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Why to look for disc spanning when choosing your home/office backup software

by sergey.petrov In reply to SoftwareTalks

<p>This article was written to explain <strong><a href="http://www.backup-platinum.com">Backup Platinum</a></strong> users why disc spanning is the important feature to look for.</p>
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<p>Fifteen years ago, increasing numbers of people had computers, but their important data consisted of small documents and perhaps a few basic programs. To backup all they needed was several blank floppy discs and a compression utility. Even a <em>power user</em> might find themselves with two megabytes of data to preserve.</p>
<p>As we collect more and more important data, our backup needs are growing. Like in the past, we still have easily compressible documents, but bulky multimedia files as well, like videos, graphics and music. Doubtless this kind of data needs protection - the first pictures or a home video of a newborn baby might exist only as binary code on a hard drive. If your hard drive fails and there's no backup - unlike with traditional film - those digital memories could be lost forever. Nowdays it's common to find full system backups of hundreds of thousands files, ranging between 30 and 120 gigabytes (GB). The problem is where to store this data.</p>
<p>There are a number of <strong>media types</strong> available to most computer users for their backup purposes. Many businesses use magneto-optical or large-capacity tape drives for their daily and weekly backups. With very high capacities, these drives are technically impressive, but the media is usually very expensive. The common backup media for home and office includes CD/DVD discs, dedicated internal drives and external hard drives that exist in capacities over one terabyte (1TB) with fast Firewire 800 and USB 2.0 interfaces. Companies like Iomega found little home market success with smaller drives such as the Jaz (1-2GB) and Rev (35GB) series.</p>
<p>Where <strong>cost</strong> is a priority, a better option for home and small business users is often <strong>disc spanning</strong>, where cheap blank media can be used to the same effect as a tape or a dedicated drive. The benefits in cost of disc spanning are easily measurable. For a 20GB backup set the cost per gigabyte (CPG) will be as cheap as 33c for a DVD-RW disc, compared with up to $6 per gigabyte for an external hard drive of comparable size. Even for a larger backup of 250GB the optimal cost per gigabyte for external hard drive will be around 80 cents, still twice more than for a DVD-RW disc. A large internal drive can have a similar cost to a DVD-RW disc, but unless you make enough backup sets to fill it, your excess disk space is effectively wasted. In this sense, disc spanning is an attractive and economical option.</p>
<p><img alt="Cost per gigabyte for different types of media" src="http://www.softwaretalks.com/files/cpg.gif" /></p>
<p>This table summarizes the cost per gigabyte for different types of storage media and various backup sets.</p>
<p>Moreover, disc spanning is <strong>simple</strong>. All you need is to choose the files, obtain some blank discs, and a good backup program will inform you of the total size, and how many media units are required for backup. Since a CD/DVD writing drive became a part of a basic PC configuration, you don't need to fiddle around switching external devices, adding hard discs, installing drivers and playing other <em>hardware games</em>. The ability to store your backups on discs offsite is also a major advantage.</p>
<p>Not only is disc spanning a cheap, simple and flexible backup method, but it is also one of the most <strong>reliable</strong> backup forms today. Modern optical storage media has a shelf life of at least 30 years and some manufacturers even offer 100 year guarantees. Compared to an average lifespan of 5-7 years for hard drives and up to 20 years for a magnetic tape, optical discs are very long-lived. Disc spanning makes it possible that our backups will outlive ourselves.</p>
<p>Finally, this backup method continues to gain popularity as technology develops. Next-generation forms of blue-laser discs using organic dyes, such as the Sony Blu-ray format (between 23GB and 54GB) and Toshiba's HD-DVD, will further reduce the cost of removable media, meaning that inexpensive and simple backups are within the reach of everyone.</p>

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Carry your digital life on a keyring

by sergey.petrov In reply to SoftwareTalks

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Imagine carrying your favorite software, settings, profiles and data on a device that can fit your key chain. It is possible with portable software - computer programs that can be carried around with you on portable device and used on any Windows computer. When your flash drive, portable hard drive, iPod or other device is plugged in, you have access to your favorite software and personal data just as you would do on your own PC. You can work, play a game, message friends, send email, edit photos and more - all without worrying if applications are installed on the computer. Not all software can be portable. It needs to comply with the following requirements.<br><br>

