Monthly Archives: July 2010

On-grime backup

Ever since we launched our report into the value people place on their digital data, we’ve been talking about the value of what’s inside your computer.

But, sometimes, what’s inside your computer isn’t valuable at all. Sometime’s it’s what’s inside your computer that puts your data at risk. And that’s why online backup is so important.

This picture comes from a story by our friends at Silicon.com on what lurks beneath the surface of our computers.

online backup

You can see more examples of the grime that’s festering underneath the sleek exteriors of some computers here.

It’s shocking stuff; especially when you consider what all that dust is doing to our hard drives. 13 per cent of all hard drives fail in the first year – that’s before they’ve even been subjected to this sort of abuse.

If the data that’s on your computer is important to you, we recommend that you back it up. It’s probably not a bad idea to give your computer a good clean now and then either. You can find a CNET guide on how to do that safely here.

Travel Insurance

Murphy’s law states that, “if anything can go wrong, it will.” In most cases, you can extend that to say, “…at the worst possible time.”

Or so it can seem when you’re getting ready to leave for your holiday and go to print out all of your travel documents. If you’ve gone online to get the best deals, there’s probably a lot of paper work for you take with you – an eTicket for the plane, an online reservation form for the hotel, a travel insurance policy, a car-hire agreement and any manner of other things that you might have arranged in advance.

So, having just checked in online, and scrolling through your documents to choose what to print out, this is quite possibly the worst time for your computer’s hard drive to fail. And that’s when Murphy’s law steps in and sends your computer into meltdown.

How are you going to get the documents you need in time to make your flight?

Shouting very loudly at the computer is usually the first thing to try, accompanied by banging the desk. Following that, begging the computer to start up again, questioning the legitimacy of its parenthood, and prayer seem like good options. Once these avenues have been fully explored, you’ll probably move on to more practical solutions.

If you’re lucky, your suppliers will have emailed some of the documents you’ve lost to an account you can access over the web. If you’re organised, you’ll have an online backup service that will allow you to get everything back that you need.

An automatic online backup service will quietly log all of your holiday documents as you received them, recognise they are new and copy them to a secure data centre in the Cloud. Without you even noticing, you’ll have saved your bacon.

A quick stop at the internet café at the airport and you can use your backup provider’s web portal to access all of your files and, though you may have to pay the coffee shop 10p a sheet to print out your documents, it feels like a small price to pay to get your hands on your stuff.

Recovering everything else you might have lost can be simply done when you return from your holiday. And, after a week in the sun, you might just have relaxed and calmed down enough to face your computer again.

Mozy online backup explained

Earlier this year, Russ Stockdale, the CMO of Mozy, the world’s most trusted online backup provider, travelled to Ireland to talk about the launch of www.mozy.ie.

SiliconRepublic was there to capture the event on film.

Off with their heads!

Arguably, there is nothing more cathartic during the break-up process than cutting the heads of your former partner out of your photographs. According to research from Yahoo, 23 per cent of us systematically edit our exs out of our personal history books by slicing them out of our photo albums.

However, in the Web2.0 world in which we live, it’s more common to have digital snaps of our exs than prints.  And, hence, in the 21st Century, we’re more likely to be photoshopping our favourite film stars over the top of last year’s Mr Not-Quite Right than taking a pair of scissors to a 5×7 glossy.

Which is all well and good until you kiss and make up and have to explain why you went to your cousin’s wedding with someone carrying an Oscar.

That’s when good backup comes into its own.  With every saved version of your files from the last 30 days copied to the Cloud, it’s easy to roll back to an older version of a document that you’ve saved over.  So spur-of-the-moment decisions needn’t last a lifetime.

If only there were a Mozy equivalent for removing tattoos…



Step back in time

As Kylie once sang: “If you can’t find the music to get down and boogie, all you can do is step back in time.”

Now, Kylie might not be right about everything (see her previous dating history) but she may just have been able to predict the future of personal music management in her number four hit from 1990.

Today, many of us only keep our music in digital formats.  According to a recent survey, 51 per cent of young people in the UK have fewer than 100 CDs and only 15 per cent use their CD player daily.  Conversely, they had, on average 8,159 digital tracks, with 68 per cent using their computers to blast out the hits every day.

The upshot of this, is that our music is increasingly at risk.  If you lose your laptop, you lose your music collection.  Or, at least, that’s the case for almost two thirds of Brits who, despite storing music on their computers, never back up.  This research, from Mozy, also showed that 15 per cent of people had lost their music as a result of incidents such as lost or stolen laptops, hard drive crashes, viruses and accidental deletion.

Having a good backup strategy, to get back to our theme, means that, if you can’t find your music, you literally can step back in time and return to the last time you did.

Online backup will work in the background on your computer; logging, compressing and encrypting your music collection before shooting it up your broadband pipe to a data centre in the Cloud.  Which means, should you lose a track, you can simply download it again back to your PC.

A word of warning though, if you chose to wind your music collection back to other hits from 1990, you might want to avoid the summer months, where Partners in Kryme enjoyed a four week run at the top of the charts before being toppled by Bombalurina.

Top Tech Tips For Your Summer Holidays

If you’re counting down to your holiday, why not pass the time by checking off one of our “tech to-dos” each day this week.

