December is our usual Gadgets evening. Please bring along any new gadgets or toys you wish to demonstrate, they don't have to be computer related and can be anything from new kitchen gadgets to computer games.
As this is a relaxed evening near Christmas, feel free to bring any light refreshments for us to consume while chatting. I shall bring some Doritos and dips, and some mince pies (Gareth.)
Peter thinks he hasn't got any gadgets which you haven't already seen...but you never know.
At our last meeting we looked at the various ways in which we back up our computers. Everyone should backup of course! But how many do? This evening was a chance for everyone to share their backup methods with us all.
Peter began the evening with an overview of his views on backups and his current backup methods.
There is a clear distinction between frequency and the type of data. Applications are often quite static, whereas personal files may be changing quite frequently.
There are many files on our systems, which in some ways have differing value when it comes to backups. Our operating system can typically be reinstalled providing we have the original media, although a certain level of patching and updates will be required. There are some files that are simply irreplaceable, for example Wedding photos and these need protecting as far as we possibly can. For this reason some form of data separation is advisable.
It is probably a sensible idea to separate applications and data as it can ease both navigation of the filesystem in everyday working and aid our backup strategy. This can be either on a single filesystem, e.g. "My Documents" on Windows, or perhaps even a separate disk partition or physical disk. We can keep separate copies of important files to mitigate against accidental deletions, or even on a second disk for some protection against disk failure. It can be helpful to keep similar types of file in their own directory, e.g. pictures, or "ICENI".
If using disk images to take backups of an entire drive, these can be stored on another medium, be that backups to DVDs, or a portable hard drive.
Some people use RAID - Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks on their systems, both to speed up performance (striping of data) and to protect from data loss with disk failure (mirroring). This is good for building in some protection against physical disk failure, or for high performance e.g. video editing, but is no excuse for good backups!!
You can perform backups manually, but there are many software applications available for backing up. These can make the task less onerous, which in turn may encourage you to keep up that backup regime and hopefully not lose any data.
RISCOS - Peter currently uses an external DataStore drive with no special software to backup the RISCPC.
Windows - Peter uses Genie Backup Manager and the BT Digital Vault
That was the end of Peter's presentation. We then looked at the software in action: Genie Backup Manager from Genie Soft.
The Backup Manager software allows you to backup your Windows PC in a number of ways. You can backup certain specified folders, e.g. "My Documents" which would backup all subfolders within your document structure. These backups can be set to run at a regular time period (with reminders if backups have been missed), and can be to either DVDs or external hard drives.
The software also caters for Disk Images, it can create an image of the entire hard drive, including C: while the system is running. In built code manages the issues of open files to allow backups while you are working on the system. These disk images can also be encrypted for additional security.
Peter initially had some issues with the software reporting errors on backup to DVD which he had to resolve with the author. This has now been resolved, in that the software must write all the DVDs required, and then verify the integrity of backups from the last disc back to the first.
The software allows you to restore files from backups, presumably either individual files / folders from both file based backups and disk images, although we didn't demo this on the night. You can also use the software to create Disaster Recovery disks, which can restore the system in the event if becomes unbootable.
Frank next introduced us to his methods of backing up data, both on RISCOS and Windows.
On RISCOS Frank uses !7backup and !7bupstats, both of which are written by Stuart Revill. !7backup is a command line tool for creating backups of given directories which can then be archived to other media, including over the LAN to ShareFS remote drives, or via LanMan98 to a Windows system.
Frank has tried other software over the years, but found a tendency for other software to fail when dealing with archives / ZIPs requiring user interaction.
!7backup copes and re-stamps the date/time of the new files to enable comparison on future backups, so only updated files need copying. Using the '-w' flag it is possible to automatically delete orphans, that is files contained in the backup location that no longer exist on the system.
By creating Obey files it is possible to set backups to run from !Alarm or !Organizer.
Currently !7backup is very slow when running under Virtual-RPC. The exact cause of this is not yet known but hopefully being worked upon. However Frank does use it much more quickly on his Iyonix and RiscPC.
The Virtual Acorn HostFS drive can however be backed up very quickly using just Windows tools, as the HostFS filesystem represents the files as normal files in Windows together with their RISCOS filetypes.
On Windows, Frank uses Acronis True Image Home. This contains a number of Wizards, to assist you in creating backup regimes and restoring etc. Frank is not normally a fan of wizards, but finds this works well in Acronis. Similarly to other backup software Acronis can be used to create disk images both of disk partitions, and the live running system to both the hard disk, or to external drives. Frank uses an external USB hard drive for this purpose.
Backups can be incremental or differential. Incremental backups save only the changes from the previous backup each time, whereas differential saves the changes since the original full backup each time, meaning you don't have to load each stage of incremental backup to get back to the original system state.
Gareth briefly mentioned 2 methods he uses to backup files. On the Mac he uses Time Machine. This is built into the OS and performs automatic incremental backup of the whole system to an external drive. Files can be recovered at any time via the GUI, and the system can be fully restored from such a backup although there has never been the need to try this yet... the point at which backups can suddenly cease to be useful!
On UNIX/Linux systems he uses RSync. This is a powerful command line tool that can be used to perform complex backups either on the local filesystem, to a remote RSync server, or even over tunnelled connections e.g. via SSH Secure Shell. This is also available on the Mac, and indeed is used as another means of keeping Documents and Pictures safe!
To round off the evening Peter showed us his newly acquired Iyonix. This has recently been saved from an online reseller with no experience of RISCOS having been rescued from a school. CJE are believed to have acquired most of the other systems, so it is good to know they haven't ended up in a skip. A number of the lockdowns used in the school are still in place which is causing issues for Peter getting it up and running. The system does appear to run well apart from this however, so hopefully it can be restored to a clean !Boot and we hope to see it fully operational in the future.
I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas if I don't see you before then. I am still sorting out the Iyonix after getting a recovery disk from Castle (JB) now have a working system but am trying to get various other bits of software running as and when I get time.
If you have any ideas for future meetings please let us know, especially if you would like to present one! The committee will be meeting soon to plan next year's events including the dinner.
We have had a committee meeting this month to revise our programme. Some of the topics below may change .
|Gadgets and Party evening
|January 23rd (Provisional)
|Social evening (Venue to be decided)
Talks with Visiting speakers are shown in Red. We will give more details as soon as they are confirmed.
Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website. http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com
The first visit is free and subsequent visits for non - members is £2·50. The membership fee is £20 due from the AGM date in April, but may be reduced for those joining late in the year.
Continuing our publicity for EAUG events - please see their Website for details of their next meeting.
Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month
opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.
For directions see below (note the new web addresses)
http://www.eaug.org.uk or 'phone one of the contacts on http://www.eaug.org.uk/ppl.htm
For information on this group we have added a link here
"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."
P.S. My insurance company have added my computer cover away from home with no extra premium required, yours might do the same.(Ed.)
If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.
I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.
Our website URL is
http://icenicomputerclub.users.btopenworld.com as a virtual domain,
it can also be reached using http://www.btinternet.com/~icenicomputerclub
Email to: email@example.com