WinDirStat – Still useful after all these years

Credit when credit is due. When you have an app you keep on using after more than a decade, it’s really time to write a small post to give the app a tiny bit of the massive credit it deserves.

It’s funny, I thought that eventually needing to find free disk space would be a thing of the past. With single hard drives reaching sizes well beyond 10TB, I thought trying to clean up hard drives would be the last thing I would have to do. Well that did not account for the rise of the SSD drive, where free space is once again something that is hard to keep. Even though I thought my 1TB SSD would be sufficient, I ended up running out of space after a few too many game installs and game play recordings.

Enter WinDirStat, the best way to visualize where your disk space is allocated and the best way to identify what to delete or more to a less expensive storage system.

I really don’t recall when I started using WinDirStat, but I’m sure it was a long time ago. And I still go and download it when I get out of disk space. Which is more frequent than a Iike. Thanks Bernhard!

PC Tech Journal is back

After a long hiatus, PC Tech Journal is back!

First step was to pick a new hosting provider. This is when I realized I already had the 1&1 hosting package called “Unlimited Plus”. So I decided to give it a shot.

Two days later, after a number of trial and error, I was able to restore my blog here. It definitely wasn’t easy and I was really lucky to have an old cPanel backup handy. Which brings me to my small comment of the day. How can 1&1 not have a nice clean backup interface the same way cPanel has? One that backs up all your site data (including databases, email, etc.) in one click? This lack of feature is making me rethink my “choice”. I started looking at other options, but couldn’t find a clear winner, so I’ll be looking some more.

Anyways, it’s good to be back!

 

 

My computer ate my class notes!

This column was previously published in January 2009 in the Quid Novi, the newsletter for law students at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Some of the information might be outdated and some might be targeted specifically at McGill law students.

We rely so much on our computers and laptop these days that taking good care of our computer files is a smart strategy. You laptop could be stolen, your hard drive could crash, or you can simply erase the document containing your notes. This article will go over some of the different ways you can backup your data, and give you some of the pros and cons of some of those methods.

The “do nothing” backing up method

This is by far the most popular and easiest to implement method. You don’t do anything. The only problem is that once something goes wrong, it really goes wrong. If your laptop is stolen, there is little you can do, besides going to the police. If you still have access to your hardware but have trouble finding your files, there might be some solutions. For example, Ontrack Data Recovery makes a product that allows you to recover files from corrupted hard drives (assuming the hard drive is still working). Another tool I used in the past is called WinHex: it’s a program that allows you to look at the raw content on your hard drive. You could use it to search for text you remember as being part of your document and try to extract it from the hard drive.

Anyways, I hope you read the rest of the article and never have to refer to this section when disaster strikes. While post-disaster solutions exist, they are never perfect.

WHERE: Trial of ontrack data recovery – http://www.ontrackdatarecovery.com/data-recovery-downloads/.
Trial of WinHex – http://www.x-ways.net/winhex/
PROS: Least amount of effort – before disaster strikes.
CONS: No real plan for the aftermath.

Backing up to your local hard drive

This is one option which, if setup right, gives you some protection around accidental file removals. The problem with this option is that it’s like putting all your eggs in the same basket. If you lose your hard drive, you lose your backup. Since this isn’t really a solution, I won’t discuss it much further.

PROS: Can help with accidental file removals.
CONS: No redundancy.

Backing up to a USB key

I know many law students are quite fond of their USB keys. We can even get a whole collection at the upcoming career days. Personally, while this is better than the first option, I find it to be one of the worst forms of backups. Why?

Read More…

The best thing since slice bread?

I recently installed the Swype Beta keyboard for Android. The keyboard replaces the virtual keyboard that comes by default with Android. In my case, I had a Motorola Milestone/Droid, so I had the stock keyboard.

I have to say, I’m very impressed with Swype. The accuracy is quite high, and the choices presented when Swype is not sure what word I meant to type are pretty decent and easy to pick.

Anyways, I think every Android user should look forward to having the option of using such a virtual keyboard.

The only thing I am waiting for is French support, which I understand will eventually happen. Right now, only English, Italian and Spanish are supported.

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