Backups

Lack of backup is one of the greatest cause of despair I have to deal with in my clients. So many don’t, backup that is, or if they do, it is often inadequate and not everything they want recovered after a disaster. The most common problem requiring a backup is a hard disk failure but other security issues are more ane more frequent. What can actually happen if you have a security issue and how can it be avoided? For most computers; an up-to-date virus checker and maintained firewall will prevent security problems.  So, before that hard disk failure (or stolen computer for that matter) what precautions can you take? For personal documents and photos held on your machine? Back them up in at least two different USB thumb drives or SD cards weekly and monthly. Don’t backup your whole system, just keep all  important files in My Documents and back just that folder up.

It’s not really worth doing a full backup of all your computer since applications will need to be reinstalled anyway. If you make sure that important stuff is in ‘My Documents’ (this might include your mail files if, say, you use Outlook on your computer rather than over the web) then if your hard disk fails or gets corrupted, you can restore to a new computer, replacement hard disk or overwrite the damaged files. This can be time-consuming but restoring is usually quicker and more likely to be successful than repairing. I recently spent 20 hours rebuilding a client’s massive archive of outlook emails. This required a specialist repair tool as well – but had they taken backups, all could have been resolved in minutes.

What should I backup onto? USB sticks come in affordable sizes up to 500gb (or more but not really affordable yet) but better value is a USB hard disk. Amazon have plenty but I’d recommend one that is powered from the usb slot (its less clutter) rather than a separate power supply, at least 500gb and with backup software to run it in the background. Search for thise in Amazon (.fr understands English) Look for USB3 if you have it on your computer faster (if you do have it) and  compatible with standard usb2.

I personally use dropbox for all my current photos so they copy to the “cloud” (on some machine or machines somewhere on the internet);  the remainder of My Documents I periodically copy changes to an external USB3 drive. All my work related files (web sites and email) are already in the “cloud” but I also back those up and copy them onto my external drive in case the companies that own the servers on which I store my web sites goes bust, gets nuked or some less unlikely disaster. Every few months I copy the entire changed contents of the external drive to another external drive. Belt and braces! By the way “SyncToy” is a great utility to speed up the backup process, it can handle just the changed files. I might do a review sometime but in the meantime google it and try it out for yourself.

Le Moulin de Chez Brandy – Gîtes in Limousin, France

I had already met Margaret and Stephen at their home (Chez Brandy) when I did some work on their computer network earlier in the year. They already had a web site, built and hosted on Webs. I am fairly safe mentioning a possible competitor since, this being the second Webs site I have replaced, I can safely say they are no competition.  It was ok as far as it went but it looked dated and did not respond well to being viewed on mobile phones and functionally it could only do so much. Some time soon I will write a full blog post about why I use wordpress but not today.

Anyway Chez Brandy needed to renew their domain and a thoroughly refresh their web site. The actual Webs site was attrative enough and I was happy to be inspired by it. We discussed some ideas and Stephen sent me the original photographs and transferred a lot of the content from the existing site. Adding slideshows and galleries as well as more dynamic links between the pages made for a better user experience.

The addition of more solid search engine optimisation and a google map makes for a better search presence. Refining the google calendar too allowed for each of the two gîtes to have their availability clearly displayed. A simple click on the calendar takes Margaret or Stephen to their own google calendar login for easy updating. The design is totally responsive – shoing as attractively on smart phones, tablets and PCs. They now have a logo too designed together an nicely identifying their lovely gîtes to the holidaying public.

As time goes on, there will be more photos which can be easily added just by emailing them to me as attachments to be optimised and uploaded by me that same day.  The same goes for any special offers or tweaks to the existing content.

Together with the site visit reports they get each week, Margaret and Stephen are very happy with their new beautiful web site. They found the whole development experience easy and trouble free, any problems or questions were handled deftly and almost immediately.

Hello World

So this is my launch blog entry for my new site. Admittedly the new site has been on-line for a while since I had had business cards printed showing it, but it was still being finalised.

I will be blogging about my projects new and old as well as tips, tricks and opinions about computer stuff that might interest my clients. I will also be recycling the blog entries from patbell.co.uk. It is my clients who are the main focus though my friends (some of whom might also be clients) might also be interested. The main purpose however is search engine optimisation (SEO) or “google juice”. It is difficult if not impossible to spoof google searches now; no more stacking the same keywords in everywhere nook and cranny. Now, time to first load, no untrusive popups, social links and links back are the focus. Though as I read recently the main thing is “to write good $hit”, yes, for the most part content is king. One problem with business sites like mine is that most of the detail is static, and google doesn’t like static sites, it likes “fresh and regular”. No thats not an advert for dietary fibre it just means that I will be posting weekly on Wednesday at 2.30 GMT.

I will be telling the story of my projects, talking about Security, backups, passwords, SEO, my workflow, my work choices, some Windows how to’s, some cautionary tales and even perhaps some aspects of life in rural France (though my personal blog is probably a better place if you want some of that). This blog will be information and opinion in equal measure. A mix of helpful tips and opinions as well as topical subjects. To save space I won’t explain every technical term, google will usually help. But if you want me to answer a question or cover a particular topic do not hesitate to comment or email [email protected]