For Non-techies


Below are some basic technology related topics. Most are what friends have asked me. I actually have more, but have never finished converting emails to pages.



  • Redundant: Have multiple concurrent places/devices for your backups. This could be important if, for instance, that single 10 year old external drive dies at the same time as your laptop. :-)

  • Resilient: I hate to be "morbid", but this is an often over looked factor. That backup drive on your desk won't do any good if the house burns down or a burglar takes all the electronics on your desk or the cat spills your tea on it.

  • Realistic: Be truthful for what you can do to make the backups. Don't say you'll do it manually every weekend when you know you won't.


  • Leaving a backup on your desk is not resilient, even if you have drives of different ages. Think about a cloud backup or a fire-proof safe; I prefer the former.

  • Everyone can't afford or may not want a fire-proof safe or using the cloud. So a friend's house? Just be careful about being realistic (getting the backup there). Also, consider that you might have one drive on your desk and another at a friend's house. If both your laptop and local drive are stolen, there will be some days you may have lost data (length of redundancy).

  • Manually copying files may not be realistic. Manually uploading files to the cloud may not be realistic. If you can't find trusted free solutions and can't build/write your own scripts, think about buying something.

Making A Choice

So I hope you can make some choices. At some point I hope to post some software to use. For now, what I do is:

  • One external drive that is about 5 years old

  • One external drive that is about 1.5 years old

  • Run an rsync command from local to each drive.

  • Manually copy files to Google Drive

  • Manually export other Google Drive files to a backup folder

This can be a bit complicated because the Google Drive download are compressed file of specific folders. I try not to upload files to the same location I download. But worrying too much impacts my sanity. So there are duplicates (extra space is used on the external drives).

Routers & Passwords

Most folks have heard of Botnot's by now. While they could be run from your computer, they can also be run from your router. And back in the day (2010) when routers were first becoming common, some folks never changed passwords nor updated. In fact, PCWorld had the article "Chuck Norris Botnet Karate-chops Routers Hard". It is an interesting real-life example of why you should set a good password on your router.

For those who just want a short synopsis… Just as your computer can get infected, so can routers. So ever wonder why security is important? Its for both your own protection (your computer and router) as well as others out on the web. This particular one infects your router, then looks to infect your own computer as well as attack others on the web. So, even though this targeted routers, the article says your computers (especially Windows users) could also be effected. Either keep your virus protection up-to-date and use a password/change the default password, or don’t use Windows and make sure your security updates are installed.


I hate to admit that I have a Windows 10 machine. But alas I do have a laptop and desktop. I have a rant to post as a blog entry eventually. But for now, here are some things I want to remember.

Always Make A Recovery Drive: One might not realize this is important. One might even make excuses about recovery partitions, etc. But if you've had a hard drive die on you, or if you load lots of different OSes, you will realize that making a recovery USB drive is a necessity.

This USB drive is per system. Another important nuance. The Windows ecosystem still has many systems not sending their drivers to Microsoft. It is a sad state considering where technology is, but I won't rant beyond that statement. I hope.

Well, that didn't last long. It is hard to understand why there are tons of recovery options in Windows 10's settings app, but not the option to create a recovery USB. Most of the searches I've made are look for "Create a recovery drive" in the Start Menu and follow the instructions. That is exactly what Microsoft says too. :-( Anyways, DO IT RIGHT NOW!

Optional Updates: The sad state of Windows eco-system is that one doesn't know if they should trust drivers from Microsoft or from the manufacturer of the device (meaning network card, video card, peripheral, etc). Also, you get a lot of "fly-by-night" manufacturers out there that just throw together their devices & software drivers. Last but not least, it is always better to do updates. Except for the worst fly-by-night folks, but you learn quickly.

Anyways, and there are exceptions, but I try to always use the drivers coming from Microsoft. In System Settings -> Windows Update, there is a button for "Optional Updates". Try each one by itself, and reboot in between each installation. I know it sounds like a pain, but it is safer. If something doesn't work, uninstall it and go find the manufacturer's drivers.