Resolving to Revisit the Fundamentals in 2017

Posted on December 24, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Hardware, Mobile, Music + Videos, Office, Windows 10 with 86 Comments

Resolving to Revisit the Fundamentals in 2017

New Years is still over a week away, and I have plenty of 2016 recap articles to write. But a typical tech screw-up this past weekend was a nice reminder that it’s time to revisit some fundamental and important topics in 2017. And among them is the need for a bulletproof PC backup strategy.

As always, there’s a story.

A week ago today, I blew away my NUC and reinstalled Windows 10 from scratch. In this particular case, I used Refresh This PC, an online tool you access from Settings, Update & Security, More recovery options. Why use that instead of the USB-based Setup media I always keep handy too? No particular reason: I try to keep up things, so I mix it up. Sometimes things change, and this is one way to find out.

I only had a few things to do to prepare for this procedure because I sync all my important documents and other data to the cloud—in my case OneDrive and Dropbox—and I try to make sure nothing is tied to a single PC.

But no one is perfect, and in my case, I use the desktop as a scratch space that holds that articles I’m currently working on, articles I’ve completed but not yet filed into OneDrive or Dropbox, and so on. In this particular instance, I had more files and folders on the desktop than usual because I had gone through all of the articles I wrote over the past year and created shells of “year in review” articles with links to the relevant source articles.

No problem: I know to backup, and I did so: I filed the completed stuff as usual and copied the remainder to Dropbox. A larger folder (like 35 GB large) of photos scans—as you may recall, I’ve spent much of this year scanning in old photos and destroying the originals, and many haven’t yet been filed to the cloud—was copied to my NAS, and to an external USB drive. I’ve been backing that thing up, and restoring it back to my desktop, each time I do a clean install like this.

Anyway, I reinstalled Windows and went through the usual process afterward of syncing Dropbox and OneDrive, installing the applications I use, and making a few configuration changes. And then it was back to work: The whole thing took just a few hours, and this is a nice reminder that Windows 10, despite so many complaints, is still a friendlier place than its predecessors.

Over the past week, one thing was really nagging at me: Photoshop Elements 15, which you’ll recall I purchased from the Windows Store for its liberal 10-PC install rights, simply would not install. The error number was 0x80072EFD.

So I just installed an old copy of Photoshop Elements 11 and got on with life. But then that 4K UHD display arrived, and I was reminded of the issue with older Photoshop Elements versions: They do not support display scaling. So installing version 15, suddenly, was basically a necessity. (That the first display I purchased didn’t work out is sort of beside the point, but long story short I still intend to figure out a good 4K display sometime soon.)

So I researched error 0x80072EFD, and I tried all of the suggestions I found in Microsoft’s own support forums and elsewhere on the web. Nothing worked. Eventually, I came across the suggestion to clean boot Windows 10 by turning on all the safe boot options in System Configuration (which we all think of as MSConfig because of its executable name) and by disabling everything that auto-started, via the Startup tab in Task Manager.

When I rebooted the PC, I saw something I’d not yet experienced, which is saying something when you consider the past 20+ years I’ve spent writing about and documenting how Windows works: There was no way to sign-in to the PC after you got past the lock screen. It was just a blank screen, with the lock screen background and the power, accessibility, and networking icons in the corner.

Ruh-roh.

I spent an ungodly amount of time Friday afternoon and early Friday evening trying to recover from this. Using various System Recovery drives, I tried virtually everything, from the basics—Startup repair, System Restore, and so on—to more advanced methods involving various command line tools. Eventually, it was time to leave, as my wife and I had plans last night.

This morning, I woke up, plugged that Windows 10 Setup drive into one of the NUC’s USB ports, and nuked the thing from orbit again. I updated Windows 10, synced Dropbox and OneDrive, installed the applications I use—including Photoshop Elements 15, which worked just fine because software is black magic and who knows why really—and made a few configuration changes. And the I started writing this.

But here’s the thing.

As always, I was using my desktop as a scratch space. I had all those end-of-year documents ready to roll, that giant folder of scanned photos, and more. But because I had copied most of that stuff back to my desktop before—and not moved it—after last week’s reinstall, it was all still there waiting for me, in Dropbox (the documents) and on my NAS (those photos scans).

Well, most of it. I did lose a few shell documents for posts I intended to write, but none of them had any content in them for the most part. So my losses were minimal.

That said, I’d like my losses to be non-existent. And in the sense that all processes like this are an exercise in always learning from your mistakes and not repeating past problems, I’m going to think about how I might avoid this issue going forward.

