Computer Support & Repair
Please note: this page contains reviews and opinions sent in by Berkeley Parents Net subscribers. Your
own experience may be different. Please always check references before hiring!
Berkeley Parents Network >
House & Garden >
Computer Support & Repair
What do others do about backing up the data they have on their home
computer? The most important thing to me are the pictures I have.
Now that I only take digital pictures, what if I lost them all? I
do have them backed up onto a external HD, and some are on CD, and
a selection are uploaded to a share site so I guess I'd still have
access to some of them there. But I'm worried about hard drive
failure or my computer or backup HD being stolen. (There have been
breakins in our neighborhood, we have been lucky.) What are others
doing? Are there good online backup sites? I have 20+ GBs worth...
a little worried
I don't know if this is the perfect solution, but it works for
me so far: Once a month (I make a note on my calendar), I back
up all my ''My Documents'' files (I don't worry about software,
just the content) onto a 250GB external USB hard drive (less
than $100) and walk it down to our safe deposit box, and at the
same time pick up my second external drive from the box for the
next month's backup, just swapping them in and out. The one
that's at home could still get stolen, but at least I have a
copy of everything relatively safe from fire/theft at all
times. I also periodically burn CDs of photos to store at home
or in the safe deposit box.
Knock on Wood
Backup, backup, backup. And backup again! I keep at least triple
backups of all of my data. I have over 600 GBs of photography work
and 700 GBs of music. I backup all the time and keep several off
site. I've spent too much time ripping music and my photography
work is too important to me to lose any of it.
If you have a Mac you can use Carbon Copy to back either entire
drives or specific content. 1 TBs drives are priced reasonably
I buy most of my drives from OWC.
Backup often and have more than one backup! Keep one at work or at
a friends house.
I use an online backup program called SugarSync, available at
https://www.sugarsync.com/ I pay about $50 per year for 30 Gb
of storage. Whenever you add a file or change a file on your
computer, it automatically uploads to the online website
(password protected and secure). It also saves the last five
versions of everything so if you make a mistake, you can go
back to a previous version. You can turn it off when you need
bandwidth for other things, like streaming video, etc. There
are different plans with different storage maximums. You can
try it free for a month too. You can also share files with
others easily and share photo albums, and sync files from
differnt computers. I love the piece of mind knowing that all
my files are online in case my house burns down or everything
is stolen. I can access all my files from any computer hooked
up to the internet too, which is very handy. I am VERY happy
with this service.
When thinking about backing up data, the rule of thumb is that
data must exist on two completely different 'things'. that can
be an external hard drive, CDs, another computer, etc. Hard
drives fail often and data can usually be restored but you
don't want that kind of worry.
The other rule is that if you are protecting the data from
theft or damage like fire/water, you will need to have the data
in two different physical locations. I am now a fan of going
with an online storage/backup service. You can either use
something like a photo sharing service or get a service that
stores yours files for you. I would recommend getting a large
external hard drive and synching it to a hosted site--that
would be your belt with a pair of suspenders......
You should check out either www.mozy.com or www.BackBlaze.com. For about $5 per
month you can back up your entire hard-drive to Internet based storage.
Mozy asks you to define what you want to back up. BackBlaze backs up everything by
default. I prefer latter but it's a matter of opinion really. What I love most: both
both Mac and PCs.
I back up my computer on Mozey.com (I think that's what it
is...I'm out of town right now and using another computer).
It's about $10.00 per month. It automatically backs up
everything daily. There are many sites like this.
It also backs up my pics, BUT I also put all of my pics into a
Kodak site. That way I can send them to other people without
taking up too much of their computer space) and they/I can
order prints etc.
Hope this helps. It's important to have some kind of back up.
Good you are doing this now.
$5 per month - we use it - it's great. YOu can schedule it on
your computer so you don't have to remember to back it up
yourself. And it's offsite.
When searching for an online site, I would recommend to use one
that functions as a storage database so you can get your
originals back, rather than a photo-sharing site like Snapfish.
