The Everlasting Backup Dilemma

The Problem

Every time a device breaks or a hard drive crashes, we remember the need to back up our data. The majority of us have no current backup. What is worse, we have no backup plan. Today, all of our valuable data – documents, pictures, videos – are scattered over different devices and different backup media. The amount of data we store is growing every day. Gartner predicted that the average storage per household will reach 3.3 terabytes in 2016, of which 64% will be stored locally[i]. With the emergence of mobile devices and the quality of media captured at any moment in our life, data volumes are increasing exponentially.

And yet, we spend little time thinking about how to securely store data: this is part of the everlasting backup dilemma we all face.

Many options to consider.

Business users are very diligent when protecting corporate data. Data is captured on servers which have two sets of safety precautions tied to the operation. Most data servers run with RAID systems which are able to recover the data even if one of the hard drives crashes. Additionally, servers are backed up (often daily) to counteract any server failure. This is too pricey and too complex for any household to try implementing, but the principles should apply anyway: backup and backup the backup!

The easiest way to back up your data is with cloud providers. They offer a vast amount of storage with security built in.

In Windows 10, Microsoft makes it easy to store your data with OneDrive. Google and Apple offer similar services, but for PC users, OneDrive is nicely integrated with your PC. However, as the forecast from Gartner shows, most users will not consider online storage for all their data. Some might not like to have their data in the hands of others, some feel that online data is subject to government snooping, and others just don’t want to keep it locally. Period.

All points make sense; we have to ask ourselves if online storage is “forever”? Will providers shut down unused accounts that are used for longtime storage? Do I always have access to the data?

The majority, however, choose local storage, which means having external or internal hard drives with enough space for us to load the backups or sync our data. There is nothing wrong with it, but we have to remember: backup the backup. Hard drives do go down. I remember that my backup external drive broke the very same time as the internal drive. I still believe it was some kind of power surge. Some heavy data users in a household have a separate data server which will need to be backed up as well.

Another good option is DVD storage. Common DVDs hold 4.7 GB of data; that is a lot of space for documents and pictures, but not for movies or high resolutions graphics.  Blu-ray disc provide storage capacity up to 100 GB of data.

With the availability of inexpensive high capacity hard drives at about $ 50 per terabyte, we have dismissed the good old CD. They are easier to manage, but – and this is a big but – hard drives do break.

Organization is key.

No matter what medium we choose, organization is key. With so much data being collected, we have to organize our data in order to find it again. And that is another problem with online data storage, where folders grow out of control, or we collect hard drives as much as the data itself. How do we ever want to find the right data? (Granted, the search tools are wonderful these days and they do find a lot of stuff fast.)

However, with more data, we have to create a good system of what to store, how to store it, and how to retrieve it.  Since everyone likes their own system, it is hard to prescribe the perfect system. I do like to back up my PCs at a certain time and archive the image. Backing up your whole PC will also preserve your applications, which might be necessary to run to interpret the data.  I also recommend a backup of all external drives periodically.

A new and innovative local storage solution.

Recently I got re-introduced to M-Disc, a long term storage solution that is both secure and very long-lasting. M-Disc is a new kind of DVD and Blu-ray disc, which lasts basically forever and is a perfect medium for storage. Capacity is the same at 4.7GB (DVD), 25 GB (Blue-ray) and 100GB (Blue-ray), although the lifetime has been extended tenfold.

With M-Disc, you can have a secure and long-lasting archive of your data, your PC images and the various libraries you wish to keep. They are local and can be stored in any place (i.e. your bank vault).

Even if the initial costs of having an M-Disc compatible drive and the discs might be a touch higher, it is a cheaper solution for the long run. Check out and learn about this innovative approach.

Ashampoo ( and Nero ( are two companies who embraced this new technology with their burning software.

[i] “Forecast: Consumer Digital Storage Needs, 2010-2016.” The report is available on Gartner’s website here.

Windows 10: the integrated OS for desktop and mobile users

With the release of Windows 10 now available, users who have downloaded the technical preview were relieved to see the return of a familiar Windows 7 user interface. Though when Windows 7 was released in 2009, mobile was not as prevalent as it is now; thus, the Windows 10 improvements and implementations of a mobile-friendly interface make it the ideal operating system for longtime holdouts still using Windows XP or Vista.

Windows 8’s interface was such a dramatic change from its predecessor; many thought its design was more restrictive than useful. While tablet users were given a great interface to experience on a touch screen, desktop users were paralyzed with the app-centric interface and moving icons. Running the Windows 10 operating system on a tablet will again be a great experience for users given its similar design to Windows 8’s tiles. But this system has a new flair to it, with knowledge Microsoft gained from the Windows 8 start menu. It’s my opinion that Microsoft worked hard at combining the two clashing worlds of desktop and laptop users with mobile tablet users into one integrative OS with Windows 10’s start menu and overall user design experience.