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Copying such program to a different computer should not alter system registry of that computer or add any extra files to system folders. Moving the program from one folder to another neither make system unstable, nor render the program unable to run correctly. Moving all files and folders of the program to a different location should preserve your settings. Deleting the program folder guarantees that the program data will be completely removed.
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There are two major media types used for the portable software: ? portable hard drive device and a flash drive. The main advantage of a hard drive is its low cost per megabyte, so a portable 20 Gb hard drive can cost the same as 2Gb flash one. However, ? portable hard drive has moving parts, and a good bump or drop from a few feet can damage it. A flash drive uses flash memory, which means that information is stored in a memory circuit, and there are no moving parts in it. You can drop it and be sure it would be fine. Also it is usually much smaller than a hard drive. However, keep in mind that flash memory can sustain only a limited number of write and erase cycles before failure. Thus, an active everyday usage of the flash memory can result in a card lifetime of 1-2 years. If your flash drive is 1- or 2-years old, consider buying a new one. Also, there are some programs configured to place temporary or intermediate files in memory rather than store them temporarily on the flash drive, that reduce the flash memory usage.<br><br>

Recently a new type of flash drives appeared, that is specially designed for the portable software. They are coming preinstalled with the Launchpad which emulates the Windows OS start menu, and controls program installation and two partitions - one for the launch menu, and one for the programs and data. While such portable drive is highly attractive, one of the downsides of it is that most of the software for it is commercial. The best way to fill your portable drive with the best tools is to look for a portable versions of your favorite software. Everyone has its own tastes in making their collection. The following freeware tools are a pretty common choice.<br><br>