Flikr will allow you to upload pictures and retrieve your
originals. You can get a small monthly allotment for free (100MB
I think), but to upload more than that you pay a monthly fee. I
also back up my pictures onto DVDs and put it in a bank safety
deposit box. That way if there is a fire, flood, etc. in the
house, all my backup won't be in one place. Good luck!
Here's what I do for backups:
I have two small USB disk drives (I like the little Western
Digital Passport -- tiny, and about $100 from Amazon for 500 GB;
only $75 if 250GB will do). I format the whole partition with
TrueCrypt (www.truecrypt.org) -- free and very secure, so if the
drive is lost or stolen I don't worry.
I keep one at home, and one in my safe deposit box at the bank.
I use the one at home to back up every few days (incremental
backup, so it takes very little time). I store the drive AWAY
from the computer, so if it's stolen they won't think to take the
backup drive. About every three months, I swap the home drive
with its twin at the bank, so I have one that's no more than a
couple months old totally safe even if my house burns down.
There are various ''cloud storage'' options these days, but I
haven't used them and don't know how to evaluate their security
or permanence (what if the company goes out of business? or an
irate employee erases everything? etc.).
--Careful about backups
I use an online service called Mozy that backs up everything
automatically. It's affordable and gives me peace of mind. The
website it mozy.com/home
Yes, you should definitely back up your photos (though it sounds
like a lot of yours are already sort of backed up). Don't do
what I did. My hard disk died a couple of years ago. I had
years and years of photos on it, never backed up. Sometimes you
can recover data from a failed hard drive yourself, using
software, but mine was beyond that. I ended up paying $2,000 to
have an organization in Novato recover all my data. Ouch! Since
then, I back up regularly. The easiest way is using an online
backup service. You might want to take a look at Carbonite
(www.carbonite.com). It's very easy to set up and use. The
first 15 days are free, so you can see if you like it. It costs
about $60 a year to keep it going. Another, cheaper,
alternative, if you have a DVD burner, is to burn all of your
photos to DVD now and then. If photos are mostly what you're
concerned about, online backup might be overkill. The
disadvantage of the DVD solution is that you actually have to do
it! Carbonite is automatic. If you don't have a DVD burner, how
about just copying all of your photos to an online photo site?
Learned the hard way
I need to have a back up system for my computer...all my documents,
photos, itunes, etc. I've been putting this off for a very long time and
don't want to wait till it's too late.
I have a PC....what's good? Prices? Easy-ish to manage?
Thanks in advance
I just love my new backup software/website. It was recommended by the
tech Q&A guy in the SF Chronicle. It's at www.sugarsync.com You
download their program to your computer. You tell the program which
files to back up and then it backs up all the files online to
sugarsync's website. The great thing is, everytime you add a new photo
or song or file to your computer, or save a new version of a document,
it automatically backs it up to sugarsync. This way, you always have a
100% current back up online should there be an earthquake or your house
burns down. You can access your files (securely) using any computer
with internet access, which is very handy. You can also share your
photos online with people through sugarsync's website, and you can
share large files or folders with others if you choose to. I bought 30
Gb of storage for $50/year. I think it's a bargain for the piece of
mind. They have different packages depending on how much storage you
need. You can do a!
free trial if you'dike to check it out (30 days?). It's also very
easy to use, and quick to set up.
I'm not expert, but on the suggestion of the Chronicle's computer
columnist, I started backing up my PC files online at idrive.com. You
set up when, how often, and what you want backed up, and then it runs
automatically (your computer has to be on, but you don't need to be
Their basic program is free, but will only back up 2 GB. That's what I
use, but I don't have it back up everything - especially photos, since
they take so much space. They also offer $50/year for 150 GB.
For photos, as soon as I put them on my computer, I try to remember to
upload them to two different online photo sites (I use Shutterfly and
Koday Gallery) - in case one of them goes belly-up - so I don't have to
use a ton of CDs. Not as convenient, but I don't have to do it often.