Monday

Spend your holiday in the sun and not a hospital bed by making sure you’ve had all the right jabs.  You can check out the NHS website to find out which injections you need or download an app to your iPhone, like Healix to work it out for you.

Tuesday

Just because you’re away, doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye on your home. Whether you’re looking out for burglars or simply seeing what the neighbours are doing when they come round to water the plants, you can watch your home through your smartphone with apps from provdiers such as alarm.com, domus or Platinum.

Wednesday

Don’t lose track of your favourite shows whilst you’re away, even if you forgot to set the programmer before you leave.  Download an app like TV Plus or Tioti TV to simply schedule Sky+ recording remotely.

Thursday

Waste not, want not and visit LoveFoodHateWaste to download bespoke recipes to use up everything in your fridge before you go away.

Friday

Make sure you know whether to pack water wings or wellies by visiting the BBC weather site or downloading a free weather app like WeatherBug.

Saturday

Don’t forget your toothbrush, or anything else for that matter by getting organised and creating a spreadsheet of everything you need to take with you.  Failing that, let someone else get organised for you by downloading a packing app like PackingPro.

Sunday

Using your laptop as a DVD player on the plane may seem like a good idea when it keeps the kids quiet on your flight out but you won’t feel the same way if it gets stolen and you lose all the pictures, files and music on it.  Use an online backup service like Mozy to back up all your files before you go away and make sure you’re hardware is covered on your travel insurance, that way, whatever happens, you’re protected.

Footnote: Mozy has not tested, is not associated with, nor recommends any of the sites or services listed here, other than www.mozy.co.uk.  Readers should make their own assessment of any service before engaging with it.

Backup Rules!

If you thought protecting the Queen was all about Beefeaters and men in hairy hats, think again. Last year, it seems, the Queen was just as concerned with protecting her data as she was with protecting Her royal person. According to the Royal Public Finances Annual Report issued this week, Her Majesty recently invested in a real-time data backup solution for the palace.

Despite an image that some might consider stuffy, this shows the Queen ahead of the pack compared with just 14% per cent of people at large in the UK using an online solution to back up offsite, according to Mozy’s research.

So, if it’s good enough for the Queen, what are we all waiting for?

It’s like having a spare key

If you’ve ever lost your keys and not had a spare, you’ll know the pain of watching a locksmith drill your door. The joy of ending your three-hour wait for the guy to turn up is tempered by the realisation that he’s going to charge you a £200 call-out charge to wreck a £500 door. Then, if you’re lucky, he might recommend someone who can come round and replace it that day. If you’re unlucky, you’ll spend the night trying to sleep in an armchair wedged under the door handle and feeling the draft through the newly-drilled hole.

Sleep deprived, you’ll probably spend the wee small hours listing all the people whom you’re going to give spare keys to. In my case, two people were to receive the honour of being my backup plan: my downstairs neighbour and my dad.

Lesson one: a backup plan is what let’s you sleep at night

My downstairs neighbour gets one because he’s close to home, it’s easy to give him a key and get it back if I lose my own copy. If I lose my keys, I can get the spare in a few minutes. The only problem is, my neighbour is just as unreliable as I am – it’s one of the reasons we became friends. The last time I lost my key, he didn’t have the first clue where he’d put the spare – though the accuracy with which he could describe the keyring it was on was truly, though redundantly, impressive.

Lesson two: a local backup plan is convenient but you shouldn’t rely on it in isolation

My dad is the ultimate holder of my spare key. He worries even more than I do about me being locked out so he takes extra care of it. And, because he cares, I know that he’ll drive all night to get here and return my key to me if I really needed it. My dad is never going to lose that key because the things that cause me to lose my keys (often excessive consumption of beer, travelling too much or living in a neighbourhood where people are so light fingered they might as well have helium hands) just don’t apply to him.

Lesson three: a remote backup solution may take longer to get you back to normal but isn’t subject to the same dangers as local backup

You can apply the same three lessons to looking after the data on your computer. Losing data can be a painful and expensive experience, so everyone should have a backup plan to protect themselves. Local backup is simple and quick and allows you to restore lost data immediately if anything happens to your PC. However, if you’re only using a local backup solution, the burst water pipe that’s wrecked your laptop will probably have wrecked your external hard drive too, so it’s good for your backup plan to include a solution that stores your data differently and is in a different location to your computer. Secure, automatic, online data backup, in combination with local backup, is the best solution to let you sleep soundly at night, knowing your data is protected.

Too busy to back up

21st Century living is all about having it all – the power of Bluetooth headsets and broadband over WiFi means that it’s completely possible to arrange a doctors appointment whilst simultaneously whipping up a gourmet meal, baby sitting three kids and running a successful online business.

Well, it may be possible but, frankly, it’s exhausting. And, when we all have too much going on, the last thing we want is to add to our to-do list. So, it’s no surprise that being too busy ranked so high in the excuses given for not backing up in our survey.

But, would you be too busy to swap your clunky old laptop for a brand new Macbook?

We took to the streets of London to ask people if they had been too busy to back up or if their data was so well protected that they’d be willing to smash up their laptops in exchange for a shiny, top-of-the-range Mac.

When push comes to shove (and, by shove, we mean with a cracking great mallet), will anyone have backed up and protected their photos, music and irreplaceable files…?