Security and back-up
Q. I have just finished reading your most recent column regarding online data storage.
I started using BT Datasure about a year ago and it ticks all the right boxes. It is cheap and reliable and BT are not likely to go under.
I have in my mind that you are resident in the US in which case that may explain why you do not really address services which are available in the UK despite the fact that you are writing for a UK audience.
I enjoy the articles but they are usually a month or two behind what is happening, any chance of giving us an edge on what we should be doing?
It is quite helpful for you to go over the basics as it gives us a chance to see if we have missed anything.
A. Actually the only reason I didn’t include BT Datasure is that is a repackaged version of a US service - Iron Mountain’s standard Connected Data Protector service (http://services.connected.com/usdt/plans.asp). BT refers to Datasure as “powered by Connected” – and it has been around for a while.
I agreed that it is an excellent service that addresses all the main requirements and has BT standing behind it, however it is somewhat pricier than most of the services I focused on – the standard per monthly charge you mention covers only 500Mb of storage while most of the services I identified provide at least 25Gb for the same price or less and some offer at least 500Mb (even unlimited storage) for free.
That said, Datasure is straightforward and simple to use, and as you note, is likely to be around for a while!
Despite being based in New York, I do try and stay ahead of technology trends in the column and actually the complaint I hear more often is that some of the products I write about are not yet available in the UK and Europe more generally – the big exception is GSM-based mobile phones that tend to appear in Europe first.
Since I try to do hands on reviews, I often have to wait for new products to be sent to me for review and I also try and do comparative roundups when possible and that sometimes means I delay writing until I have a set of similar products to review.
Q. I have been using Norton Internet Security for some time on two home PCs and a predecessor. To give it full credit, and touching wood, I have never had a virus or intrusion problem, at least that I am aware of. But I have a few niggles with it and wonder if there may be a better alternative. My niggles are:
1.The Live Update feature is supposed to keep the virus definitions up to date by itself. But I never am sure if it is: when I fire up the PC nothing happens and I end up running it manually just to be sure it is OK.
2.The disk scan always reports the same 6 files as at risk, but then cannot delete them and does not say why.
3.The reminder to renew a month before the subscription runs out has kicked in. It gives every indication it would take my money and start a new 12 month range, before my time is up. Maybe this is not right, but I do not want to spend my money to see if they are trying to push you into paying 12 months worth every 11 months.
I also use Ghost as a back-up system and whilst this is quite good, it has a major problem. I want daily storage, plus monthly full back-up, to a network drive. To keep space demands reasonable I have asked it to store only 3 months back – so after 3 months it should delete the previous full back up. But it throws in full back ups at apparently random times of the month, so the 3 month “security” of going back that I want gets cut to say 1 month, because I have told it to only keep 3 full back ups.
For these reasons I am wondering what you recommend now as full home office virus plus firewall protection and a back up utility?
A. I guess the good news is that Norton Internet Security has kept your machine safe. If you have set the software to automatically update virus definitions in the background I am sure it will do that – you can check this from the main screen by clicking on the ‘last update’ button, but it certainly does no harm to launch a manual update as well.
You don’t mention which 6 files are always reported as being ‘as at risk’ but it is certainly annoying that the program doesn’t explain why these files cannot be deleted ( I suspect they are system files that are locked and ‘in use’).
As far as billing is concerned, I’m sure you will get your full 12 month’s protection, though like you, I do find it annoying that the renewal reminders on many software subscription services start so soon.
Personally my favourite security suite is ZoneLab’s ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite and ZoneLabs (www.zonelabs.com) offers a 15-day free trial so you can try it out before deciding whether to buy.
ZoneAlarm does not include a backup utility like Ghost so you might also want to opt for a combination local/online backup system. In terms of local backup software, one of the most powerful and flexible packages around (though not necessarily the most simple) is EMC Retrospect 7.5 Professional which should enable you to create the incremental backups and save them for 3 months only. Alternatively NovaStore NovaBackup 7.3i s an excellent program though I’m not sure it will support all the functionality you require so you might want to check with the support line first.
I would also suggest you consider an online backup service like Mozy (www.mozy.com) or the currently free unlimited storage ElephantDrive (www.elephantdrive.com) service in addition to your local network backup.
Q. I am looking to rely on backing up files onto DVD’s. Would you have any recommendations on external DVD recorders? I am looking at the LG one at present.
A. Frankly, they are pretty standard, so I would chose the best deal you can find. Just make sure your backup software supports the drive you choose.
Q. What is the best physical back-up for use with a Mac? I have used Iomega Zip disks in the past, as I like password protection and easy re-use. However Zips seem not to work well with a Mac.
A. Partly it depends on how much material you are seeking to back up and whether you want to use physical media that you can store in a safe location, or would feel happy backing up to a local hard drive.
The main options are probably an external DVD recorder, preferably a firewire enabled device, and backup onto DVD disks, or an external drive like Maxtor’s One Touch Firewire. From an ease of use perspective, I would chose the One Touch.
Q. While travelling in the United States, I became aware of the number of bluetooth enabled cars and I wanted to know if there was somewhere I could find a list of bluetooth cars in the UK and how they worked? Are they compatible with my Nokia 9300 phone (not the i)?
I could not find a full list of cars sold in the UK with built-in Bluetooth. However some individual manufacturers do detail their Bluetooth enabled vehicles and phone compatibility.
For example BMW (http://www.bmw.co.uk/bluetooth) which pioneered the technology in cars in 2002, now offers it across all its vehicles. However, the Nokia 9300 is not one of the handsets listed as being compatible on the web page.
There are of course quite a few aftermarket Bluetooth hands free calling wireless kits available from companies like Motorola, Samsung, LG, Nokia and Parrot that you might want to check out. I particularly like the Motorola Bluetooth Car Kit IHF1000 which costs about pounds 140.