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The Gathering => The Lounge => Topic started by: Peter Bentley 彭达理 on May 11, 2019, 12:30:22 pm

Title: Home computers
Post by: Peter Bentley 彭达理 on May 11, 2019, 12:30:22 pm
Hi All

This  is  nothing  about  SBs  but  rather  a  little   bit  of  advice for  us all

Last  year  I had a  catastrophic  hard  disc  crash  on my  trusty   top -of-the-range  Lenovo  (= IBM)  home  laptop 

It  was the  first  time  I ever experienced  a  HD  crash  in over  20 years,  and I always  had  heard that  the  "beauty"  of a  HD  crash   was that  data  could  be  recovered .

Alas  that was  not the  case    :(   

 My  HD  was  totally  and utterly   destroyed  because the  reading  head  had  mangled   and  scratched  the   disc.

I had  no  systematic  back-up  in place    so  after repairing the  lap top  it  took  weeks  of  work  to  get my data  bases  and  lost  photos  back together   again

I then  invested  in a  complete  new  laptop  with  huge  memory (1  TB)  and  a  2  TB  automatic  back up  system, all  of  which  cost me  about   US$3,000  including the work of the  IT  consultant  who helped  me  set  up  everything  (I  know   some  of you who are  IT - savvy will  say that's a  ridiculous  amount of  money,   but  the  consultant is  a  personal friend   and I've  no reason  to believe  he  short-changed  me )

I  then  vowed  never  to let    this  happen  again  so  my  precious new  lap  top  stays  permanently  at  home , cradled and  cuddled together  with its back-up  system

Then comes  the  question  of  how  to   do  stuff when  travelling  like  email and  youtube

I was  relying   before  on  an  ancient  ACER  Android   "ipad"  which  was  very  slow,  clumsy  and  inefficient    and I could  never  get it to  work  properly so  finally I went to the  computer  market  downstairs  from  where  I  live  and  went to my  favorite  dealer  and  said  "HELP !"

The  dealer  offered  the  latest  miniature  lap top  at the  ridiculously  low  price of  US$250  (actually  surely  not  THE  latest  model  so  it was  probably  last  year's  model  being  sold off  cheap )  which,  although  with  only a  65 GB  SSHD    does  everything  my    US$2,500  latest   X280 Lenovo  does  plus  touch  screen,  detachable   keyboard  - the  whole  works -  totally  amazing

And  although  I'm  certainly  not  a  computer  nerd  (several  notches  below  Joey's  abysmally  low  IT  standard,  which  is   surely  as  low   as it  gets *    ;D)   I  got it  working  in a  couple  of  hours 

And  at  US$250  (actually  HK$1,999)  it's a   throw-away

If  you  are  computer  savvy  you will  surely  say  "Peter  - you  are  years  behind  in time"  and that's  certainly   true  because  my  wife  can  do  pure magic  on her  Iphone  whereas  I  stubbornly   still use  my  stone-age  3G  Nokia  because  I refuse  to  be  dominated  by    THE  IPHONE  THING

But  anyway...  that's my few  cents  worth !



*(DISCLAIMER)  No  actual  Joey's  were  hurt  in composing this  email    :D :D :D :D :D :D

Title: Re: Home computers
Post by: Joey Silver / Si Zhouyi 義周司 on May 11, 2019, 04:54:25 pm

     In your reference to me, you were 100% accurate. I'm as far from IT savvy as one can get.

Title: Re: Home computers
Post by: Peter Bentley 彭达理 on May 11, 2019, 04:59:30 pm
Hi  Joey

Glad  you  you  took my  joke  in good  heart -  I was  actually  laughing  at  myself !

Hey  -  I  don't  even know how to use an  Iphone   !!!



Title: Re: Home computers
Post by: Jungle Jas on May 12, 2019, 02:18:19 am
Hi all, I don't even own a mobile phone, so what does that make me! Neanderthal  ::) Why would I want to keep in constant contact with people night and day. ??? ;D

Title: Re: Home computers
Post by: snuffmke on July 25, 2019, 11:46:18 pm
Hi Peter,

Only just now seeing this. Hopefully it can be of some help.

I've had some pretty close calls losing data in the past, so I'm pretty paranoid about backup and data security. I was a network administrator for an entire ad agency for many years, in charge of insuring that no one lost any of the important client files they were working on. I come by data backup paranoia pretty honestly I think. Those days are long past, but precious family photos and my PhD dissertation meant that I had to think seriously about how I would secure my own data...without the resources of an ad agency behind me.

A few important points you should know:

1. As you've seen, mechanical hard drives die and, contrary to what some people might think, SSDs die too. In fact, when an SSD dies in can be a lot worse than a mechanical HD because recovery because the data is more difficult to recover.

2. A drive (HD or SSD) connected to your laptop backing up your laptop files is great, but this is not a complete solution. What happens if both the laptop drive and the backup drive die? Answer: you're screwed. Solution: RAID. Your backup configuration should be two drives (HD or SSD) that are mirrored. They both have to be the same type and size. For example, two 1TB SSDs. If one drive dies, it can easily be rebuilt with the mirrored data on the other RAID drive. BTW, RAID stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. There are plenty of two drive RAID backup systems on the market. Drive backups should happen at least weekly. Nightly is better.