But I know from the email and comments I get about backup/restore and sync that many of you are almost certainly at risk. That you’re maybe using old-fashioned methods or, worse, not taking any steps at all to protect your important data. So in 2017, I’m going to start examining this and other fundamental topics again and update and replace what I’ve written before and, where needed, add to that work with new topics.

What I’m asking of you, I guess, are which fundamental persona technology topics like this are most important to you. I want to make sure that what gets written is useful to the widest range of people possible. You can think of these things, as I do at times, as New Year’s resolutions, though they don’t necessarily need to be tied to a date. They’re universal. And they need to be revisited from time-to-time.

Jerry Pournelle is one of my key influences, and he had a saying I always liked: “I make these mistakes so you don’t have to.” I can only aspire to such a state, and in my case, it really breaks down to “I make these mistakes because I’m a freaking idiot, but at the very least maybe you can learn from my mistakes and we’ll be both be better off for it.”

Happy Holidays, folks. There’s a lot to do, and a lot to write. But I think a few down days are probably in order first.

 

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Comments (86)

86 responses to “Resolving to Revisit the Fundamentals in 2017”

  1. Avatar

    584

    My favorite Pournelle-ism: Better is the enemy of good enough.

  2. Avatar

    124

    I have never gotten a handle on OneDrive and how it fits in with my hard drive, usb external drives. and usb jump drives.  I am interested in keeping personal stuff (banking and insurance and the like) off of the cloud but storing anything and everything else on OneDrive. What are good strategies for separating and tracking personal and non-personal data.

     

    Merry Christmas and a good break.

    Lew

    • Avatar

      856

      In reply to lwetzel:Second that - let's get a OneDrive for umortals tutproal please - or even tutorial
       

       

    • Avatar

      427

      In reply to lwetzel:
      One strategy people use for data they don't want in "the cloud" is to use an external usb hard drive and make a copy of your files there.  There are many programs that can be used to sync specific files or folders to another location (the attached usb drive in this case).  That makes one copy, but the next step that is typically suggested is to have another exteranl usb hard drive that you can swap out on some kind of schedule (monthly,weekly) and keep one at another physical location.  Some people keep them at a family member's house or a bank safety deposit box.   With this method you will have 3 copies of your data and one will always be offsite. This will protect you if just your PC goes bad or if your electricity fries both the PC and the back up hard drive, because that other one will be off-site.
      As far as OneDrive and Drop Box and things like that go they just sync one or more folders on your machine to OneDrive.com.   So if you have files in the folder that is synced then they will be backed up shortly when modification are made (assuming there is an internet connection).  I hope that is somewhat helpful.

       

    • Avatar

      367

      In reply to lwetzel:  I agree, I cannot figure OneDrive out. Yet, I continue to struggle through it everyday. It is so complicated. Paul, you need to write a separate OneDrive book!
       

       

       

  3. Avatar

    1080

    Contact management 

    My android phone is completely screwing with my outlook contacts. It also deletes new contacts after I add them for some reason.

    I need a better system for contact management for both personal and business.

     

    • Avatar

      115

      In reply to Finley:

      I agree. Contact management in my iPhone is also a mess. Would love some advise and guidance on how to better manage and clean it up.

      Merry Christmas!

    • Avatar

      1355

      In reply to Finley:  I can't vote this one up enough... Contact management is completely out of hand, and linking them on my phone really doesn't do a bit of good.
      Merry Christmas!

       

    • Avatar

      4836

      In reply to Finley:

      I use FastMail to store my personal contacts (and email and calendars), which I haven't had an issue with syncing that to my Android phone, iPhone, and iPad since setting it up a couple of years ago. I only store contacts there, and don't try to bring in a third leg (eg., then syncing FastMail to Gmail) as I've never been able to get multiple cloud providers to play nicely with each other. Things can get a bit screwy though when other apps try to sync their contact lists (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I'm looking at you). However, it's fairly straightforward to unify those.

      I store business contacts on our on-prem exchange server and sync those to my Android phone, which has generally worked well if I remember to add new contacts to the Exchange address book rather than the handset or Samsung one!

      In saying that, I don't have thousands of contacts like some people probably do. At that point any system is likely to break down and you really need to find a dedicated solution.

    • Avatar

      5544

      In reply to Finley:

      Agreed, this is a big concern for me as well.  I just can't make my Office365, Android, and Desktop Outlook contacts sync as I think they should, to say nothing of maintaining shared work contacts vs shared family contacts vs private personal contacts.  All across five "devices".  Android phone, Windows 10 laptop, Windows 7 desktop, Windows 10 Surface, and web.

    • Avatar

      5101

      In reply to Finley:

       

      Yes, this x1,000,000. I have the exact same problems: contacts disappear after adding, duplicate contacts I can't get rid of (unholy combination of Gmail + Outlook.com). It's a crapshoot any day whether or not I'll actually be able to find the person I'm looking for.

