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Posts Tagged ‘overwrite’

Microsoft’s SyncToy Keeps Data Safe and Handy

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Do you have a need to frequently access folders and files on a laptop or other computer that is not turned on 24/7? If this is you, you’ll know that you usually have to turn on the laptop and wait for it to boot to a state that allows you to access the data. This could be as quick as two minutes or as long as 10 minutes, depending on the age of your hardware. Even worse, if your battery is low and no ac power is available to plug in the laptop you may have to wait even longer.

You don’t have to wait anymore, there is a solution to your data accessibility problems! You can copy those folders and files to a usb memory stick and, not only will you be able to access to the data from another computer, you will also have a “live” backup just in case something ever happens. On a small memory stick with a small amount of data it is possible to perform the data copy operations and keep the data synchronized manually. As your data grows however, the process will eventually become difficult to manage in an effective way. Just the need to answer “Yes” or “No” to every overwrite dialog could make a regular copy operation turn into a nightmare.

Fortunately, Microsoft provides a free tools called SyncToy which will help minimize the time it takes to keep files in sync between folder pairs on your laptop and thumb drive. Download SyncToy here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15155

You will need the proper download based on your existing operating system, your choices are x64 or x32 bit versions. To find out what version you need, click Start, right click on the computer icon, and select Properties. Half way down the page you’ll see the “System” Header, now find “System Type” and look to see if your system requires 32-bit or 64-bit software. Download and install SyncToy then run it, which will bring up the following screen:

SyncToy's opening screen

To begin, you need to create a folder pair. This pair is how SyncToy manages keeping your files syncronized between the left and right folders. When you click on the Create Folder Pair button you start the process of joining the folder pairs. It is easiest if you browse to the location for each pair:

Starting a folder pair

For this example we will use a “Test” folder with the “left” folder on the local hard drive and the “right” folder on a thumb drive. If a folder does not exist on the right folder destination, SyncToy allows you to create the folder as needed. Once you have folders set, you will be given a choice to Synchronize, Echo, or Contribute. For most applications you should Synchronize. You should carfully consider each option to get the best result. Here are the definitions of the options.

Synchronize: New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes on either side are repeated on the other.

Echo: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.

Contribute: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are repeated on the right. No deletions.

Choose your Sync

Now name your pair. This should be a simple name, yet descriptive of the pair.

Name your pair

That is all there is to creating folder pairs:

The First Pair

The simpler you keep your pairs, the easier it will be to maintain them. Now you simply need to run the pair(s) as needed, or put them on a schedule, but that is a topic for a future blog post.

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Destroy a Hard Drive – the Cheap and Easy Method

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

A hard drive is a small box inside of computer equipment that may contain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card information, social security numbers, etc. If you are upgrading to a new computer (desktop computer, laptop, office copier, etc.) always remove and destroy the hard drive before selling, donating, or recycling any computer equipment! Failure to destroy the hard drive before giving the computer away could result in sensitive information ending up in the hands of the new owner, who will then be able to copy old files and go through your personal information stored there.

There are many options available if you are looking to dispose of an old hard drive. Some professional destruction methods include:

  • Shredding it using a local shredding company
  • Taking it to a computer recycling company
  • Mailing it to a hard drive destruction specialist
  • Bringing it in to a local computer shop that will dispose of it

These methods are ideal, but they usually cost money. Professional destruction of a hard drive could cost $70 or more in some areas! So what is a low cost method to dispose of the hard drive and keep your personal data safe if you are low on funds? Considering you have all the right tools, this method won’t cost you a dime and is a very secure way to get rid of a hard drive while keeping your data secure.

Step 1: Wipe it! Wiping a hard drive in essence destroys the data by writing over it with random characters. There are many free utilities to help, a good one is Active@ KillDisk. You can download the free utility from their website, click: Active@ KillDisk. This free software overwrites all of the data on your old hard drive with random characters and WILL DESTROY ALL OF YOUR DATA! Be sure you have performed a complete backup and have transferred the data from your old hard drive to your new system before wiping it.

Step 2: Remove it! Physically remove the hard drive from the system. This is usually the easy part, you’ll just need a screwdriver and a little patience. Keep in mind that you will still be able to sell or donate the old computer without a hard drive missing, just be sure to let the new owners know in advance that they will need a new hard drive and operating system.

Step 3: Drill it! If you plan on using the old hard drive again, skip this step. Otherwise it’s best to physically destroy the old hard drive just to be 100% certain that the old data is completely destroyed. This step is not only fun, depending on how much personal data you had on the old drive it can also help you sleep better at night.

Wearing protective goggles, gloves, and a dust mask for your mouth and nose take a drill and a metal drill bit to the drive. You’ll want to drill through the drive completely from one side to the other, and you’ll want to do this multiple times. Two important areas for you to drill through are the platters and the controller board. See examples in the below images.

All done!


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