3. OK, now you have a RAID backup drive, what happens if your apartment/house burns down? Again, you're screwed. This happened to a colleague of mine. His apartment burned to the ground and all of his dissertation and its associated data went up with it. Pretty disastrous. This made me doubly paranoid during my PhD program. Solution: off-site storage. This can take two forms: cloud storage or physical offsite. I use a cloud storage service called Dropbox, though there are tons of others that work just as well. All of the key files I consider super important are synced to the cloud service. Whenever I make a change locally, the change is replicated on the cloud storage service immediately. All syncing is automatic. Physical off-site storage is the practice of physically taking a duplicate drive of data and storing it in another location. It's effectively the same result as cloud storage, just slower, less frequent, and a lot more annoying. Cloud storage is the way to go.

4. Having two laptops is a fine solution. It's actually what I do. I have a laptop at work and one at home. The data is always synced between them using the cloud service. The cloud service is crucial in a two computer setup. Strictly speaking, I have three computers that share data across my cloud services, my work laptop, my home laptop, and my home music studio computer. DO NOT do what my other colleague does and keep files stored on a USB thumb drive and plug it in to whatever computer you need to work on. This is a profoundly bad way of managing data. Those drives die, you can lose them, accidentally leave them at home when you need them, and so on. The best way to handle data sharing across devices is to use a cloud data sync service and select which files you want each computer to sync. For example, I don't need any of my academic work on my music computer, but I do want to backup my musical creations. So I tell dropbox to backup my music folder and also tell it that I don't need a copy of my academic work on the music computer. By default, Dropbox wants to share all data with all computers in your setup, but you don't have to do it that way if you don't want to.

I have drawn up a quick diagram that hopefully explains it. I'm a visual person, so these help me.

Is this all overkill? No. Once, you have it all up and running—which really isn't hard—the peace-of-mind is priceless. I never worry about data anymore. If I woke up one morning and one of my computer blew up overnight, I'd just go out and buy and new one and be up and running in a few hours. Installing my apps would be the longest part of the process.

Let me know if you have any questions. This stuff—along with web site and application design—used to be my bread-and-butter before I climbed the Ivory Tower. :)


PS: I should mention, my ACTUAL network backup system is more complex than this. I actually use a NAS (network attached storage) system instead of a physically connected backup drive. It's essentially a RIAD that sits on the network that can back up any computer on our home network. And there are lots of them, seven at last count...yikes

Title: Re: Home computers
Post by: Peter Bentley 彭达理 on July 26, 2019, 02:11:27 am
Hi Brian

Many thanks for your  very detailed  advice.  I need to  think  carefully  about  what  you  wrote

I do  in fact  have  what  I  think  you  mean  by a  mirrored   drive   (NAS) :  it's  a  box  with  2  x  2TB  discs  that  mirror  each other

The  problem is that  it  communicates   with my lap tops  via my  home  wifi,   and my  data base  in  800  GB,  so  a  back up  takes  days    ( !  )

I  suspect  that     using the  cloud  would   have the same  problem  be  the same  because   of  using  wifi  to  communicate .

Now I'm using a  2TB  WD-brand  Passport  for  back-up, which  is  connected    directly to my  main lap top    using a  high-speed  USB,    but  even  that  needs  3  -4  hours  for a back-up




Title: Re: Home computers
Post by: snuffmke on July 26, 2019, 09:07:53 am
Hi Peter,

800GB is certainly a lot of data. Does your NAS drive have an Ethernet port built in? If you plug your laptop directly into the ethernet port (or at least directly into the wi-fi router that the NAS is also plugged into) that would likely dramatically speed up the backup process. But it still won't be as fast as directly connected USB. Does your NAS use differential backups? Meaning it only backs up the files that change and only periodically does a full backup? That's the best was to handle things when you have huge amounts of data. That's how cloud backups work. First backup is interminable, but quick after that.

I actually use Dropbox for near-line data that I use all of the time and Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 for backing up the NAS drive that stores old files and all family photos. Of course, I have a fiber-optic connection to the internet, so things are pretty quick for me at 300mbps up and down.

BTW: You'll know if your NAS/RAID is mirrored if you look up the capacity of the volume and it says 1TB, but actually has 2 1TB drives. If it says 2TB, then your NAS is striped, which spreads the data across two drives to improved performance. This would be bad for you because there is no security is this setup. If you want better speed AND security, you need to have a RAID-5 setup with at least three drives. If one drive dies, then the RAID can be rebuilt from the other two.


Title: Re: Home computers
Post by: Peter Bentley 彭达理 on July 26, 2019, 06:09:26 pm
Hi  Brian  again

All great  advice  and  thks

The reason why the  NAS  is  (so far) not connected  by ethernet is that  it's too  big  for my tiny bedroom office, so it has  to  sit  in the  lounge  next to the  wifi  router.

I will  cal in my  computer  consultant to  read  all your  emails  and  then   ask for the best solution

The  nAS was bought  several years   ago  so  probably there  are  smaller  ones  on the market now



PS: I posted  off the   pamphlet  last week . Postage was  only US$3  so  forget  :-)

Title: Re: Home computers
Post by: snuffmke on July 26, 2019, 09:57:53 pm

Let me know what you end up doing. Hope I was able to help.