Backup Software – Which software to use and how to use it

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In our last blog entry, we covered the different hardware options for backing up your important files. In this entry we will look at the different software options for backing up your data.

In most versions of Windows, Microsoft included a software backup solution for Windows users. Unfortunately, it was not included by default with Windows XP Home versions nor is it included in Home versions of Windows Vista nor Windows 7. However, you can download a free version of Microsoft Backup for both Windows Vista and Windows 7 but not for Windows XP. You can install the Windows XP version if you have the original Windows XP installation disk to get the Windows NT Backup install files.

The problem with Windows native backup solutions is that they are very simple and not very flexible. However, there is no need to despair or settle for a solution that doesn’t meet your needs. There are many software solutions that allow a full, flexible solution that are still simple to use but offer a robust backup that secures your data and will give you “peace of mind”.

Many security software companies also offer backup solutions as well as many companies  who specialize specifically in backup software. Norton and McAfee have both free standing backup software as well as backup software bundled into their security solutions. EMC and Acronis are two companies who specialize in backup software. While Carbonite has a backup solution that relies on a Cloud (online) backup solution but also allows you to make a local backup.

When choosing a backup solution, you need to decide the type of hardware that you want to use and if you desire a Cloud solution as well. You also need to determine how often you want your files to be backed up. Many solutions allow daily backups as well as hourly or even continuous backups. You also need to determine how much data that you need to backup as some Cloud solutions charge monthly by the amount of data that you store on their servers.

Now before you dismiss Cloud backup for security reasons, I will tell you that your data is encrypted by the software on your PC and won’t be decrypted until it is returned to you (either to your current PC or to a device of your choosing). You can and should also encrypt your data on any other backup device thay you are using just in case it falls into the hands of an unauthorized person. Most good backup software allows you to easily password protect your data at levels approved by the Department of Defense for data security.

So a few things to consider when selecting backup software would be:

1. Do you want continuous backup or hourly or daily?

2. Can you both backup and restore files easily?

3. Can you make a backup (image) of your entire hard drive?

4. Is a Cloud backup solution provided?

5. Are the advanced backup options available to suit your needs?

6. Can you restore your files to new hardware (a new PC or other device)?

7. Will the software automatically synchronize different versions of your files?

8. Can the files be restore to more complex disk configuration (RAID or Dynamic Disks)?

If you have a need or just want information about Backup Solutions, feel free to contact PCRx at (276) 322-1578 or e-mail at sales@pcrxsales.com.

Of course if you are in the Bluefield area, you can stop by our shop at 36811 Governor G.  C. Peery Hwy (U.S. 460) for a face-to-face chat and a cup of coffee.

Anti-virus, which one is right for you?

We are often asked “What is the best anti-virus program to use?”

The best way to answer this question is answer a question with a question and that is “What is the best anti-virus program for you?” Now we’re not trying to be difficult or a “smart ass”, but each computer user has a different set of needs when it comes to the level of complexness or usability. The plain fact is that everyone using a computer should be using some type of malware (viruses, spyware, etc.) protection. There is no computer, running any operating system, that is totally immune from malware. There are some advocates of their own favorite operating system who would like you to believe that their favorite is immune but they are wrong.

There are anti-virus programs that range from free to nearly a hundred dollars for a subscription. The higher priced programs generally have many more “bells and whistles” than the free programs and may cover multiple computers or be multi-year subscriptions. The additional “bells and whistles” may include a firewall (protects your computer from intrusion by people or software), computer tune-up software (runs on a regularly scheduled timetable to keep you computer running smoothly).

The free software generally keeps your computer free of malware but may need more care  to run properly, i.e., you may have to manually update the software or run scans. The paid software generally keeps the software updated and runs a scan of the entire computer on a schedule. There are several anti-virus programs that we like and “give” or sell to our clients. The free anti-virus that we like is Microsoft Security Essentials which is made by Microsoft and does a good job of detecting and removing malware. We also like Malwarebytes Anti-malware Free Version which we install strictly to use as a malware scanner to detect anything other anti-malware programs may miss. (Yes not every malware scanner detects all malware, because each scanner uses a different detection method and uses different malware definitions in determining what to remove.)

For protection for a fee anti-malware programs, we sell both Total Defense and Vipre brand anti-virus programs. We sell two different programs because we know our clients have different needs and both these software programs are “lightweight” and easy to use.

By “lightweight” we mean that it doesn’t use a lot of your computer’s resourses (memory & CPU) so they don’t significantly slow your computer down. We like Total Defense for small installations (1 or 2 computers) and Vipre for larger installations because it has a robust central console to manage all network computers from one place.

If after reading this blog entry you have any questions, feel free to call us at (376) 322-1578 or e-mail us at sales@pcrxsales.com or twg@pcrxsales.com.