There are two main options for computer backup, online and external
hardware, each has advantages.
You can use an online service like http://mozy.com and get 2GB of
storage for free or they have paid plans that accommodate more space.
You set the computer to backup at a certain time and day and it takes
care of the rest. The disadvantage is the data is stored elsewhere and
may not be immediately accessible. If you have a catastrophic failure,
you're going to have to know how to access the data from another
computer for retrieval.
Personally, I use an external hard-drive that backs up all my important
data daily without intervention. Most external drives will come with
some type of software which will allow you to accomplish this in very
easy fashion. For less than, $100 you should be able to find an
external hard-drive to accommodate most needs. Your photos will take
up the most space. I recently purchases a 1 terabyte drive for about
$200 which should be more than enough for quite some time.
The downsides to the external hard-drive would be the potential for
theft, damage (such as fire/flood) and cost. They will also wear out
eventually since they are mechanical.
Eventually I will probably move to a dual external hard-drive
configuration where one gets saved in a fire resistant safe.
Hope this helps!
I would like help understanding the various components needed
to get a home office and business up and running.
1. Domain name - I do understand how to buy one. Is there a
reason not to use GoDaddy?
2. If you have a domain name who hosts you -- or is that even
the right terminology? If I want JaneSmith.com who does someone
send email to -- is it Jane@JaneSmith.com? But then who do I
get my email from? Is that the same as whomever provides my DSL
3. What are the advantages or disadvantages of having these
services bundled or not from a single provider? Recommended
comapnies for all these things?
4. I want my email to download to my computer not just exist on
a web-based service. How do I make this happen?
So....how do I beign to understand all these component parts
and does anyone have suggestions as to who can teach me or how
I do it myself?
Behind the technological curve
Yaron Rosenthal, Berkeley Parents Network Member and owner of 57
Works, can help you with the computer issues that you need help
with. He can also help with just about any PC or Mac problem you
might have. His specialty is setting up back-up systems to
protect your data. 510 677-5816 or shakalim[at]pacbell.net
As a web designer, I get these types of questions a lot from my clients. Here are the basics:
You buy hosting from a hosting company - there are a million of them out there. Most hosting
companies (GoDaddy included, since you mentioned them) also do domain registration, often as
part of the hosting package, and it usually makes sense (convenient and cheap) to do both
through the same company.
Whatever hosting package you choose should come with email accounts that you set up with
whatever name(s) you want - Jane[at]JaneSmith.com, etc. You generally check this email online.
There are ways to hook it up to your Outlook, etc. box, but I've never done that.
Make sure that whatever host/package you choose provides the tools you need - if you plan to use
Front Page, ASP, FTP access, etc., check that those features are included/supported. If you're
working with a web designer, ask them what they need.
In my experience, the smaller hosting companies (my current fav is 1and1.com) are better than
the big providers (Yahoo, Verio, SBC, etc.) when it comes to customer service, features and
price. There are a bunch of sites out there that rate and compare various hosts -
www.hostsearch.com, www.hostcompare.com, etc. Or ask around and see what other people like
You have asked very good questions. I would go for bundled services - one host with web, email
and other functionalities all provided. It's more convenient for you service-wise and more cost
effective. My company offers full webcenter services with complete email package so that you can
access email accounts directly through such favored Pop3 email clients as Outlook, Thunderbird
and Eudora. It also has Auto Responders features where replies can be sent when you are not
physically available. The Design Center feature gives you quick, easy and cost- effective
control over the look and feel of your Business Web site. I would like to discuss with you about
your business needs and give you complete answer of all your questions. Please give me a call at
510 410 9798 or email me at gloriouszone[at]UnFranchise.com
My problem is
that I have two local disks (C and D; the floppy, and CD drives
are A, F and G respectively). Drive C is 16 GB but only has
500 MB available. Drive D is 58 GB and is essentially empty
although I have moved all of my personal files and pictures
onto the D drive. It appears that the C drive is full of
programs (including ITunes). Is it possible to move some of
the programs from the C to D drive or do I need to uninstall
and reinstall on the D drive? Is this DYI project or do I need
to call in the professional? Any websites that might address
issues like this? Thanks!
