When I was meeting with Nick this past Friday he recommended I start a thread here. If anyone has any computer questions, problems, etc, feel free to ask me here. I’ve been building & repairing computers, doing networking, etc for 20 years. I’ve built over 400 computers in that time as well and spent 10 years trying to find the cheapest way to build quality computers for schools. I’ll respond as quickly as I can. I moved on to software a few years ago (I have a degree in Computer Science) but still consult and keep up with everything.
I can see quite a few good posts getting buried in this thread quickly so I’ll make a little index here:
I also have experience with PC’s but have not kept up to date lately.
I always tell people that it takes a PC to fix a PC. Many times you need one working PC to search the internet for the answer to the problem since a lot of PC problems are not with the hardware.
I often wonder how many HI’s trust their hard drive and have a poor backup plan?
Anyone who depends on a PC should have at least 2-3 of them and backups made very often. A backup should be also kept at another location, I would not even trust a fire safe with my entire business.
Extremely good point. I get several calls a month from home inspectors who had a hard drive crash and want to know how they can recover their inpsections. Short of sending out your hard drive to hard drive recovery place (which isn’t a guarantee and is extremely expensive), you can’t.
You have several options for backing up your important data. It would be best if you chose SEVERAL of these methods or perform each several times (i.e. 2 external drives, external and upload).
The simplest method of backing up is to back up to an external hard drive. Once hooked up these drives appear like another drive on your computer ( the e: drive for example). They can be set up to run automatically every night or every week. You can drag and drop your files to the new computer or use a software program to automatically back them up. External hard drives are very cheap. You can pick up good ones at http://www.newegg.com (my favorite online store) for great prices. Here’s todays special, a 250 gig external drive for $75. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148233 . I have 2 of these drives and always rotate where I keep them. The Maxtor one touch backups are nice, but I prefer to use the free Cobian software I talk about below.
Backup to CD/DVD/Tape. You can use a program like NERO or even the free burner software built into XP/Vista/Mac to burn files to a cd/dvd. Make sure to store the copies in multiple places. If you store them at home with your computer and your home burns down, your backups are gone too. Give a copy to your parents, your safe deposit box, wherever. The drawback of this method is that as your needs grow you might have to copy to mutiple dvd’s each time which requires more effort on your part.
Backup online! If you have a website and some extra storage space you can use a free program like Cobian Backup http://www.educ.umu.se/~cobian/cobianbackup.htm to automatically sync your files with your webserver via ftp. This great program can also copy your website to your local computer. You can set how often, how many backups to keep, etc. I use Cobian backup for backing up our website as well as my nightly computer backups to external hard drives. You can also use one of the many online backup services available online. If your software has an upload online feature for your reports such as Home Inspector Pro (ours), HomeGauge’s or InspectVue’s, use it! The price isn’t that much and is well worth it to protect your data.
I use to work on several machines (8mil. to 15mil. each) that had one host computer and many other computers in the subsystems.
After years of seeing these things up and quit and drives going bad I am so careful that I actually save my report several times during the writing process to a memory stick. Overkill? You bet! Will I ever have to start a report over from scratch at midnight when I have two inspections the next day? Nope, won’t ever happen to me.
Saving while you work is definitely important. Laptops lose power, tablets get dropped and children run by and kick the computer Something that I found that people don’t realize (althought I’m sure you do) is that memory sticks go bad pretty easily. Especially with the fact that people throw them in their pockets and close to magnetic objects frequently.
No problem Scott! I’m glad you enjoyed the tips. If you need any more, let me know.
I would leave it alone. I have my desktop purposely set this way. The “Programs” go on the C drive, all documents, music, back-ups and anything besides the program itself, go on the D drive. I don’t get any cookies or temp files or garbage on my D drive so it is easier to protect and keep clean. All those internet and security problems stay on the smaller C drive. Granted some programs nowadays are pretty darn big, but you would think 18 GB would hold the programs you need.
Like Mike stated, Partition Magic is the way that most people go. 18 gigs is a little small so I can see you wanting to make the partition larger. Partition is what each drive is called when one physical drive is segmented into multiple drives.
