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Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at askleo.info.

OK, I know we all get tired of hearing it, but we all need reminding, so I'm going to ask it again: are you backed up?

Seems like not a day goes by where I don't get a question that boils down to "I've lost all my data, what can I do?" Learn a hard lesson, that's what you can do.

I honestly don't care how you back things up. I've said before that backup strategies are like exercise programs: the best one is whatever one you'll actually use. Be it a one button stock backup program to an external drive, or a complex network of machines and perl scripts such as I run, you need something.

Take a look at each machine you have, and ask yourself this question: what happens if this machine dies. I mean really dies ... the data on it is totally unrecoverable; every hard disk is gone. If the answer is anything more than a minor annoyance, you really need to look at what you're doing.

You must back up, or you will be sorry. Take it from someone who's learned that lesson the hard way long ago.

Do you have a website or dedicated server at a hosting company? What happens if that hard disk goes up in smoke? Or the server is compromised and erased? Are you covered? Will your business be crippled, and if so, for how long?

You're not done yet. For each on-line service you use, ask yourself a similar question: what if that service went away, or you permanently lost access? Annoyance or disaster? Think about photo sharing services, social networking sites, or IM services. Would you lose contacts or important documents?

I recommend strongly against using most free services as the sole repository for critical information because I have lots of horror stories of people losing contacts, resumes, college applications and even masters thesis because their free email account was hacked. That simply shouldn't happen, all of that should be backed up on a local computer or on some other server.

Now I know many of you are you the technical go-to person for friends, family members and others. Even if you're totally backed up yourself, ask these questions on their behalf and help them set up some kind of backup or disaster plan.

Let's face it - you know exactly who it is they'll go-to when (not if) that disaster eventually happens.

I'd love to hear what you think. Visit ask leo dot info, and enter 10433 in the go to article number box. Leave a comment, I read them all.

This is a presentation of askleo.info, a free on-line technical question and answer service. Hundreds of questions and answers are online and ready to help solve your computer problems.

That's askleo.info.

Article C2700 - June 22, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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9 Comments
dark0z
June 23, 2006 12:36 AM

Symantec.

I can't tell you how many times I've bought Norton Systemworks/GoBack and Firewall bundles. I actually estimate the $100(est.) software price tag into purchases of new PCs for customers, simply because of the amount of protection the firewall offers (helps keep PC clean), yet alone SystemWork/GoBack's incredible abilities to restore and backup PC data. Computer was working 5 minutes ago? No problem. GoBack actually lets you browse your history (no joke) and restore to whatever point and time, including to safe points. Trying a new proggy? Use SafeTry which allows you to keep installations, or safely remove them (great for pulling AOL files off their 9.0 software which is impossible to remove).

So why get Norton Systemworks/Firewall?

SystemWorks helps to optimize performance (like uninstalling messenger if you want), and even offers AutoGoBack to restore your PC to the same point everytime you reboot (great for PC labs). Antivirus? Check. You can even configure Scheduled Tasks to run the antivirus and "one button checkup" to run for your customers, so they don't have to worry about it (just leave the PC on).

Oh, did I mention their firewall? Great stuff. Spam protection doesn't hurt either.

If you're worried about backup, get GoBack. It's a must. If you want performance and safety, go for SystemWorks (includes GoBack). Want to reduce the amount of home visits? Get SystemWorks/Firewall. Heck, you can even lock them out of control panel if you'd like. ;-)

Simon
June 23, 2006 5:05 PM

I feel I should post something to provide an alternative viewpoint to somewhat counter the perception that large companies can get free advertising ("So why get Norton Systemworks/Firewall?" Let me tell you...") by having employees post to computer support blogs.

>the amount of protection the firewall offers
>(helps keep PC clean)...

The original firewall included with Windows XP was inadequate, but the one in SP2 is actually pretty good, and certainly adequate for the vast majority of uses. If you think you need more protection (or run an older edition of Windows) there are numerous options, e.g. Zonealarm, which are not only free but by all accounts are more streamlined and use less system resources than Norton.
I do not think it necessary to point out how "helps keep PC clean" is misleading.

>GoBack actually lets you browse your history (no
>joke) and restore to whatever point and time,
>including to safe points.

