Monday, December 11, 2006

IE7 menu location

Maybe I'm just a old fart who likes his menu to be where every other application has their menus, but IE7's menu position (underneath the address bar) drives me nuts. To change this and move it back to the top, set the follow registry key to 1 (add the DWORD value if it doesn't exists):


Sunday, December 10, 2006

TrueImage backup software

One of the reasons I bought the new HDD was so that I can have a place to set up more regular backups, and not have to manually backup to removable media as often. I want to setup an automated backup schedule with me doing a full backup to DVDs only every so often.

I mounted the drive on the Linux box and set up access to it through SAMBA since I want to back up files that are on the Windows machines also. I started looking around for a backup solution for Windows. There is always the basic backup tool that comes with the OS, and I also have Acronis TrueImage that I got a while back to create a bootable image of one of my test windows box so I don't have to reinstall Windows everytime.

Acronis is pretty full featured and allows setting up backups based only on files that have changed which is what I wanted. Before I installed it though, I looked at what kind of things it puts on the computer and saw that it added 4 processes to the startup list (1 service, 3 running in the registry's run section):
TrueImageMonitor.exe : "provides the interface between running Acronis True Image tasks and the user. It allows to observe the tasks progress and cancel the running tasks. It is started when a user logs into the system and terminates when the user logs off." -- Acronis Support

Timountermonitor.exe : "observes the tasks concerning an image mounting (exploring).
These programs are not required by Acronis True Image to perform its tasks, and can be terminated if you think it occupies too much memory, but you will loose the ability to control running Acronis True Image tasks." -- Acronis Support
Schedhlp.exe - "Acronis scheduling service helper. This program monitors the logons and logoffs in the running system and notifies Acronis scheduling service about them. It is started when a user logs into the system and terminates when the user logs off. Acronis True Image uses this program to schedule tasks on user logon/logoff and to run non-scheduled "Image creation" operation." -- Acronis Support
Schedul2.exe -- "Acronis scheduling service. This service is started on the computer startup and remains active until the computer is turned off. It is used by Acronis software to start scheduled tasks. Note that Acronis True Image always schedule image creation tasks, even if you start the "Image creation" operation. Thus if you stop Acronis scheduling service, then you loose the ability to create images in Windows." -- Acronis Support

Digging around the support forums, it sounded like schedul2.exe is the only one that is critical, but the descriptions aren't exactly clear. It sounds like when a process gets kicked off, the TrueImageMonitor is what allows an users to abort it. The Timountermonitor has something to do when you mount an archive as if it was another directory on your drive. Schedhlp is the most confusing as I'm not sure what it would want to do when a user logs in-and-out. One post said he couldn't get TrueImage to run backups when the computer shutdown unless this was on which makes sense if he created an event to occur when he logs (i.e. shutdown).

I'm gonna play around with it, but if anyone has a better understanding or recommendation about backups let me know.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Seagate External USB/Firewire HDD

This weekend I got myself the 750 GB Seagate Dual Interface (USB2.0/Firewire) External HDD [ST3750640CB-RK]. I looked around at the various external enclosures and internal HDD combination, but since Best Buy was selling the drive with an instant $100 rebate and I had a discount coupon the price came out better.

Seagate Picture

The drive's spec is pretty good:

  • 7200 RPM

  • 16MB Cache

  • 2 lb. 9.5 oz.

  • USB 2.0 port

  • Firewire (IEEE1394a) port

The drive is pretty compact and feels solid in my hands. It comes with a stand so you can have it sit upright or flat if you wanted to stack them. The problem is that there are no rubber feet if you do lay it out flat so it'll slide around on a smooth surface.

The drive is formatted as FAT32 and comes with a one-push button that will start a back-up program if you use it with Windows. I didn't try it with Windows but instead connected to my Linux server.

Setting it up was very simple and involved plugging it into the electrical outlet and connecting the USB cable from the drive to the computer. My Linux box didn't automount the drive, but I was able to check that linux can see it using "fdisk -l". This will return the device name that can be use to manually mount the drive:
mount -t vfat [device name]

Once I knew it was working, I decided that since I will primarily use it with Linux that I'll format it to use ext3 instead of FAT32 so it can understand UNIX file permissions. Unmount the drive and format using:
/sbin/mke2fs -j [device name]

This will erase everything on the drive and make use ext3 (ext2 + journaling). The process was very quick although it uses up a bit more space then FAT32. Once I was done formatting, the drive showed 688 Gb total and 198 Mb used. I think the default FAT32 had 699 Gb total.

Once it looks like everything is working, I added an entry into my /etc/fstab so that the drive will get mounted.

I'm debating whether I should use the fstab or whether to use automount, but this is a minor thing. Otherwise, the drive seems to operate seemlessly with Linux. I now need to get my other machines to back up files to the new drive.