zones as well as urban and rural areas”.
Follow the Money
Why would the House pass a bill so obviously pro-business and anti-consumer? One has to wonder when looking at the money spread around by the Bells in support of Tauzin-Dingell. According to the non-partisan campaign contribution reporting site www.opensecrets.org the Bells gave over $19.4 million dollars from 1999 to 2001 in PAC, soft money and individual contributions. Opponents of Tauzin-Dingell gave just over $8 million. Supporters of Tauzin-Dingell received more than 7 times as much money from the Bells than they did from the anti-Tauzin-Dingell groups. More than 180 House members got 10 times more money from the Bells - and they voted to approve the Bill by a 5:1 margin. Those who got equal amounts of money from both sides voted 2:1 against the Bill. Some 16 members of the House received no money from either side - they voted 13-3 against the Bill. The strong correlation between money and votes in the House make the defeat of the legislation in the Senate an uncertain conclusion. The Bells have ‘deep pockets’ and have shown that they are willing to invest in making sure that they have their Congressman’s ear on this matter.
What Can You Do About It?
First you should educate yourself regarding the
issue. This article is a good first step
but there is plenty of information on the subject to be found on the Internet
or through your local consumer watchdog organizations (the public utility
commissions in 30 states, including
Second, contact both of your state’s Senators and tell them what you think about Tauzin-Dingell. Although we don’t know yet what the bill will be called when it reaches the Senate, they’ll know what you mean. Many Senators will accept Email directly or through the Senate website at http://www.senate.gov. Whatever you think about this legislation, let your Senator know. If it passes in the Senate you can be assured it will be signed into law and you will be living with the consequences for a long time to come.
Dennis Courtney is the President of the Capital PC User
There is no restriction against any non-profit group using the article as long as it is kept in context, with proper credit given to the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an International organization.
3. The Mac Corner
By Kurt Jefferson email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Mac support
Want a Mac site that's chock full of goodies? Try the About.com Mac support page:
What I especially like about this page are the numerous links in the left-hand rail. You'll find links for G3 and G4 processors, iMac, iBook and PowerBook support, upgrading old Macs, installing memory and maintenance tips. As you know, half the battle of finding what you want
on the web is, finding it. This site helps you find the Mac stuff fast. What don't I like? The pop-up ad that dropped behind my browser on the day when I visited this page. That's a pain.
April 15 looms
Still working on those taxes? Visit the I.R.S. online:
You'll find links for help, downloadable tax forms, a place to e-file your taxes, and more. Some studies show that tax help sites are some of the fastest-growing places on the web.
Here's one of my favorite tax sites:
This page is filled with links that not only inform, but teach.
Then there's H & R Block's Tax Cut software:
And of course, Intuit (makers of TurboTax for Mac) has its tax page filled with goodies:
Here's where you can find the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet's page for downloadable tax forms, news, tax laws and more.
The folks over at c|net sure like the current crop of Apples. I checked out their reviews of the newest iBook, PowerBook and iMac. The iBook made the Editor's Choice list. c|net says that laptop continues to be a great consumer notebook. The PowerBook G4 also is named Editor's Choice. c|net says it has "heart-pumping performance." And the new iMac is so new that
only a preliminary review by Mac user Gene Steinberg was available when I wrote this. But 92 percent of the folks who took the time to review the new iMac (with the base that resembles a volleyball cut in half) gave it thumbs up. From early sales, it appears the new iMac will outsell the original.
I'm a member of Central Kentucky Computer Society (CKCS) in
There is no restriction against any non-profit group using the article as long as it is kept in
context, with proper credit given to the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial
Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an International
organization to which this user group belongs.
4. Trimming and Cutting for Dummies Like Me
By Bruce Switalla, Coastal Area Users Group (CAUG)
Since it will be a while before I learn how to get my graphic printouts to line up correctly on pre-perforated paper, I decided to simply save money on mistakes and take matters into my own hands. So, for the Feb. graphics SIG, I briefly demonstrated how I make business cards, greeting cards, and photo prints without the perforated paper that I can't always figure out how to line up.
For now, I use Epson Matte Heavyweight paper (52-lb) for everything. It makes a thin but acceptable bus. card, and it doesn’t stick to glass photo frames. As shown at the meeting, it yields rich, dark colors too. For business card software, I use Print Artist and can get it to print TWELVE cards per 8˝ x11 sheet with hairline crop marks that get split in two and don’t show. The pre-perforated bus. card sheets I’ve seen yield only ten and thus leave wasted paper.
For bus. cards, greeting cards, and photos alike, I use the following equipment. I place an 11x15 Good Cook Flexible Cutting Board (about $2.95) from H-E-B’s cooking utensils section down on my table surface. Yes, it gets cut marks in it, but that’s what its for! I heard at the meeting that a fabric store has more costly cutting mats that “heal” after you cut into them thus preventing the knife from following a previous groove. To cut, I use an Exacto knife (from Hobby Lobby) and keep it covered with its plastic cap when not in use. For the projects without crop marks like photos, I use 2 sharp pencil marks to determine where to cut. I place the knife on the mark first, then slide a cork-backed metal ruler (available cheap at Office Depot) against the knife at my first point. Then, holding the ruler down with my finger out of the way of the cut, I place the knife-point in the other pencil mark, pivoting the ruler this time against the knife. I consistently keep the knife straight up while watching my fingers. I cut 2 or 3 times just past where I need to, so the side cuts will come apart when finished. I got a beautiful 5x7 mahogany-colored wood frame from Dollar General for $2. And 8X10s are 3 and $4. By the way, if you go with glossy paper, you cannot let it touch the glass, so you will need to place a spacer, like a mat, around the photo (a job for the pro’s).
If you can control how large your photo prints out, you may opt for 4˝x6˝ or so with white borders that you leave when you cut to 5x7, since a 5x7 wood frame will cover a quarter inch on all sides, and ink is expensive. Measure the frame’s inside dimensions for white border (cutting purposes) and from the front of the frame measure for printing purposes but be sure no white will show after framing. Better to think this all out and practice on Crayola-colored notebook paper than mess up a print. “Measure twice…”
One thing I didn’t cover at the meeting was folding greeting cards. I place two pencil marks down the center of where I need to fold Then I put the ruler edge over the marks and use a pizza cutter roller to crease neatly the fold I need. Care is needed to avoid rolling away from the ruler’s edge. The resulting fold looks professional!
There is no restriction against any non-profit group using the article as long as it is kept in context, with proper credit given to the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an International organization. Please let Bruce know if you use his article.