I like the "no joke", but I hardly need to point out that this functionality for system files has been built into Windows for quite a few years, in the form of "System restore" (yes, even browsing history and restoring to a specific time). Admittedly this only covers system files rather than all data and documents as GoBack does, but by far the most likely way of losing your data and documents is if your hard drive dies, in which case GoBack, as it stores recovery info on your hard drive, will not help one bit. You'd do far better to use System restore to guard against corruption of system files, and back up your data and docs properly to an external medium, as Leo recommends.

>(great for pulling AOL files off their 9.0
>software which is impossible to remove).

The irony is that Norton products are notorious for being impossible to completely remove. Indeed, there is almost a whole community built around trying to create a program that properly removes it, and only very recently have Symantec themselves actually had a go, producing their own removal tool (http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/tsgeninfo.nsf/docid/2005033108162039). Their 2006 version, incidentally, is no better than their last, and still won't remove properly with "Add/remove programs".

>SystemWorks helps to optimize performance (like
>uninstalling messenger if you want)

You mean I can pay for a piece of software to do what it would take me 10 seconds with Windows "Add/remove programs" (if you meant MSN Messenger) or services.msc (if you meant Messenger service)? Where do I sign up?

>Antivirus? Check.

Precisely the same comments re: Norton firewall apply here: there are better, more streamlined products that use less system resources (and uninstall themselves without leaving dross all over your system) available for free; such as Grisoft AVG antivirus (free edition).

>You can even configure Scheduled Tasks to run
>the antivirus

If this is true, this would make Norton antivirus the only product on the market where you have to configure this functionality instad of it being available by default.

>Oh, did I mention their firewall? Great stuff.

Yes. Yes, yes you did. In fact, so did I.

>Spam protection doesn't hurt either.

According to my sources, Norton Antispam uses a combination of blacklist, whitelist, keyword search, and Baysian filtering. You know, just like every other antispam program that's ever existed. Many of which are open source, and thus free; not to mention the usual: more streamlined, less system resources, easier to uninstall etc.

>If you're worried about backup, get GoBack. It's
>a must.

Again, I emphasise that it will do nothing whatsoever against a hard disk failure. Meanwhile, if a system is rendered unbootable as a result of corrupt OS files, System restore is perfectly suitable. This limits the usefulness of Goback to recovering data that will be lost if you trip, fall on the keyboard, accidentally delete one or more important files, empty the recycle bin, initiate a disk defragmentation, and remain unconcious throughout it. In which case you could just recover your data from the external backup you should have made anyway in case of hard disk failure.

>If you want performance and safety, go for
>SystemWorks

The same Systemworks that is legendarily unstable (see http://www.barbarabrabec.com/ReaderMail/NortonSystemWorks-problem.htm for some examples; Google for many more)?

>Heck, you can even lock them out of control
>panel if you'd like. ;-)

Excellent idea! Then they won't even be able to attempt to uninstall Norton with the Add/remove programs applet -- even if it doesn't work anyway.

Oh well, I think I've made my point. Good day, all.

Mrs. Libbie Whitson
June 23, 2006 6:41 PM

You talk about back up, I have photo's I don't want to lose. How do I get them on a C.D or save them.??
Thanks.
Mrs. Libby

Leo
June 23, 2006 6:45 PM

If you have a CD burner, it should have come with software that will allow you to copy those images to a CD-ROM. Exactly how varies, but I recommend looking into the software's instructions for how to create a "data CD", and copying your images that way. It's what I do.

And if you don't have a CD burner, naturally I recommend you get one. A CD/DVD burner actually - they're not terribly expensive.

dark0z
July 1, 2006 1:01 PM

First off, Iím not an advertiser. I run multiple networks, in multiple locations, with multiple (many) PCs on those networks. You probably donít even know how to keep your own PC, let alone, your network clean.

So, here we goÖ a user who doesnít know how to use:

>I feel I should post something to provide an >alternative viewpoint to somewhat counter the >perception that large companies can get free >advertising ("So why get Norton >Systemworks/Firewall?" Let me tell you...") by >having employees post to computer >support blogs.

