backup

My Geeked Out Road Warrior Survival Pack

I've built up a respectible arsenal of gadgets and devices while logging almost 200,000 miles in frequent flier miles this year.

Some are necessities, and some are just for fun. Some are just to keep my sanity on longer trips like the one I'm taking this week to Cologne, Germany.

My geeked out road warrior survival pack includes everything from a lithium-ion battery pack that gives my iphone 2 extra charges, to a sleek pair of noise canceling Bose headphones that block out the majority of jet airplane engine noises.

It also makes a great Christmas shopping list for the business traveler or technology addict in your life ;-)

Here's my Letterman's countdown of top ten must-have gadgets when traveling for business or pleasure:

10. Starbuck's Via 3-pack. Technology aside... Let's face it - hotel room coffee tastes horrible no matter what brand they use.

I really need a good cup of coffee to start the day off right (especially for east coast trips where it feels like I'm getting up at 4 a.m.) and these instant coffee packs from Starbucks are just as good as the real thing. You can get hot water from just about anywhere, including an in-room coffee maker without the coffee grounds.

9. iPod nano with armband. Yes, I have an iPhone too (see #1 below) but a small ipod is more convenient for working out, and also provides more hours of music for helping long flights go by faster.

8. Camera. I bring my Nikon D50 DSLR camera along with a 300mm zoom lens when I want to be sure and capture the city views in high quality (and I usually have some time after business hours for touring the city).

How to copy the contents of one hard drive to another

Question: I have a computer with a 20GB drive and would like to install a 80GB drive that I have, as the 20GB drive has under 1GB remaining. Can I use imagining software to copy all Programs, files, and folders (including system files) from the old drive to this bigger drive, and make it be the startup drive? What would be the best software for me to use?

Answer: Yes, you can copy the contents of one hard drive to another, as long as the drive you're copying to is as large or larger than the old drive, and as long as you have the right software. You can even copy installed programs and the operating system over to the new drive, so you don't need to spend money on another Windows license or worry about re-installing programs.

Both hard drives will need to be connected to your motherboard using a standard IDE cable. Two hard drives can be connected with the same IDE cable - just make sure that the old drive (master) is connected to the first available connector slot, and the new drive (slave) is connected to the middle slot on the cable.

You'll need a software program to copy over the old hard drive's contents to the new hard drive, also known as "ghosting" or "disk imaging".

I'll discuss 2 disk imaging programs in this article - one that's both a ghosting program and a backup program, and another lighter-weight solution that only handles disk copying (and is more affordable too).

Norton Ghost

Norton Ghost is a well known and trusted program that will duplicate your old drive directly to another drive.

Norton's step-by-step wizards make it easy to copy the contents of your old drive to your new hard drive, even if you're not super technical or very good with computers.

How to back up your iPod

Question: I just lost my ipod that had a ton of songs on it. So now I have to buy those songs all over again and load them on my new ipod! Is there a way for me to backup these songs I'm buying, so that if my ipod goes belly up again then I won't lose my music investment?

Answer: Wow, sorry to hear that you lost all those tunes - that can be really expensive!

iTunes does have a built-in backup feature, but it requires you to use a recordable CD for each album. You can access this feature by selecting the songs you want to back up, and then selecting the "File" - "Back Up To Disc" menu in iTunes.

That'll convert your mp3 songs to audio format that you can play from a CD or DVD player, but you'll burn through a LOT of discs for several gigs of music files that live on most ipods.

A more ideal solution would be to back up all of your ipod music to a single location on your computer, and preferably an external hard drive.

MediaPilot has a slick backup feature that lets you backup all of your ipod music to a single location on your hard drive. No recordable CDs or DVDs are needed with this approach either.

Here's how it works.

  1. Plug your ipod into your computer using the regular data cable, which should start itunes.
  2. Download a copy of MediaPilot, install it and run it on your system.
  3. Select the Tools - iPod File Backup menu.
  4. Choose a backup folder location and identify how you'd like the backup folders to be organized.

How to Backup Copy-Protected DVD Movies

Question: I have a few DVD movies that I'd like to copy for backup purposes, and would also like to view them on my laptop when I go on business trips. The software that came with my laptop isn't able to do it though - it says the DVDs are copy-protected. Is there an easy way to do this?

Answer: You'd think it would just be a simple matter of plugging the DVD into the DVD drive on your computer, and clicking a "Create Backup Copy" menu somewhere in Windows Explorer (or in the Finder for Mac users). It turns out however that copy-protection and encryption on commercial DVD movies have made it a lot harder than that.

Your operating system will not let you make backup copies of your favorite copy-protected commercial DVD movies without the help of third-party software programs. You'll also most likely need to find software made outside the United States. Thanks to some confusing legislation, and the fear of copyright law suits in the states, companies like Roxio, Nero, and others have removed the ability to copy commercial DVDs.

Is it legal?

If you're intentions are to copy your DVDs and sell them for profit, then you're clearly violating copyright laws and will be subject to fines or imprisonment if caught.

But what about making backup copies of your own DVDs that you paid for? I'm not a lawyer, so I recommend that you read the copyright laws for your country and decide for yourself what's legal and what's not. Personally I found them confusing at best, and conflicting with regards to fair usage laws that should allow me to protect my personal property by making backup copies of my own DVDs.

I'm a firm believer in the right to protect your own personal property. For DVDs that means being able to burn backup copies to your heart's content, provided they're for your own personal viewing (ie. you aren't selling them or using them to make a profit).

The search for a good DVD Ripper and Burner

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