Clouds and silver linings

The past few weeks in these parts have been really hectic from the technological point of view.

First, I stopped my lost credit card and was unable to access my Internet banking facility. Then I was without a computer for most of a week and, having decided to take the opportunity to install Windows 7, I spent another week finding and installing all my favourite software packages, and getting to know Windows 7’s particular quirks.

Just when I thought I was home and dry, my beautiful 19-inch Fujitsu Siemens flatscreen monitor started making an odd clicking sound. The display began to flicker and pulsate and this was followed shortly afterwards by blackness and total screen-death.

So, not a happy time and I promised myself that I would never let an interruption on this scale happen to me again. Not that there will ever be a situation where computer hardware doesn’t fail, but I decided to do what I could to reduce the impact on me when it does.

At the time of writing, my new screen hadn’t arrived and I was working on a borrowed 14-inch monitor and wondering how we all coped when larger screens were very uncommon, and pricey.

Anyhow, back to the point; my first priority was to find a way to back up vital files so that I can access them in the event that my main computer is ever unavailable. I remembered that I had signed up for Windows Live Sky Drive, which gives you 25 GB of free Internet storage space for storing files.

This sounded like just the job for me and I decided to go and have a look to see if I could find a program which would automate the process of backing up files to Sky Drive.

I can’t remember the exact phrase I typed into Google but it was something like ‘automatic backup Sky Drive’ and one of the websites it found was for a program called Gladinet Cloud Desktop.

It turns out that Gladinet is a very powerful little program which makes it easier to connect to a variety of online (cloud) storage services on the Internet including Sky Drive, Google Docs and even a conventional FTP server. There is a paid version of Gladinet but there is also a free one with a lot of features.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Gladinet, it’s easy to select the particular storage service that you want to use and plug in your username and password. You then have two different ways of transferring files to the storage space, or accessing files already stored there.

The first one is to select the particular service or services that you want to use, like Sky Drive, and select the option to mount it. Sounds a bit ominous I know, but all it means is that the storage location then appears in Windows Explorer as another disk drive, allowing you to drag files to and from it.

The second option, available in the paid professional version and in a limited way in the free version, is to create an Online Backup Task, which is basically a stored instruction to copy files that you select into the cloud storage area. The first time you do this, it can take quite a while, depending on the number of files of course. The process speeds up on subsequent occasions because Gladinet only copies new files and ones that have changed.

I’ll need more experience to sit in final judgement of Gladinet Cloud Desktop but, so far, it’s looking pretty good. I’m certainly feeling better that my vital accounts files, encrypted password list and story files are stored in Sky Drive, where I could access them from any computer with an Internet connection.

One aspect that makes me even more confident about Gladinet is that it only took an hour or two for their support staff to get back to me after I e-mailed them some questions. Many companies take days to reply, if they ever get around to it.
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** Disclaimer: I do not accept payment in cash or kind for software reviews but, during the review, I did receive a complimentary product key from Gladinet to enable me to test the paid, or professional version, of the software.

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3 thoughts on “Clouds and silver linings

  1. Hi Hilton. Gladinet does allow you to select the files/folders you want to back up and it does allow you to exclude files amongst those on a number of of criteria. I cannot find any data compression feature but I would think that’s to be expected, seeing that the software only controls your end of things, and not the target drive. You’d need software running on the target drive to unpack the files. That being said, there’s nothing stopping you zipping your files first, and then backing them up. Allan.

  2. Hello Alan (Or is it Allan? I have seen numerous different variations on the theme, as it were)

    After reading your article “Save yourself from that crash” I thought I might give a gratuitous plug for One2backup (totally biased, perhaps, but this is something I really believe in and really would like you to know about…)

    In light of your odd clicking sounds that have been emanating from your PC, you obviously have an interest in protecting your data, and I see your sought solace in the Gladinet Cloud/Windows Sky Drive. All well and good and I wouldn’t want to resort to used car dealership-esque ethics- free sales tactics to knock it. I would however, like to show you how great One2backup’s software is, you can take a look at http://www.one2backup.com, and play around with a free trial if you wish. Basically the software is easy to use, and has been designed by a South African for the South African market. I don’t intend this as a slight on any of us, but a lot of South African businesses are of the small to medium variety, and possibly dont have the ability nor the desire to employ a full time IT techie who can make sure that their data is being backed up correctly. The software will allow you to back up as much or as little as you like, with no complex user or license fees. Sadly, as with most (not neccesarily the best) things in life, it’s not free, but it is next to nothing, from R40.00 per GB. To be honest I would rather pay to store my data and make sure it’s heavily encrypted. Maybe it’s my phobic side rearing itself but I don’t entirely trust throwing my data into the (seemingly untraceable) ether.

    As it’s a medium sized (Durban based) company with big dreams, we pride ourselves on getting back to our customers and going the extra proverbial mile.

    Hopefully we might even help you on your road to data safety. contact me on the number on the website if you’d like to get hold of me.

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