Um, sorry, this is my first post to ask-leo.com, but if Iím an advertising agent, then whereís my frigginí paycheck!!!?? :-(

>The original firewall included with Windows XP >was inadequate, but the one in SP2 is actually >pretty goodÖ

OMG, you must have tons of parasites. I bet running Lavasoftís AdAware & Windows new default Defender will prove that your HK-Reg is totally infected, your files screwed, and your browser? I bet those toolbars arenít doing you any good either. I feel sorry for you.

>Öand certainly adequate for the vast majority of >uses. If you think you need more protection (or >run an older edition of Windows)Ö

Why? XP is MUCH better than any version of ME, 98, 95, etc. Oh wait, you havenít upgraded in decades. My bad. Sorry that Microsoft is dropping you from support. Soon, you wonít even be able to USE those OS versions (Win XP can even run proggies in older OS versions).

>Öthere are numerous options, e.g. Zonealarm, >which are not only free but by all accounts are >more streamlined and use less system resources >than Norton.

You obviously donít know HOW to use Norton, considering you couldnít AFFORD it. And who is advertising for whom here? "Streamline" is tech talk for "pretty". I don't need "pretty". I need USEFULL.

>I do not think it necessary to point out how >"helps keep PC clean" is misleading.

I donít see how pointing out that there is no such thing as a ďfree lunchĒ by DLing freeware versions of programs. Sure, theyíre open sourced. Sure, theyíre for free. Until you really want to use the program for the features they lock out until you pay for, and register the software. Thanks, but no thanks. Iíd rather buy full version bundle software that is compatible with its own line of products (own the CD&key), than use freeware versions which cause conflicts, miss sore spots in compatibility, and yes, outright suck. I do however run ZoneAlarm for when Iím playing World Of Warcraft or StarWars online. But thatís because Iím not only using ZoneAlarm, but I have configured NPF to run simultaneously to prevent instances where ZoneAlarm might crash (yes, it happens), and I want NPF as a security backup.

>>GoBack actually lets you browse your history (no
>>joke) and restore to whatever point and time,
>>including to safe points.

>I like the "no joke", but I hardly need to point >out that this functionality for system files has >been built into Windows for quite a few years, in >the form of "System restore" (yes, even browsing >history and restoring to a specific time).

You have no idea. Windows Restore only allows you to restore from reboot safe points, saved restore points, and some installations, but Nortonís GoBack actually allows a user to TURN BACK TIME (literally). If thatís not good enough, use Norton Disk history buffer and take a good look at what Iím referring to. I can actually see what program was doing what, which files it was using, and whether I want to restore my PC history BEFORE that programís run, access, or crash. It even helps backup Windows Restore.

>Admittedly this only covers system files rather >than all data and documents as GoBack does, but >by far the most likely way of losing your data >and documents is if your hard drive dies, in >which case GoBack, as it stores recovery info on >your hard drive, will not help one bit. You'd do >far better to use System restore to guard against >corruption of system files, and back up your data >and docs properly to an external medium, as Leo >recommends.

I whole heartedly agree about using ďother mediumĒ to store backups (Love Iomegaís 250GB External HD connected to my wireless network). But have you ever dealt with a customer who actually DOES this? ROTFL, good luck! Most manufacturers are even moving away from sending OEM disks, and using partition drives. Norton not only backs up the usable drive, but the partition drive itself (make CDs anyone?). I can even hide the partition drive from users to prevent infection of OEM files. Eat that. Need I mention Nortonís Ghost?

>The irony is that Norton products are notorious >for being impossible to completely remove. >Indeed, there is almost a whole community built >around trying to create a program that properly >removes it, and only very recently have Symantec >themselves actually had a go, producing their own >removal tool >(http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/tsgeninfo.nsf/docid/2005033108162039). >Their 2006 version, incidentally, is no better >than their last, and still won't remove >properly >with "Add/remove programs".