  4. Avatar

    6446

    A couple of weeks ago, I received in for repair a laptop that had been infected with Cerber 4/5 ransomware. $930 to get the decryption key and can't get in to the site to get the key. NO way was anyone going to pay that kind of money, but my customer did have a Windows Backup image from March of 2016. Used that and it worked, the customer was as happy as they could be under the circumstances, but I got concerned enough that I re-imaged all four of my systems that night with AOMEI Backupper to a secondary 2.2 TB drive on my server.

    What I'd like is a SATA power switch so I could turn off that backup drive unless I'm going to retrieve or image.

    Also, I'd like detection code in all cloud data storage clients to shut off the connection/ameliorate damage when ransomware or mass selective encryption with strange file extensions are detected occurring in the file system. It's like closing the blast doors when loss of cabin pressure is detected or setting Condition Zebra when General Quarters is called.

    • Avatar

      5234

      In reply to sgtaylor5:

      This is one of the reasons why Chromebooks are gaining in popularity.

    • Avatar

      507

      In reply to sgtaylor5:at

      I agree it would be nice to have OneDrive shut the door when ransomware is doing its dirty deeds, but that could be hard to do. Ransomware does not have to change the file extensions. What would be better is if the consumer OneDrive had the history services of OneDrive for Business. Ransomware makes an encrypted copy and deletes the original. Having history would allow you to delete the encrypted files and store the older, unencrypted ones from the historical copies.

      My friend and neighbour accidentally opened malware (Locky ransomware .zzzzz variant) a few weeks ago. His local files were synchronized to OneDrive as a back up. He was lucky he called me and once I realized what had happened we turned off his computer before all is files had been encrypted. He still lost a lot because OneDrive was furiously synchronizing files as the malware was furiously encrypting them.

  5. Avatar

    9532

    Hey Paul,

    I ran into this issue a few weeks ago when trying to troubleshoot an issue with a game causing a BSOD. I used msconfig to only start system services and after reboot was greeted with a lock screen without any way to login. After some frantic searching I cobbled together my own way to fix it:

    1. Boot from a recovery disc (I made one from my laptop running an older build of Windows 10)

    2. Use bcdedit in the command line to add Safe Mode to the boot menu

    After this, when I restarted my PC I was able to select a normal boot or safe mode. I went into Safe Mode and changed msconfig back to normal and everything was fine. Still haven't figured out how to play that game without a blue screen though...

  6. Avatar

    486

    Happy Holidays, Paul! What I'd love is a clear, simple way to explain to my non-techie aquaintances (my friends and family have my husband and me, so really just the people I care about but may not spend much time with) about MultiFactor Authentication. I understand how it works and when I need app passwords, but for the life of me I can't figure out how to make it clear for people for whom computers are somewhat mysterious.

  7. Avatar

    1561

    Like you, I tend to use the desktop is kind of a scratchpad for projects I'm working on. I like having everything within arm's reach, and some authoring programs I use just work better with local files than with cloud content. But what about mapping the Desktop system folder to a OneDrive location? That way you're working locally, but every change you make still gets backed up automatically.

    That said, I do enjoy reading articles about how you work. I've picked up a lot of good tips over the years that have really simplified and improved my workflow.

    The one thing I've been thinking about lately is Emerson's line, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." It's something I struggle with daily, this need for all of my solutions to match or work together in an often unnecessarily consistent way. It has actually prevented me from exploring new methodologies, because I'm waiting for something more integrated just over the horizon.

    A manager once told me that I do A+ work, but sometimes it's more important to just do B work and get on to the next thing.

    • Avatar

      165

      In reply to gregsedwards:

      I moved my Desktop to OneDrive, so it is always synced...

      Right click on desktop in This PC.

      Properties..

      Location..

      Move..

      navigate to your OneDrive....

       

      • Avatar

        1581

        In reply to RonH:

        Hi Ron, I think I tried this for my girlfriend's laptop, but it made desktop shortcuts act funny - if I recall correctly, files on the Desktop were fine but Shortcuts would only work on the PC on which they were created.

        Have you experienced this at all?

        • Avatar

          742

          In reply to DaveHelps:

          This probably depends on the types of shortcuts. There's regular shortcuts where you right click on them, choose Properties and the 'Target' field lists a path on your computer (such as C:\Windows\System32\Notepad.exe).

          However, I've also found a second type of shortcut where the 'Target' field is greyed out and just list the name of the application. I wonder if these are the shortcuts that only work on the computer they're created on? I THINK those shortcuts are linking to some type of GUID, which would make them specific to a PC.