To answer your main question, about moving software from your C to your D drive,
unfortunately, the only surefire way to do this is to uninstall the software and
reinstall it on D. If you've got the original CDs for the software (or downloaded
copies, or in the case of software like iTunes, access to the WEB site), you can
certainly do this yourself. The tricky part will be moving all of your associated
data over to D. It's not that hard if you're pretty comfortable in general with
moving files around. After you uninstall software, those data files are left around.
Unfortunately, they can sometimes be hard to find. For instance, Microsoft tends to
place your data in some obscure folder that's shared by lots of other software. If
you were to uninstall Outlook, for instance and reinstall it on D, when you ran the
newly installed program, you wouldn't see any of your data (e-mails, contacts,
calendar) until you found your old data and either moved it or told Outlook where to
A bit tricky, but it completely depends on which software you're moving.
All that said, if you can afford to, I'd recommend a different fix. A larger C drive
would be a much better solution. You could even get a used one, cheaply. There are
lots of things that just have to be on C, so you're likely to run into this pretty
constantly. Copying the contents of your old C drive to a new one can be done without
reinstalling everything, but you'd want to hire a pro to do it.
It is possible to uninstall programs from your C drive and re-install them on your D
drive, but that's kind of tedious. The simplest solution is probably buying a new
hard drive and using it as a replacement for your C: drive. Hard drives are so
inexpensive now that it will cost less than $100. Maxtor hard drives come with
instructions and software to help you copy the contents of an old drive to a new
drive. (Other manufacturers probably have the same thing, but I've done this with a
Maxtor drive). Whether you can do it yourself depends upon how comfortable you are
with opening up your computer and removing components. It is a process intended for
consumers to complete, but you have to be comfortable at installing/uninstalling and
connecting/disconnecting your hard drives. If you're not, BestBuy (for instance)
advertises they will installl a hard drive for $39. Finally, there are a lot of
different acronyms associated with hard drives and you need to make sure to get one
that is compatible with your computer. If it currently has only a 16GB drive then it's
probably pretty old, maybe mid to late 90s? It might be time to consider upgrading to
a new computer to solve your hard disk limitations.
Upgrading all of the Time
You could temporarily transfer all your documents (photos, etc.) to an external hard
drive (HD) or burned on DVD, then reinstall your operating system (OS) and all
programs on the large HD (58GB), then transfer all your docs back to the 16GB HD.
Another way of doing it is getting a larger HD, say 150 GB, setting that up as your
storage HD, then transfering all contents of your 16GB to it and converting the 58GB
as your OS HD, for programs only.
The reasoning is that you will accumulate docs more quickly than programs, so you will
need more storage space eventually. And 16GB is small for an OS HD; they work faster
when there is empty space, at least twice as much as taken space.
And your 16GB could remain a back up HD, a MP3 HD or an external HD.
Upgrading a Computer Yourself
I'm needing to upgrade my IBM-compatible PC (memory and hard drive). Any
good suggestions about
where I could have this done in the East Bay?
The cheapest way is to do it yourself. Neither installing more memory nor
a new hard drive is beyond the abilities of anyone who can turn a
screwdriver and plug in a lamp. Get a copy of a book like Upgrading and
Repairing PC's (Pub. QUE, any recent edition will do) at the library if
you're nervous. Ask a computer literate friend to help. At $50/hr. and up,
you'll save some money.
If you still want to find a shop to do it, the folks at PC Ten (on Solano
in Albany, and Piedmont in Oakland) are reliable. 5271388/6525268. Or any
small computer shop -- take a look in Computer Currents for lots of
Putting in new memory is a snap. It is as easy as inserting new batteries
into a flashlight.