Then irony must be your ignorance. The reason why Norton will ALWAYS have this problem (not really a problem, but a design feature) is for the same beauty of Norton products in the first place. A clean uninstall requires a good knowledge of the Windows HK_RegKey files in the first place. It was purposely designed to do this so any instances of Norton products being hacked/uninstalled unintentionally by stupid morons like you, can be easily prevented. Norton can then restore the full function of the program AFTER using GoBack or re-installing. The only way you can truly uninstall Norton GoBack (intentionally) is by disconnecting GoBack from the HDRAM(SP?) BOOTUP (CTRL+G+F at GoBack bootup screen). THEN, and only then, do I ever try and erase leftovers from Norton. This is why Norton did a good job with their homework. Those long string files of {3922884234DFGJS2323etc.} is Norton actually creating a secondary registry/restore backup which cannot be removed unless intended so by administrator/guys like me. Iíll admit, this is not a user-friendly design. But when it comes to safety and restore of system files and programs, this option is a miracle in itself. Thus, you also know why all Norton products come with their own activation keys. Unlike Windows XP, this is not a ploy to only allow single installs, but also a backup protection. Norton saw this in XP, and improved upon the design. Eat that open source!

>(You mean I can pay for a piece of software to do >what it would take me 10 seconds with Windows >"Add/remove programs" (if you meant MSN >Messenger) or services.msc (if you meant >Messenger service)? Where do I sign up?

HA HA!! It doesnít take me 10 seconds. It takes me a click of my mouse button. Not only can I ďTRULYĒ prevent startup and background running, and uninstall Messenger, but I can even use Norton Optimizer to select which user accounts to KEEP messenger (unlike a complete removal, in which no users can use messenger, and some ppl do!) I dare you to do this manually. Impossible.

>Precisely the same comments re: Norton firewall >apply here: there are better, more streamlined >products that use less system resources (and >uninstall themselves without leaving dross all >over your system) available for free; such as >Grisoft AVG antivirus (free edition).

Now whoís advertising for whom here? Hrm? Besides, you should ALWAYS have multiple antivirus running on your PC. Norton is one of the best. Not only is it an antivirus, but also helps PREVENT infections in the first place. It also protects IE browser from being hacked by toolbars (clean toolbar removal? OMG!).

>>You can even configure Scheduled Tasks to run
>>the antivirus

>If this is true, this would make Norton antivirus >the only product on the market where you have to >configure this functionality instad of it being >available by default.

Um, maybe I should explain for idiots, like yourself? Not only is it default, but Norton also allows you to run multiple/individual scheduled scans for all user accounts (most ppl donít even know that Norton scans only user account files only of current the user). Once again, you obviously prove your ignorance by showing me that you never actually learned HOW to use Norton. Not only can I schedule antivirus, but I also can schedule One Button Checkup (for each user) to clean browser clutter, clean up icons, shortcuts, RegKey entries, etc. I donít make house calls for cleanup. I have Norton do it for me on a weekly basis to keep my customers happy. Learn how to =USE= Norton, and you might not even consider open source/free-ware antivirus. Grow up little boy.

>>Oh, did I mention their firewall? Great stuff.

>Yes. Yes, yes you did. In fact, so did I.

No, you didnít. You just swung a low blow. Pathetic.

>>Spam protection doesn't hurt either.

>According to my sources, Norton Antispam uses a >combination of blacklist, whitelist, keyword >search, and Baysian filtering. You know, just >like every other antispam program that's ever >existed. Many of which are open source, and thus >free; not to mention the usual: more >streamlined, less system resources, easier to >uninstall etc.

Once again, I send you a rebuttal: You obviously donít understand how Norton works, and you should never be surfing the Net. Guys like me use Norton to send pathetic users like you into cyberspace with your tails between your legs. ďToo much system resourceĒ, whiner. Some things are WORTH giving resources to use. ESPECIALLY that of which actually protects your PC. AntiSpam actually runs in your Outlook/E-mail prggy to add another filter, and extra blocking features. So now your e-mail is truly spam free.

>>If you're worried about backup, get GoBack. It's
>>a must.

>Again, I emphasize that it will do nothing >whatsoever against a hard disk failure. >Meanwhile, if a system is rendered unbootable as >a result of corrupt OS files, System restore is >perfectly suitable. This limits the usefulness of >Goback to recovering data that will be lost if >you trip, fall on the keyboard, accidentally >delete one or more important files, empty the >recycle bin, initiate a disk defragmentation, and >remain unconscious throughout it. In which case >you could just recover your data from the >external backup you should have made anyway in >case of hard disk failure.