  8. Avatar

    6358

    Honestly, as people have been saying, the solution is just to keep EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, important in your dropbox/onedrive. I don't see why you have to use your desktop as a scratchpad. You can use a folder within your dropbox/onedrive. Not only do you not lose any work, but you get other features, such as being able to roll back changes and protection against accidental deletion. Every change is synced, so there's no worry about losing work in-between backups either.

    • Avatar

      9542

      In reply to Athena:

      sorry, not a solution. First, these services aren't providing enough space for everything important. Second, they aren't cost effective. And third and most important - if they decide to change a rule for their service, you're scr**ed. For example, you spend 200$/€ for keeping everything in OneDrive, then they decrease their limit from 10TB to 1TB and you HAVE TO delete your data from the service. So you're 200$/€ lighter in your wallet, and it was all for nothing. It's ok if all you keep is 10GB of Word/Excel files, but for everything else (mostly for data heavy media like PERSONAL pictures, videos and music) - it's worthless. Too expensive, too unreliable. Oh, and you can't copy a topless picture from a summer vacation to OneDrive because you could get banned and all your files lost. Think about all of that (and more) next time you trust everything to a 3rd party service. Been there, not going back again!

  9. Avatar

    1753

    I backup with Carbonite, then everything is in OneDrive, so synced anyway, and on top of that, I regularly back up to my NAS.

  10. Avatar

    8840

    I recently began using a laptop as my primary computer. And like most modern laptops, it has a small hard drive (256 GB). So having a full copy of what is sync'd to OneDrive is no longer possible since OneDrive won't work on external hard disks (really, Microsoft?!). So I had to plan out a whole new backup and sync scheme that drastically minimizes OneDrive. I tried to research others' approaches, but couldn't find any posts or conversations on the subject.

    As Paul explores this topic, I hope he touches on this aspect of modern computing ... at least until 1 TB flash hard drives become more affordable. Thanks to Paul for writing about subjects that really matter as well as all the news.

  11. Avatar

    9516

    Hi Paul

    Merry Christmas! Glad you didn't lose it all. I use win 10 on a couple of machines at work and I use the MS backup tool for file recovery and it seems to work but is there something else I should run too for a whole drive backup like Super Duper I use on the Mac?

    -patrick 

    • Avatar

      9518

      In reply to Patrick_Dunn:

      FWIW, if the MS stuff works when you test restoration, & you don't want/need any other features, you're likely good to go. If you haven't tested restoration, realize that it may or may not work for you, so maybe in my humble opinion use something else as well until you find out.

      Personally I use Paragon or Macrium Reflect, depending on the device. For quite a while Macrium was the only solution I could count on to boot pure UEFI bios -- Paragon does it now too, but the actual backup/restore takes a few times longer than with Macrium. That said, I prefer using Paragon otherwise, which is in no small part due to my using it for about a decade now.

  12. Avatar

    2525

    I think a long-form article explaining the ins and outs of Windows Backup would be handy.  From how it identifies the USB media, to how you can tell it to exclude certain folders but otherwise have a complete system image.  Having an external USB drive that you occasionally connect as your last-resort system image backup is handy.  Put everything in the cloud and use this drive as your "my PC died and I don't want to reinstall Windows, somehow reactivate locked software, etc". 

    Thanks for a good year of articles - looking forward to the next ;)

  13. Avatar

    7501

    What i do is make sure to have separate partitions. Windows is on one partition and my data and everything else is on another partition. If I want to save something to the desktop, for instance stuff I am working on, I actually create a folder in say E:\data\ and then create a shortcut on my desktop to said folder. That way I can continue to save as normal in the desktop area so to speak, without actually saving there. Moreover, if Windows dies for whatever reason, all my data is still there. Just the Windows installation dies. 

  14. Avatar

    9461

    Huh, I just went through the same issue: a "clean boot" that leaves no way to login, forcing me to blow out Windows 10 from scratch. I'm still reinstalling everything. I suppose we should alert MS to this bug, because the clean boot instructions are part of almost every answer Microsoft gives to users.

  15. Avatar

    5553

    I thought it would end with...I bought a Mac.

  16. Avatar

    5767

    Very simple, just back up your important stuff to Dropbox and don't get involved with OneDrive at all.

  17. Avatar

    378

    Had something very similar happen. Lost my whole music library and had to re-rip them due to something dropbox related. I think I didn't give it enough time to sync the folder to the cloud before I nuked the PC but none of the folder was backed up so. This forever tainted my trust of cloud based services as a primary backup.Though I am looking at Amazon Glacier as a long term archive.

    Now I use Veeam Endpoint daily to officially backup, and the ever simple but useful Sync Toy to do on demand folder copies to my NAS.

