Wednesday, December 17, 2008

backups using MS synctoy

I have had a (fairly non strict i must admit) backup routine now for a couple of years - and thankfull I haven't had a hard drive fail (at home - plenty have at work) yet... Still, we must be careful and press on with making sure our data is not to be lost!

I have been looking for a nice backup utility, as havce used ntbackup till now, which does the job, but you have to do a normal backup, then incremental / differential etc which can be time and HDD space consuming.

Looking at various Sync software, I came across SyncToy v2.0 which really does a good job and gives you a lot of control of how to keep various folders / drives synched. You can add the sync job/s to a scheduled task, to ensure that your backup is up to date.

Hows that? Very nice indeed !

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Slow wireless connection

When we recently moved house, we got sky broadband mid, which was up to 8Mbps apparently.

My PC is in the next room from the router, so out came the old wireless card, but my connection wouldn't go past 2Mbps. On checking the speed with a LAN cable plugged in, we had 5-7Mbps depending on time of day, which is more like it.
What was keeping my wireless connection limited ? Well to be honest, not quite sure, but upon downloading and running the excellent TCP Optimizer the issue was completely solved!!
Problems like this, then definately try this utility.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

VirtualBox is impressive

That's it... After just 2 days using VirtualBox as my new VM platform, I am so impressed that I have uninstalled my MS VP2007 and will now be using Virtualbox permanently!

It is just soooo much faster - running 4 instances of Win Server2k3 no problem. Everything is much quicker.

A few things to note:

1. There is no drag and drop capability between the host and the VM, which I admit at first was a bit annoying... but it is easy to map a folder (eg your desktop) from the host to the VM. Hopefully this functionality will be included in future revisions as quite a number of comments on their forums show it is a desirable feature. Still, as I said, with the mapped folder its fine.

2. I have as previously posted, used the vboxmanage command line with clonevdi to clone my .vbi file about 5 times. I ran into problems joining these machines to the domain though, so I got the free utility newsid.exe from sysinternals, which generates a new SID for the machine (make sure you do this BEFORE you join the machine to the domain) and then everything works fine.

3. You have to power down the VM before changing any settings such as networking which I have to admit is pretty annoying. For my current set up though this isnt a problem as I have setup my subnets (the virtual networking capabilities are awesome and far outweigh the cons) so it doesn't bother me too much.

Right, back to it... I have my 70-299 to do!! Lets set up some SSL certificates!

Monday, December 8, 2008


There are 3 main offerings for free to enable you to use virtual machines on your box.

Microsoft's Virtual PC 2007, Sun's Virtualbox, and VMware's Virtual Server. I have up till now used Microsoft’s offering, which has got me through my 1st 3 MCSA exams nicely, allowing me to set up a virtual network of servers and XP boxes to go through all the practices on.

Just recently I am trying out the Virtualbox, due to a review I read in PC Pro. Virtual networking limitations and no usb support on Virtual PC 2007 are 2 reasons why I am interested in this.

Well, I have to say that I am well impressed thus far. Apart from being able to easily set up lots of subnets, and assign up to 4 network adapters to each Virtual box, there is USB support, the overall interface is nicer I think, and the amount of system resources seems to be a lot less.

I not have 3 Servers (Server 2003) on a subnet, and overall operation is noticeable faster than that of Virtual PC 2007.

Copying virtual machines on Virtual box took me a while and a bit of Googling to get the hang of, but I actually like it very much. There is a command line command set (vboxmanage) which has many helpful commands, one of which being ‘clonevdi’(.vdi being the file extension of a virtual machine for VirtualBox (Virtual DIsk no doubt). This allows you to clone hard drives for Virtualbox nicely.

Will post a more in depth review and tipset later...