In the Windows 10 release, Cortana is being introduced to PC users. The voice recognition and text-assisted computer AI allows for ease of access and a different approach on completing tasks. But, it is not without its flaws. Personally, I have a deep voice and accent. Cortana has a hard time understanding the timbre of my voice, which is why I likely will not use Cortana. But for most users, Cortana on a desktop will improve the desktop PC experience: a touchscreen wasn’t a life-changing opportunity for desktop users. Cortana is likely to have a much bigger effect on users’ desktop experience.

Probably the best optimizations in Windows 10 comes with the very close integration with OneDrive, Office apps, and my local hard disk. With such seamless synchronization across the channels offline and online, I am able to work on documents at the office, and continue to connect and revise them over the weekends on my laptop while I am at home. In Windows 10, this experience is executed much more smoothly than it was in Windows 8.

Come July 29, I will be making the move to Windows 10, along with a lot of other eager users. If you are interested in an easy upgrade solution to migrate your files, settings, users, and even applications from your old operating system to the new Windows 10 OS without overwriting the system, you’ll want to read more about our product: PCmover Windows Upgrade Assistant here.

Enterprise IT Pros Prefer PCmover Enterprise over Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool (USMT)

One of the most popular free tools used by enterprises today for large enterprise migration projects is Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool (USMT). However, IT personnel declared a clear preference for PCmover Enterprise over free alternatives, including USMT, by a 3 to 1 margin. Enterprises who evaluated Laplink’s product cited its ability to migrate data that other tools missed, as well as the ease to implement customized rule sets and work flow as their reasons for preference.

PCmover Business Left

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Solution to the Windows Easy Transfer Problem: PCmover

Microsoft users upgrading to Windows 8.1 were in for a big shock when they opened their trusty Windows Easy Transfer tool.

Microsoft’s latest version of Windows has significantly reduced the usefulness of Easy Transfer. Previously, Microsoft allowed users to transfer files and settings directly from one Windows PC to another across a network or using an Easy Transfer Cable. Now, in Windows 8.1, users can only transfer data files using only external media, like an external hard drive or USB stick.

WET external save

It’s even worse if the old PC is running Windows XP. In that case, Microsoft will not allow Easy Transfer to be used at all.

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Comparison Series – PCmover vs. Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool

PCmove VS.

Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool

Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool (USMT) tool provides large organization a way to transfer data from one PC to another. USMT is a command line driven utility that is used for a larger deployments in corporate settings and can work on most version of Windows but requires extensive development for older versions.

USMT utilizes a two step process (load state and scan state) to capture and transfer user accounts, settings, and data to a “destination” PC. Most importantly, it does not transfer applications. This can have a major impact in regards to end-user downtime, helpdesk support activity, and other costs for PCs with non-standard software (media replacement costs).

The User State Migration Tool also requires XML expertise on an ongoing basis, and possibly software development resources in order to create a user interface, configure application settings for migration, and migrate non-standard configurations on a user’s desktop. This can drastically increase the cost of deployment services, upgrade services, and other support related services.

PCmover Enterprise can also be used to deploy “user templates” or “images” stored as an archive file (done using a file-based migration method on a reference PC). Since PCmover is hardware and OS neutral, updates to the core image will not require updates to the PCmover migration “templates” or “images”, enabling PCmover to streamline the imaging maintenance component. “Templates” may contain a single application and no data, multiple applications, or a pre-set grouping of data and applications specific to the user or role. Continue reading

Comparison Series – PCmover vs. Windows Easy Transfer

We get tons of questions about how PCmover compares to other utilities out there and so we are starting a comparison series. The first in the series is PCmover vs. Windows Easy Transfer.

PCmove VS. Windows Easy Transfer

In comparison to PCmover Professional, Windows Easy Transfer (WET) provides an incomplete migration experience and does not transfer everything you need from your old PC.

WET is a migration utility that can be downloaded for XP and is available on Vista and Windows 7. With this tool, users can move limited types of files and settings stored on their computers. It provides an incomplete migration experience as it can only transfer certain Windows settings and data files.

PCmover is a complete and precise migration utility. It allows users to move entire applications, documents, settings, user profiles and folders. Through a step-by-step easy to use migration wizard, PCmover will automatically move your entire “PC personality” from one computer to another. PCmover will not affect the source computer and will only copy what the user wants from the source PC. If you forget to move something over, go back and undo the migration and bring over everything you want. Continue reading