  18. Avatar

    691

    Why wouldn't you just create a scratch pad folder on OneDrive instead of using your desktop. I'm really surprised you would only sync completed documents to the cloud.

  19. Avatar

    5482

    Hey Paul!

    I see lots of how too's on how to use different applications like OneDrive, OneNote and Wunderlist.  But I am more interested in a write-up for power users.  I find I gain more from articles that explain peoples process for using useful applications instead of another "this button does this" article.  That part isn't hard to learn.  Its when you start to have a mass of information in complex programs like Onedrive and Onenote that you have to figure out how to most efficiently share and categorize stuff.

    Not everyone's method will work for everyone else but seeing how other people handle lots of information can give me and others insight into how we can improve our own.  Your recent article "How I Use Microsoft OneNote" was a really good one that reaffirmed my own similar method for collecting information.  I would like to see more articles like that get into the detail about your own "best-practices" for using apps effectively. 

    Maybe it could also be part of an overview article that links to all the useful technology you use in your life to stay productive.

    For me, OneNote has been central to keeping track of my life, home ownership, bills and other monthly tasks.  I am looking at Wunderlist at the moment and seeing how I can incorporate it into my routine.  I will likely split them into daily tasks for Wunderlist and longer term goals and projects for OneNote. 

    One Pro-Tip I can give for fellow OneNote users.  Like you I have a monthly (instead of episode) templet I use for tasks. When done with that month I ad the date label at the end.  To keep notebooks from getting cluttered with too long of a history of pages I create a new "Archive-[same name]" notebook with the same directory of groups and move old sheets (usually anything more then 6 months) into it.  It keeps my main notebook free from too much clutter so I can focus on the current important stuff.  Meanwhile everything else is preserved in the easily accessible Archive if I need to find it.

  20. Avatar

    1775

    >...that [holds articles]...

    >...(like 35 GB large) of [photo] scans...

    >And [then] I started writing this.

    >...(those [photo] scans).

    >...methods[, or worse,] not taking...

    >...that [holds articles]...

    >...(like 35 GB large) of [photo] scans...

    >And [then] I started writing this.

    >...(those [photo] scans).

    >...methods[, or worse,] not taking...

  21. Avatar

    9716

    1.  Many people are concerned about the security of their data in the cloud.  Please publish information about the encryption tools that will work on almost any device and will encrypt/decrypt as the data goes to/from the cloud.

    2.  Please interview Google about their Project Fi:

         a.  Will Project Fi be opened to non-Google phones?

         b.  Is the Project Fi code Open Source so others could incorporate it in their phones?

         c.  Is there a snow ball's chance in hell that a Windows phone could be Project Fi supported?

         d.  Are there other features coming?

    I love your reporting and hope you will keep up the good work for a long time!!!

  22. Avatar

    2

    Thanks everyone. Using all these comments for a to-do list for early 2017.

  23. Avatar

    9658

    I have taken to many of the same things you do. I keep data off of the OS Drive*. Before I blow away my OS partition I like to use Disk2VHD on it and store it on my NAS. This way I can use Disk Manager to mount the VHD as a disk and pull over anything I missed. I keep enough storage that I really never have to delete anything and if I run out of space I just go buy a bit more.

     * I used to hack the OS to move my user profile to the "Data" volume keeping it off of the OS volume. Since I have moved my OS volume to a SSD, I have been reconsidering this approach, as it noticeably slows things down.  :(

    As for your desktop dilemma, create a folder in your Dropbox folder on your local drive "WiP" or such name, and create a shortcut to it on your desktop. This way you get the best of both worlds.

     

  24. Avatar

    4836

    Hi Paul,

    I'd love to see a write up on how you manage multiple computers, phones, and tablets: OS updates, software/ app patching/ updating, keeping files in sync across different devices, onsite and offsite backups, etc for the power user that doesn't want to go to each device and click, click, click to bring the OS and apps up-to-date, or waiting for files to slowly (thanks to a low bandwidth connection) sync between OneDrive/Dropbox to get them on the other devices.

    For me, Ninite Pro 25 helps and I'm sure there's a PS script to kick off OS updates across a network, but it still all seems very manual and using an MDM-type solution seems overkill for a household or SOHO.

  25. Avatar

    426

    Hey Paul, My family all uses OneDrive to store our photos, files, and everything else. Like many other folks below, I'd love more advice about how to mitigate overreliance on the cloud. Should all family members be using backup solutions at our house (a home server?) or multiple cloud solutions on every pc? Are there things I can do to ensure all data is protected?