Like Steve stated, there are several good reasons to split your hard drive up into partitions. The first being that if you install all your programs and store all your documents and photos to the 2nd drive, you are more protected if your Windows installation becomes corrupted. When that happens you can simply format the C drive and reinstall Windows without the worry of losing any of your data. You WILL more than likely have to reintall most of your programs as most programs require the Windows registry to operate. You would still have the indivdual settings and files created by those programs though. We actually made our software not use the registry for just this reason. Be careful when you partition the drives though. Most manufactures have another hidden partition that is used to restore the system in case of emergencies and this partition shows up in Partition Magic and other programs.
Repartitioning your hard drive is a delicate operation and things occasionaly do go wrong, as you are changing drive sizes but want your data kept intact. Make sure to backup before your perform the repartition.
There are a few free alteratives though. Check out: http://partitionlogic.org.uk/index.html as it’s probably the easiest free alternative to use. If you are going to use it with Vista make sure to check out the notes.
I do the same except I have 3 directories C = my operating system (Windows) only, D = just my programs & Z = a 2nd separate hard drive just for mass storage. This way, after a while when Windows gets buggy & sluggish - I can do a clean install of the operating system only & not have to re-install EVERYTHING else too.
Ahh, freeing up some space. Check out this GREAT free utility called WinDirStat. It is a must have in any computer geeks aresenal. It graphically maps out your hard drive so that the largest files take up the biggest blocks. It makes it extremely easy to clean up. Let me know how it works for you and how much you find that you deleted. Download it here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/windirstat/
Seriously though, what kind of video are you taking about? What resolution, how many streams do you plan to be allowed to view at a time? How many different streams are running?
What kind of bandwidth do you have connecting your network to the internet, or is this all running on the local network?
Is anything else running on this network? How many workstations? Are you using the network for VOIP too? If you’re running VOIP, are you running it over the same network as the streaming video or are you running them on separate networks.
I do quite a bit of consulting for large comapanys (less so now as Home Inspector Pro is keeping me so busy). I’ve pretty much always run with Cisco routers so I don’t have experience with the HP 530X series. I’m sure they work pretty much the same so you should be able to set on the router itself what types of packets get the highest priority. Of course this depends on what else you’re running on the network as well.
No porn: =) but we are running United Streaming Video at an average rate of 3oo to 400 videos per day with bursts up to 2000 viewings a day. Resolution is midline and not quite as important. (You can tell its not porn)
OC-3 connectivity to internet with the bandwidth bottlenecks actually being at the switch backplanes and in some cased the desktop itself.
Its Novell, of course more is running on the network. Zenworks version 9.0 is being used for desktop management. (Imaging and pushing reg hacks etc.) RP and several other web based apps are running with the same bursty traffic patterns as the video. It’s a small network with only 2300 pcs 73 switches and 6700 users. We do not use VOIP.
Are you a home inspector at night and a network admin during the day? I take it that this is a very large school (a college)? OC3’s run around $30,000 a month!!
2300 hundred users is a huge network!! I’ve been coordinating a 500 pc rollout at a high school where we are loading Ubuntu onto every machine and integrating it into a windows domain for the last 2 weeks. This is one of the last consulting jobs I will be doing though as I don’t have time anymore. We will installing everything over the network via PXE and a TFTP server.
To be honest you need a lot more than a little advice. You need someone to come out and look at your entire network, track all the traffic for a few days and see what is slowing things down. How much video/data really needs to be looked at. United Streaming is the Discovery videos? Are you downloading these to a local server then redistributing it? You need to be running gigabit switches and gigabit network jacks to make sure that the desktops are getting traffic quickly. The switches being more important.
One question would be, why are you running the video over the same network as everyone else if you are broadcasting it outwards? I’m still a bit unclear as to whether your are hosting this video or streaming it in. The video servers if bringing in should be in some sort of DMZ so that their traffic is not clogging up all your switches. It should be right behind your external firewalls. That way it won’t affect anything internally.
p.s. I’ve rewritten this a few times while thinking about it.