Look both ways before backing up

Backing up used to be hard to do. But Symantec’s Norton line finally got it right with a program called Save and Restore.

Save and Restore automatically backs up your whole computer once a week and your My Documents folder every day. The backup can be to another hard drive, CD or DVD disks or tape. You can choose the times for these backups or let the program decide on its own.

When it comes time to restore a file or even the whole computer, it’s remarkably easy. We’ve been using Save and Restore to back up one of our computers to a Maxtor OneTouch external hard drive. When we can’t find something, we just open up and click on the missing item. All backups are encrypted for security, and a new backup is triggered whenever you install a new program.

If you also use Norton Internet Security, which is a fairly common anti-virus and firewall program, Save and Restore will immediately save your computer system to an external drive when it receives a notice on the Internet from Symantec about a new virus outbreak.

Save and Restore lists for US$70 from www.symantec.com, and that’s whether you buy it as a disk or a download. We found it for US$45 by doing a price search using BizRate.com.

Business Backups

For businesses that have many computers and a variety of operating systems, a better backup choice would be Retrospect Professional 7.5 from EMC (www.emcinsignia.com).

The program is installed on a Windows computer but can instantly back up files from other computers, no matter what operating system they are running, as long as they are all part of the network. Pricing for three computers starts at US$120 and goes up from there, depending on how many computers you want covered. Files for all the computers can be restored in a flash from one computer.

The Extended Cell-phone

Cell phone dead spots are a problem, whether at home or in a large office. So we’ve been trying out a system from Motorola that uses a wireless base station to clear out the cobwebs.

There are two essential components: the base station, which comes with a cordless handset, and a docking station for your cell phone. The cordless handset gives you another place to answer the cell phone that’s a lot more comfortable and has a speaker phone. It’s best to place the primary docking station in a spot that has always had good cell phone reception.

If you also have a land-line phone, the Motorola system can answer that phone as well as the cell phone, and the ring tones will be different for each. There are other features, like call waiting, an answering machine and a hands-free intercom. In the next few months there will be a VOIP version, which can be used for cell phone, land-line and Internet calling.

The Cordless Base Station SD4561 lists for US$80 from Motorola (www.motorola.com), but we found it for US$58 at Buy.com. Additional stations, each with its own handset, were also US$58. These can be very useful for stationing around the house or office. A dock for your cell phone lists for US$100, but we found it for US$72 at BizRate.com. So the two required pieces come to US$130, and additional units are up to you.

NOTE: We tried out the Motorola system, which requires one of two dozen Motorola cell phone models to work, but there are competing systems from RCA (www.rca.com) and Uniden (www.uniden.com). Prices are comparable.


Once again a reader’s question led us to rediscover what was already there in Windows. We knew about it, but kept forgetting; maybe you do, too.

The question was how to run an old Win 95 program on a new Windows XP system. The solution is to go to a Windows program called Help and Support. Click Start at the lower left of the Windows XP screen. Then click Help and Support in the window that comes up. You can then find the answer by clicking on “fixing a problem.” That will open a treasure trove of solutions, of which running Win 95 on XP is only one.

Another good question

A reader asked if a hacker could possibly watch his banking activity, even on a secure Web site and when he hadn’t downloaded anything.

The answer is yes, it’s possible. Protection should include a firewall, and hardware firewalls are safest. Our Linksys router has a built-in firewall, and so do most other makes. We also use Norton Internet Security, which has an additional firewall. Zone Alarm is another good software firewall. We have added Spy Sweeper from Webroot.com and Privacy Expert Suite from Acronis.com. This last program erases all Internet tracks. Finally, we use a really simple solution: We don’t do any online banking.


Visual Basic 2005 Express by Wallace Wang from No Starch Press (www.nostarch.com). The book comes with two CDs, containing Visual Basic Express for Windows, sample programs and instructional videos.

It’s not a book from last year that we just found; the title refers to the most recent version of Microsoft’s Visual Basic programming language. Visual Basic is easy to learn and nice for business and you too. People with no previous knowledge can create useful programs that even look good on the screen.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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