    Best,

    Chaz

  26. Avatar

    7063

    My preference for backups is to first have a data drive (D:) separate from the OS and programs drive (C:). If you computer has enough expansion room then make the D drive a RAID 1 mirrored drive. I then move the location of the Desktop, Documents, Music, Video, Downloads, and all the others by simply changing the C to a D in the folder location properties. So that makes it easy to blow away the OS or replace the C: drive if necessary. However the synced folders from Google, Dropbox, and Microsoft I often leave on the C: drive since they generally have to be re-downloaded from the cloud server anyway after a reinstall.

    One thing to note with a D: drive setup is that you may need to change the properties of the user folder if you have multiple users on the computer and want to protect the data from others (like in a business setup). Normally "D:\Users\NAME\Documents" will be a generic folder that is accessible to any other user on the computer unless you change the permissions to match the "C:\Users\NAME\Documents" folder.

    Second in the backup strategy is to have a backup service like Crashplan (preferred) or Carbonite that backs up the entire computer rather than just the select folders from Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. Crashplan is interesting because it also lets you backup to another computer or a USB drive within the same app. Crashplan even has a family plan in case you have multiple desktops and laptops.

    Third I use a NAS (QNAP preference) to do a local backup of the entire computer.

    Finally, since the NAS is also a media server and has files not duplicated on any of the computers I also have a USB drive to backup the NAS from time to time. The NAS itself has cloud backup options too through Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, but so far I haven't made the move to that. If I do, I could probably drop the Crashplan option and just let the NAS backup everything before getting backed up itself.

    It is a lot of equipment to keep that much backup going, but I accumulated it over multiple years in the order listed above, not all at once.

     

  27. Avatar

    883

    Thanks for all you do for us. Any light you can shine on tools to replicate files to Amazon S3 will be greatly appreciated.

  28. Avatar

    214

    Jerry once told me his motto was: "Backup early and often."

    Considered emblazoning that right on the front of a computer I designed... instead we put a "copydisk" key on the keyboard...:-)

     

     

  29. Avatar

    1581

    I guess for me the basics are:

    - Compute: what PCs, laptops and tablets should we buy, really? Best for kids, best for school, best for work, best for play, best for grandma... And so on.

    - Storage: where should we save our files, photos, music and videos? I don't see backup as a discrete topic, it's more of a factor that plays into the storage story.

    - Networking: how do we make things talk to each other? How do I access my stuff from wherever I am?

    - Identity: Where do I store my passwords? How do I log in to things? What should I do to secure my accounts?

     

  30. Avatar

    268

    Hi Paul,

    So while it will be nice to see the articles you are talking about, what may be of more use - for example in the situation you hit - is how to recover from an incident like that without losing anything; even if you didn't save the files first.

    I'm pretty much an expert in this after years of working in IT with Windows, BitLocker, Windows PE, etc. In the case you hit where Windows wouldn't boot anymore (for example), a quick boot into Windows PE would enable you to do both of these things:

    1) Copy the files you needed to another location

    2) Mount the registry hive(s) you needed in order to fix the issue (and if you used MDOP's recovery tool perhaps automatically fix it although I usually  just do this stuff manually) and get Windows back to running order.

    Perhaps an expert's series on how stuff like this can be accomplished?

    • Avatar

      2

      In reply to JerryH:

      Yep.

      On a related note, I considered this for this particular episode and while I feel like I almost certainly could have recovered the files on the desktop, from a time/effort standpoint, I was OK with just blowing it away after trying a few of the obvious things. That said... Yes, worth looking into a disaster recovery steps kind of thing.

  31. Avatar

    9542

    I've been avoiding creating yet another account for yet another website after Thurrot's move to new design, third or fourth account just for Paul's websites. But this topic needs a comment, really does - so I broke.

    Anyway, what I want to say is that I really dislike the cloud-based backup strategies after a huge fail by Microsoft when they took back their promise of "unlimited" OneDrive. If I can't rely on THE MICROSOFT (my all-time favorite software company), then I can't rely on any other either. So after MS failed bigtime, I said I will never again base my data storage strategies on anything cloud related.

    As a quick recap I've spent some 200€ or a bit more on OneDrive, spent 3 months taking care about uploading EVERYTHING to OneDrive, just to have it all go down the toilette less than a year later. After MS took back their offer, and 1TB was not enough, I let that subscription expire, went back to backing up to external USB drive, and using good old Office 2003. Looking back, I could have bought either new Office suite (which I don't really need) or couple TB of external data storage... much wiser investment long term.

    So now, my backup strategy is having 6 physical drivea in my PC, no personal data is on system drive, the Libraries and personal Desktop/Pictures/Documents/Music are redirected to D:/E:/F: partitions, even Steam install folder is on a separate drive S:\ , etc. What's important (Documents, Pictures) is backed up by Windows to a separate internal drive. And from time to time I back it up manually to external USB drive(s) that are a kind of cold storage (to protect against stuff like encrypting viruses and power surges).