HD failure is a nuisance. I truly agree. The great thing about Norton is, again, how in-depth the designers truly are. Windows System restore is inadequate. Letís be blunt. Since when did Microsoft know how to make good software? Not only is GoBack better, but it also helps make excellent backup disks. It even keeps a history buffer of files deleted from Recycling Bin (a backup of the backup? Sweeeet). It also has Auto GoBack. ďWhaaahÖ?Ē Auto GoBack is for people like me, who run multiple PCs on a network with users I donít trust knowing how to run a clean network. Auto GoBack is one of those beautiful features that can restore a PC to the same point at every reboot. Thus, any user who accidentally (or unknowingly) infects my system, is completely removed (clean), and easily done so by a simple reboot of the PC. Thus, the PC is ready for the next user to come in, screw up, and leave boasting about how smart they are about having installed an unnecessary pr0n downloader on my network. Moron.

>>If you want performance and safety, go for
>>SystemWorks

>The same Systemworks that is legendarily unstable >see http://www.barbarabrabec.com/ReaderMail/NortonSystemWorks-problem.htm >for some examples; Google for many more)?

What can I say? Same stupid people, only they got OEM versions. This is why I buy barebones systems (no DumbDell, or GateSuck, or even *gasp* VaioVomit systems, ugh). Iíve never had an instance where I couldnít manually and completely remove Norton OEM products from these horrid pre-installing monster companies. Besid, Norton purposely does this to prevent users who donít know anything, from fully uninstalling something administrators like me, donít want you screwing with. This is not Nortonís fault, but the manufacturers. Get your facts straight.

>>Heck, you can even lock them out of control
>>panel if you'd like. ;-)

>Excellent idea! Then they won't even be able to >attempt to uninstall Norton with the Add/remove >programs applet -- even if it doesn't work anyway.

Exactly. Lock YOU out. Let me do the dirty work, while you play with your open source butt on the ínet. Hope you have toilet paper.

>Oh well, I think I've made my point. Good day, >all.
>Posted by: Simon at June 23, 2006 05:05 PM

You didnít. And my days are always good. The most problems Iíve had in the past are when people like you use my computer/network. Go home, ruin your own PC. Let the pros like me, do their job. Oh, did I mention that Norton also makes bay slots for servers? Not only do they have firewall and antivirus, but are also preloaded with SystemWorks. Beautiful. Just like the Google bay slots.

Hans
July 1, 2006 1:16 PM

Two things: I will close this thread if things continue to be personal/insulting. There's no need, and it weakens any legitmate points that might be made.

Second (a pet peeve): "allows a user to TURN BACK TIME (literally)" No. Please look up the definition of "literally". No time machines have yet been devised. Again, this kind of thing weakens the points you may be trying to make.

dark0z
July 2, 2006 3:19 AM

So I'm not a linguist either. Pictures speak a thousand words:

http://img205.imageshack.us/my.php?image=nortonliterally1gl.jpg

Jesse Bobolicious
July 2, 2006 4:43 PM

Dark Oz is super correct on this one. You cannot get up to date accurate anti-virus without someone updating and monitoring the current stream of viruses all-the-time. And if you want them to do their job well, you have to pay them. And Norton has taken protection to a new level by integrating all the features that you need into one compatible package. So in conclusion, using a variety of free or ingrained to Windows anti-virus, firewall, spam blockers and system restores is nowhere near comparable to one coherent package of programs and features that are designed by one company with the best and the brightest network specialists in the business. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how many people ask me to fix their computer and I have to tell them no, not till they get a subscription with either Norton or McAphee, allow me to wipe their hard drive and then talk about maybe saving some of the information that they've corrupted. And that's the truth, if you don't use an electronic "condom" on the internet, it is your fault that you have caught diseases. The only thing Norton doesn't do absolutely the best is spyware, probably because spyware too much resembles programs a user might want. Use Spybot by Patrick Kolla for that, or AdAware by Lava. Look at it this way, Norton is the castle that keeps out the badguys, and Spybot keeps your guests in check. Anyway, that was fun, have a good wandschranking weekend ya'll! Happy Am-ur-ica day!

Billy
February 5, 2007 4:14 AM

I Hate Norton Software!!! Why in the world do you have to tell the firewall time after time after time again and again to not let the same dang program not have outbound access
? Shouldn't once be enough?
]

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