Read in your literature that came with the machine to see if you can find
the kind of
memory required for the machine and then go to a catalog and order it. Make
they send instructions. Changing the hard drive is a little bit more
difficult, more screws
to unfasten and to remember where to replace, but is like putting in a
new can of oil into
your car engine. If you can be assured that it is easy and that you can
do it, you will save
a bundle of money. You can order a hard drive directly from IBM or you can
try Le Cie.
Their web page addresses are obvious. Also, to get more experience you
could sign up for
an adult school class dealing in sevicing your computer. I did not go to a
class, but I changed
my own hard drive from a 2 gig to a 9 gig and doubled my memory on my own,
I am 68 years old!
Installing Network Cable
I want to have access to my computer network from the downstairs living room.
The computer room is just almost above the living room, upstairs. I think we could
get a very long network wire and string it inside the wall so it isn't visible. We
need to be concerned about a fireblock in the wall because this wall is very tall,
so we might have to poke a hole through the wall and drill a little hole in the fireblock
so the wire can pass through and down to the bottom of the wall. But, then we have
to be concerned about patching up the hole. Does anyone have suggestions to make
this procedure as painless as possible? Maybe you can recommend a handy person
to do this?
A handyman who did something like this for us a long time ago use a VERY
long drill bit (5 feet?) to get through the fireblock from the top the
the wall in the attic.
You might also consider various wireless networking stuff, there are
Airports for Macs, and for PCs there are wireless options and there are
products that communicate through the power wiring in your home. For
200-500 bucks you can get a complete setup, that's probably as much as
you'd pay a handyman to make all these holes and patch them.
We have an Apple Airport hub that we got just for this
purpose. It is meant for Macs but we adapted for use on our PCs (you can find instructions
on the web but you will need a little technical expertise).
When I got a new computer, I changed from AOL to ATT dail up
internet. Everything works fine. My 11 year old computer is
fine and I want to tie it to the new one. My new one has a
connect to att icon. The old one just has the defunct aol
connect icon. How do I get the att connect icon over to the old
I just want to let the kids do pbskids.org while I read my e-
mail. I have the old one with a phone line going into a y
splice in the new one's phone jack....the old one's msn network
icon ''cannot locate''.....what should I do?
Please advise me.
Get one of these or something similar (a router). You may have to upgrade
In any case, it's pretty unsafe to plug a Windows machine
directly into the internet without a firewall - you can get all
sorts of viruses and worms.
Hi, my husband brought me water last nite when I was working on
our new Dell laptop and he spilled water on the keyboard. I
immediately wiped the water off but within a few minutes the
computer just blew off and shut down. It would not turn on
again. We didn't get the accident insurance and we know the
warranty won't cover the damage. Any advice? Are you a techie
or have a techie partner that might have some feedback? Nancy
I'm not a techie, but my husband is. In any case, you probably
shorted your motherboard. There's nothing you can do, other than
replacing it. I had the same thing happen to me with my
I don't know Dell's arrangements, but even though I recovered
most of the data on my hard drive before sending the laptop to
IBM for repair, I was pleasantly pleased to find out that all the
data was still on the machine after the repair. I believe they
just swapped out the motherboard.
I doubt it's covered under warranty, but I also doubt that it
will be a huge fee. I think our repair was in the neighborhood of
$40; the computer was also returned in a week.
It has been my experience, however, that you can't always count
on having your data on a computer after a repair. Often machines
are ''wiped'' clean when during the repair.
What you may want to do before you send it in for repair is
purchase a ''shell'' ($15 to $50 at Fry's or similar stores) and
get some somewhat savvy person to remove your hard drive and
place it in the shell, connected to a working computer through a
USB port (it's best if you have the same operating systems). You
may be able to recover the data on your hard drive. If you can't
see any of your files, try Googling for free- or shareware
this page was last updated: May 18, 2014
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network