    But I'd still like to improve on the strategy. But I have new set of requirements:

    - cheap in a long-term way

    - no reliance to 3rd party service

    - FREEWARE software only, open source preffered, mostly to complement point about no 3rd party reliance

    - as automated as possible, as only automatic backup is good

    - multiple tier backup (multiple copies on different media, multiple means more than 2)

     

    What I really want is an offsite backup, like leaving a networked drive at a relatives, or a vacation home. But certainly not at a 3rd larty paying service.

    Try taking all this in consideration. Because really, after OneDrive promise broken, Apple iDrive leaking famos people's photos, Yahoo leaking passwords all the time, etc... I really gave up on using any of them as a primary storage or primary backup location.

    And as someone already commented, I also want as good password backup/keeping strategy as well. I too use KeePass as it again avoids 3rd party service (my storage, my passwords, no paying vs storing on their servers, giving someone my passwords, and paying them for it). I did make a huge exception purely because of ease of use...yes I allow Chrome (Google) to store my passwords (along with bookmarks and history). I can only hope they won't get hacked or that some Google employee won't abuse it. But otherwise, all my data is purely mine.

    P.S. I do use FREE OneDrive/Dropbox/Box/GDrive/etc, but just as a temporary sync location, nothing permanent, and nothing is ever just on those cloud services, always a copy on my HDDs.

  32. Avatar

    5108

    Sigh, just why in the world does MS stick with that OwefckdupXudumee error message stuff? Why not just say... um... yeah... Windows shit itself/you screwed up/it's our fault but it's really your fault/your pc/software is being dumb? Just saying.

    On the other hand, I've had to roll back a few Insider builds and I can say that I'm a lot more confident now that with any past Windows version. So far I ain't had to reinstall anything... which is a change from the past. Used everything since 98se,  EXCEPT ME, and there was always something(s) that needed to be reinstalled. So far 10 is solid as hell. 

     

  33. Avatar

    9518

    Purely FWIW, on the PCs [with plenty of disk space] I always have multiple copies of Windows installed. I usually only boot into a 2ndary copy to update that copy of Windows, & when I want to backup my primary copy or copies. Performing disk/partition image backups [& restoration] that way is faster, & the archives are normally smaller, plus I have something to use in case my main copy of Windows breaks. Backup archives are created on a 2ndary internal HDD, & alternately copied to NAS or one of my USB 3.0 drives -- if there's ransomware on the system that hasn't locked everything yet, the most I'll loose is the most recent backup.

    For devices without the disk space, e.g. tablet &/or NUC, I use bootable USB devices with backup software, storing the backups in multiple locations as above. For repairs & stuff I'd do in a 2ndary copy of Windows on the PCs, I use a bootable copy of 10 on a USB 3.0 device. [I boot to a WinPE .vhd in VBox, using dism to apply the Windows 10 image in a wim or esd to a new VHD, then transfer that to a USB device when or as needed.]

    Docs & images etc. I store on a separate partition, sync with other storage etc., not unlike what you do Paul. Why backup images rather than Refresh or Reinstall? I don't write about this stuff so I can be more pragmatic, & I've had enough flaky experiences with 10, like you did with the 1st refresh in your write-up, that I prefer to use something I know works, in this case the backed up copy of Windows, whenever possible.

    >>"But I know from the email and comments I get about backup/restore and sync that many of you are almost certainly at risk"

    Again just FWIW, the problems I've seen most often are people relying on untested methods, media, & hardware. Lots of different bios out there with lots of different hybrid modes along with plenty of unreliable storage solutions. Without a 2nd [or 3rd etc.] OS installed, will the device boot from whatever USB media -- many times it will not, even if that bootable media was created by/in Windows 10. I've seen the same from recovery partitions. And many USB storage devices will not maintain data integrity during sustained data transfer, e.g. restoring an image backup.

    >>"Happy Holidays, folks."

    Right back at ya!!!

    And if I don't get a chance to say it next week, thanks Paul very much for 2016.

  34. Avatar

    9517

    I too had some data loss recently.

    I was moving into a smaller space and sold my Windows 10 workstation that had Lightroom installed.
    At the time, I dumped (or thought I did) the RAW files to a USB drive, and pushed the developed stuff to One Drive.

    Some time after I wiped/sold that workstation, and was configuring Lightroom on my SP4, I couldn't find the RAW files for a trip I took to Dubai/Johannesburg earlier this year.  I totally forgot that I re-arranged Lightroom data utilizing Storage Spaces, and forgot to grab the most recent data.

