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V201 - Introduction to Virtualization (level 101)

By derekshall at March 21, 2010 10:58
Filed Under: Business, Disaster Recovery, Network, Security, Virtualization

Comin soon an Introduction to Vitualization.

V007 - Creating Your Customized System Image (level 201)

By derekshall at March 20, 2010 15:36
Filed Under: Disaster Recovery, Anti Virus / Spyware, Backup, Storage

In my line of work I regularly set up computers for customers after the purchase. If they are purchased from me they have the advantage of not having any extraneous programs to detract from space or much more importantly, performance.

My preferred method of setting up new computers is oriented to providing best possible performance and also to help with any possible disasters that may happen in the future. The restore image or restore CDs provided with the computer are better than nothing, but they fall a long way short of what the user really needs. More...

V006 - How to disaster proof your network (level 201)

By derekshall at March 18, 2010 13:21
Filed Under: Disaster Recovery, Network, Security, Backup, Server, Storage

For business this article is the culmination of the ‘Safety’ series of articles, the articles describing networks, storage and backups are all leading towards the preparation needed to ensure the safety of your data and network.

Again, in order to best follow this article, it’s best to have read ‘Backups and how they can work for you’. This previous article talks about, “How to disaster proof your workstation’. The preparation needed for each workstation is similar to that described, with a couple of exceptions – or at least strong recommendations. More...

V005 - How to disaster proof your computer (level 201)

By derekshall at March 18, 2010 13:20
Filed Under: Disaster Recovery, Backup

In order to best follow this article, it’s best to have read ‘Backups and how they can work for you’. You’ll then have seen how obsessive I am, not only about backups in general, but also how to use them to keep your computers working as fast as they can and ensure that you can recover very quickly from virus’, broken hard drives etc. More...

V004 - Backups and how they can work for you (level 201)

By derekshall at March 18, 2010 13:18
Filed Under: Disaster Recovery, Backup, Storage

Every time I start writing one of these articles, I seem to start off with a number of definitions, this time is no different.

Let’s start with Backup type:

File by File

This is the traditional type of back, at least until recently, and is what it says. The backup runs through each directory, saving each file within it into (usually) a compressed backup file or archive. It will almost always use compression to save backup space, even though this takes a bit longer to backup. It will often ignore many types of files e.g. .tmp again to save time and space. Until Windows 7 this was the only type of backup that Microsoft allowed natively with the operating system.

Although there are many different type of backup software, usually this type of backup does not allow, a ‘bare metal’ restore. What this means is that before you can restore your specific operating system, you need to have loaded a very basic OS from the original OS CD that came with your computer before you can use your specific backup. The restore from a ‘file by file’ backup is already slow and this the two stage operation makes it much worse.

Disk Image

This type of backup takes an image of the hard drive  (or partition) that you’re backing up and saves it to a compressed image. By default it also omits certain unnecessary files (especially the large hidden ones) to save time. This type of backup is MUCH faster that the File by File and typically would completely backup a 10Gb version of Windows XP in less than 30 mins (depending on the storage medium). It can often be used whilst the computer is still working, usually allowing you to continue working even though it may be a bit slower.

Restores are relatively as fast, and by using special boot CDs the restore can be done to a ‘bare metal’ computer. Windows 7 has now introduced the image backup – however, as is often the case, the version Microsoft allows in it OS is much inferior to 3rd party products on the market.

Which to Use? More...

V100 - Do you need a network? (level 101)

By derekshall at March 18, 2010 11:29
Filed Under: Network, Security, Server

The simple straight forward answer is yes! However, this is no big deal since you’ve very likely already got one. Do you have more than one computer connected to the Internet through a router? If your answer’s yes, then you’re networked and all you have to do is decide how to make the most of it.

A network is a group of computers and other ‘resources’ which, when connected together allow the organization to work more effectively. ‘Resources’ could be many things, for example, printers, scanners, storage, routers or other internet connection devices, and backup devices. The most common network is those computers connected to a router, wired or wireless, to share a single Internet connection. More...

V103 – Types of Storage (level 201)

By derekshall at March 18, 2010 11:27
Filed Under: Security, Server, Disaster Recovery, Storage

Disclaimer: Whilst I’ve tried to give you some of the meanings of the acronyms in the article below – don’t worry about them, the actual words are used so infrequently I had to look some of them up!)

Storage is storage isn’t it? Not these days. Sorry if this starts basic, it will eventually get techy enough to be afforded a ‘201’ status. More...

V104 - Microsoft Small Business Server (level 101)

By derekshall at March 13, 2010 11:29
Filed Under: Business, Microsoft, Network, Server

In previous articles, I’ve described some of the theory of networks and how they can help the small business. Here, I’m going to get more practical and provide an in depth discussion of a particular Microsoft product - Windows Small Business Server - SBS. But first a brief review. More...

V500 - Internet Protocol Primer (level 101)

By derekshall at March 13, 2010 11:23
Filed Under: Network, TCP/IP

Most of you have probably heard of an IP (Internet Protocol) address, but what is it? Basically every computer that’s connected on a network (and the Internet is just one big network) needs to be identified individually. An IP address looks like Each of the blocks of 3 numbers runs from 0 – 255 (to do with binary mathematics, the most basic of computer languages). This means that 4,294,967,296 computers can be addressed individually. Although this seems like a lot, we are rapidly running out of IP addresses. But don’t worry, the Internet won’t break there are a number of things happening: More...

V101 – What are the Different Types of Microsoft Network? (level 101)

By derekshall at March 13, 2010 10:56
Filed Under: Network

Firstly we need to define the concept of a user – that is you, me or anybody who uses a computer. In business, more than one user (person) may ‘use’ or operate a computer. By this we mean not only actually use the keyboard etc. but also have their own username and password to sign on, and once signed on have access to their own data files and documents, which are kept separate from those of other users.

 In the Microsoft world there are two basic types of networks:

·         Peer to peer (also known as workgroups)

·         Domain based networks (also called client / server) More...

Valley Computers and Derek

Derek Hall, owner of Valley Computer Networks, has been in the computer business for over 30 years, working with all aspects of Computer Systems and Networks - for full bio click here.

Valley Computers supports many companies in Napa and Lake Counties. We specialize in the specific needs of small and medium businesses  - these are not that different to those of larger companies, but need to be even more cost effective.

Contact Derek at: derek.hall@valcompnet.com.

Consider this web site not to be a 'how to' blog, but more a 'what to do' blog of best practices, together with enough tech background to make them meaningful. Please let me know if I succeed!

Click here for an overview of the articles presented in sequence for the new reader.