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<tr><td><font color="gray"><u><b>Launch your portable programs from a simple menu</b></u></font></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/pstart.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>PStart</b> is a simple tray tool to start user defined applications. Designed to run portable applications (like portable Firefox & Thunderbird), it can start anything runnable from USB key devices or removable disks: <a href="http://www.pegtop.net/start/">www.pegtop.net</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><font color="gray"><u><b>Protect information on your flash drive with encrypting tools</b></u></font></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/dekart.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Dekart Private Disk Light</b>. This free disk encryption software creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk. All data encryption is fast, automatic, on-the-fly and with no performance penalty: <a href="http://www.dekart.com/products/encryption/private_disk_light/">www.dekart.com</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/truecrypt.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>TrueCrypt</b>. You can create a virtual drive of any size you choose that contains all your private data and information. You can use it to encrypt your entire USB drive or only a segment of it if you prefer:<br><a href="http://www.truecrypt.org">www.truecrypt.org</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><font color="gray"><u><b>Carry your web browser with all your favorite bookmarks</b></u></font></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/opera.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Opera Portable</b> - Opera browser that has been repacked so that you can run Opera by just clicking, without the need of installation or administrator rights. With download size of about 3 MB, you get the same features of Opera compared to what you get in the installation version: <a href="http://www.kejut.com/operaportable">www.kejut.com/operaportable</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/firefox.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Portable Firefox</b> is the popular Mozilla Firefox web browser packaged with a PortableApps Launcher as a portable app, so you can take your bookmarks, extensions and saved passwords with you:<br><a href="http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/browsers/portable_firefox">www.portableapps.com/apps/internet/browsers/portable_firefox</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><font color="gray"><u><b>Carry your calendar with all your appointments</b></u></font></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/sunbird.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Portable Sunbird</b> is the handy Mozilla Sunbird calendar and task manager packaged as a portable app, so you can take your calendar and to do list with you:<br><a href="http://portableapps.com/apps/office/organization/portable_sunbird">www.portableapps.com/apps/office/organization/portable_sunbird</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/essentialpim.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Essential Pim</b> performs all your basic PIM needs: calendar, contact manager, etc. Conveniently, you can import your Outlook information, and it supports built-in encryption: <a href="http://www.essentialpim.com/">www.essentialpim.com</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><font color="gray"><u><b>Carry your email client with all your contacts and settings</b></u></font></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/thunderbird.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Mozilla Thunderbird Portable</b> is the popular Mozilla Thunderbird email client packaged as a portable app, so you can take your email, address book and account settings with you. You can also get it with GPG and Enigmail preconfigured to encrypt and sign your email: <a href="http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/email/portable_thunderbird">www.portableapps.com/apps/internet/email/portable_thunderbird</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/jbmail.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>JBMail</b> is a compact and portable secure e-mail client. The software has been designed for simplicity, security and ?on-line mailbox access? meaning that mail is manipulated remotely and NOT stored locally. JBMail supports POP3, SMTP, SSL/TLS and all essential mail client features: <a href="http://www.pc-tools.net/win32/jbmail/">www.pc-tools.net/win32/jbmail</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><font color="gray"><u><b>Carry your instant messenger and your buddy list</b></u></font></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/trillian.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Trillian</b> multi-protocol instant messaging client works with AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, ICQ and IRC: <a href="http://www.trilliananywhere.com">www.trilliananywhere.com</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/miranda.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Miranda IM</b> is a multi protocol instant messenger client for Windows. Miranda IM uses very little memory and is extremely fast. It supports ICQ, AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, IRC and more:<br><a href="http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/chat/portable_miranda">www.portableapps.com/apps/internet/chat/portable_miranda</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><font color="gray"><u><b>Carry your whole office suite along with your documents and presentations</b></u></font></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/abiword.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>AbiWord Portable</b>. AbiWord is a free word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a variety of word processing activities and has the ability to read and write a number of document types including Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, OpenOffice.org, RTF, HTML, Palm and more: <a href="http://portableapps.com/apps/office/word_processors/portable_abiword">www.portableapps.com/apps/office/word_processors/portable_abiword</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/openoffice.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Portable OpenOffice</b> is the complete OpenOffice.org office suite including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing package and database packaged as a portable app. the only downside is its size (86mb to download and 167mb to install):<br><a href="http://portableapps.com/apps/office/suites/portable_openoffice">www.portableapps.com/apps/office/suites/portable_openoffice</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><font color="gray"><u><b>Carry all your important passwords and account information securely</b></u></font></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/pins.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>PINs</b> is a free feature-rich Windows program for safe and comfortable storing of any secure information like passwords, accounts, PINs etc. PINs uses a secure 448 bit Blowfish algorithm to ensure the data are not crackable. The password used for securing access to stored data is not saved anywhere: <a href="http://www.mirekw.com/winfreeware/pins.html">www.mirekw.com</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/keepass.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>KeePass</b> is a free/open-source password manager or safe which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk. So you only have to remember one single master password or insert the key-disk to unlock the whole database:<br><a href="http://keepass.sourceforge.net">keepass.sourceforge.net</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><font color="gray"><u><b>Have utilities handy when visiting family or friends that are having PC problems</b></u></font></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/clamwin.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Portable ClamWin</b> is the popular ClamWin antivirus packaged as a portable app, so you can take your antivirus with you to scan files on the go. Portable ClamWin has scheduled scans and updates disabled as they are not used in a portable scenario:<br><a href="http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/antivirus/portable_clamwin">www.portableapps.com/apps/utilities/antivirus/portable_clamwin</a></td></tr>

<tr><td><img src="http://www.handyrecovery.com/articles/hr.gif" border="0" hspace="6" align="left"><b>Handy Recovery</b> is data recovery software designed to restore accidentally deleted files on hard and floppy drives with FAT12/16/32, NTFS and NTFS 5 file systems: <a href="http://www.handyrecovery.com/handyrecovery-fw.exe">www.handyrecovery.com</a></td></tr>
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And a useful piece of advice here: Always wait until the drive access light has stopped blinking and then click the icon in your system tray to 'Safely Remove' your device. Don't just remove it. When the portable software window is closed doesn?t mean the software has fully closed and finished writing to the disk. Back up your portable drive on a regular basis.
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