    Since then, I swore that I'd look into automating the process to backup older stuff to OneDrive, but haven't gotten around to doing so.

    • Avatar

      1294

      In reply to originaltrini0:

      The main data folders are located at C:\Users\(User name), they're the desktop, documents, downloads, links, music, pictures and videos.

      What I do is that I have a second drive, so the first thing I do is move the location (Right click, Location, move) to the D:\ drive, in this way, no matter what I do to my C:\ drive, all my documents, music, videos are safe.

      Recently with the whole Onedrive / Groove integration, I also moved the Music folder to within the Ondrive folder D:\Onderive\Music so all my music automatically syncs up, same for documents, but I hardly ever copy anything that.  I've thinking about also moving the videos folder, just have as much automatically backed up as possible, but I don't want my account to get banned for having a ripped movie or something stupid.

  35. Avatar

    2073

    I think password management would be a good topic to cover (again). Since LastPass when free for cross device access I've setup my wife to use it for all her browsers and phone. Goodbye same password for ALL the accounts. 1Password is also another great solution. I personally use a KeePass file to store all my account credentials and then sync that between my computers & Android devices using SyncThing (open source P2P syncing, no cloud storage like OneDrive), but that isn't manageable for most people. In the IT department I work for at a university we're using a product called Team Password Manager to store credentials for AD service accounts, accounts to external services, product keys, etc. It offers security rights management so people can only see the passwords you want them to access (a 1st tier tech doesn't need to know the password to domain admin account).

     

    2-factor authentication is also a topic that needs to be covered. A lot of people don't understand what it is or why they should turn it on for their accounts.

     

  36. Avatar

    5508

    Classic Jerry. I miss the old Byte.

     

    Are you not using File History on a USB drive for local temporary folders/files?

  37. Avatar

    4799

    It would be cool if Microsoft would take a page from Apple and include the desktop in their OneDrive storage.

    • Avatar

      6446

      In reply to s0569k:

      Right now, I'm using MEGA and I can set up folders in MEGA any way I want, then selective sync any arbitrary folder in the cloud to any arbitrary folder in my user folder. I have MEGA setup to sync another way on another computer because its function is different. Most pleased.

  38. Avatar

    7891

    In reply to Paul Thurrott:

    I redirect all my user folders to OneDrive sub-folders: Desktop, Documents, Pictures and so on. Then when I do a fresh install, step number one is to enable OneDrive, step number two is to redirect again after allowing OneDrive to sync, or at least sync folder structure. Has the added benefit of keeping all my user folders in sync.

  39. Avatar

    7510

    Is it enough to have everything on your laptop backed up to an external hard drive? (Obviously if you're diligent in actually doing the manual copy-pasting on a frequent basis.) Is there a need to back up to a second external HDD? I mean, do you need to worry about your computer and external drive dying together at the very same time?

    BTW on the topic of backup, one of the first things I do when installing Office is open the "Save" options and change the AutoRecover default to save more frequently, e.g., every 2 minutes for Word. (I think the default is closer to 10 minutes and I've learnt the hard way that keeping the default is just asking to lose your work!)

    • Avatar

      2

      In reply to Informed:

      So, no. :) A backup strategy should solve two problems: Redundancy of data and geographic disparity. That latter bit can be the cloud, but it could be a second HDD you bring to a different location (bank, your parent's house, whatever) so that it survives a disaster (fire, theft) at your home.

      I'll be revisiting this soon, but...

      https://www.thurrott.com/windows/1782/thinking-about-pc-backup-strategies

  40. Avatar

    8615

    You could probably use something like CrashPlan which does continuous backups.

  41. Avatar

    9522

    Wow,  your desktop contents? 

    Yes,  I use mine as a scratch pad too,  but for as long as I can remember I've been changing the folder location - initially to a separate partition to survive reinstalls (oh,  the good old days when Windows <8.1 would let you put your user profile on D:). 

    Now it points to a folder in the syncing service of my choice -  e.g. You'd have the desktop-nuc01 folder in One drive,  problem solved. 

  42. Avatar

    7691

    Paul,

    Here's an idea: Electronics, computers and software that work best in everyday life.  In this digital world I'm always wondering where to spend my time and money. What products and services really work as advertised and which ones provide the most real world benefit?  

    With so much out there, I'd really appreciate some help sorting through the noise. 

    Merry Christmas,

    Ken

  43. Avatar

    4796

    Why not put the desktop in OneDrive? It can be relocated the same way Documents (folder) can. In fact I have each of my Desktops synced, but as different names (Desktop-PC, Desktop-Surface) but you could have a single Desktop mirrored across devices if you wish. My workplace stores the desktop on the network server for multi-PC syncing, and that's where I got the idea from. 

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