Sunday, 26 April 2009

Backup your web site using ftp, with archive history and rsync (for free for home use)

I've been looking for a way to automatically backup my web site to my local PC using tools that are free, bandwidth friendly, keep revision history (just in case), easy to use, and can be scripted... I think I've found a system that works: Areca Backup with NetDrive

Areca Backup is a (SourceForge) file backup (with revision management) software that supports incremental, image and delta backup on local drives or remote FTP servers. It also allows you to browse your backups and navigate among different versions of the files contained in your archives.

Areca uses an algorithm which is similar to rsync to detect and handle modified parts of your files. This is where the bandwidth savings come in.... if a large file has been changed, only the modified part of the file is transferred from the server to your PC - it's faster and lighter on bandwidth usage.

But, although Areca can send your backup files to an ftp server for safe storage, I couldn't find a way of making it fetch the files from an ftp server.... until now that is.
I tried various backup programs, but all of them had the same problem - it couldn't have an ftp folder as the source (only the destination).

That's when I found NetDrive: NetDrive mounts remote storage as a local (mapped) hard drive on your PC, allows data transfer using drag and drop files in Windows Explorer, and mounts a mapped drive drive automatically when Windows starts.
With NetDrive, managing your remote FTP and WebDAV servers is as easy as managing any file folders on your PC.
Once you mount the local drive, you don't need to run an application or an FTP client interface.

See here for more of NetDrive's features: http://www.netdrive.net/features.html

NetDrive is a bit slower than TotalCommander’s ftp feature…. but at least it works! So, I’ll use TotalCommander to browse and do file operations, but NetDrive to map a drive for the backup+archive app to use.

Areca can handle the following types of backups:
Full Backup: When a full backup is performed, ALL files are stored in your archive (whether they have been modified or not).
Incremental backup: When an incremental backup is performed, only the files which have been modified since the last backup are stored in your archive.
Differential backup: When a differential backup is performed, only the files which have been modified since the last FULL backup are stored in your archive.

See here for more Areca info:

General info: http://areca.sourceforge.net/ and http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/Back-Up-and-Recovery/Areca-Backup.shtml
Tutorial: http://areca.sourceforge.net/tutorial.php
FAQ: http://areca.sourceforge.net/faq.php


Download Areca Backup from here [5MB, needs Java v1.4.2 or later 15MB]: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=171505&package_id=196003&release_id=677438
Date: 22 April 2009: Areca 7.1 has been released

Download NetDrive from here [8MB]: http://www.netdrive.net/download.html (name and email address is required)

Other product combinations that I looked at (most not free):
VersionBackup: http://www.versionbackup.eu/properties.html
Comparison of Microsoft Sync Toy and RoboCopy: http://ipggi.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/synctoy-the-gui-alternative-to-robocopy/
TitanBackup with GoodSync: http://www.titanbackup.com/features.html http://www.goodsync.com/features.html
WebDrive: http://www.webdrive.com/products/webdrive/index.html



Updated on Sun 26 Apr 2009:
Save all those important files off site @afrihost.com, daily, automatically:
R39 per month for <1gb>
R69 per month for <5gb>
Backup Space, 448 bit Encryption, 128 SSL Cert Transfer, Powered by Attix5, Data Compression, Incremental Backups, Auto Daily Backups, Secret Encryption Key, Data 100% Encrypted, Backs Up Open Files

First backup can be taken on a memory stick - to save on those bandwidth costs (once off fee of R99)
Awesome support and dedicated support team.


See here for more: Afrihost.com - the Best Web Hosting Ever!


Saturday, 25 April 2009

VirtualBox: upgrading from version 2.1 to 2.2 Networking problems

If you've discovered the advantages of creating virtual machines on your host PC then VMware and VirtualBox and Microsoft Virtual PC should be well known to you.
I have just upgraded from VirtualBox v2.1.2 to v2.2.0 and lost network connectivity :(
Thanks to Ben's blog here:
http://ipggi.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/virtualbox-220-upgrade-networking-trouble I was able to quickly sort out the problem....

More info on Virtual PCs:
VMmare and VirtualBox and Virtual PC are all virtual machine software suites. They allow you to run a "virtual" or guest operating system inside your main operating system.
So you could run Windows XP as your main operating system while running Linux or Vista in a separate window on your desktop.

By example, a Linux user could run a Windows XP guest system and use Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I mainly use virtual machines for learning or testing. It allows me to play with and test applications on other operating systems. It also allows me to test new applications from
GiveAwayOfTheDay or games from GameGiveAwayOfTheDay without worrying that they will affect my "real" computer.

See here for more info on virtualisation: http://www.vmware.com/technology/virtualization.html

See here for a comparison on VMware and VirtualBox: http://marsbox.com/blog/reviews/vmware-vs-virtualbox

Downloads:
{Note the varying sizes of each}
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/virtualpc/default.mspx 63 MB
http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads 65 MB
https://www.vmware.com/tryvmware/?p=default 58 MB

Friday, 24 April 2009

Live election results 2009

Live election results (thanks News24).
Use your mouse to hover over the provinces
Toggle between National and Provincial results using the buttons at the top of the frame.



Thursday, 23 April 2009

Help confirm if ""Guns really cause crime?"

Please help confirm whether ""Guns really cause crime?" by logging in and watching this WebCam....



http://montego.roughwheelers.com/gun_cam.html



Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Calculator: The Pool Calculator: how much of what should you pour in to your pool to get it to sparkle?

If you ever needed to figure out (say) how much acid to pour into your pool so that the PH would be adjusted to the ideal? Well, The Pool Calculator (by Jason Linhart) can help you do that, and much, much more....

Simply enter your pool's size and pool surface, then configure your goals, change the units to metric, then you're on your way to getting those answers.

Enter your current chemical levels (test results) and The Pool Calculator tells you how much of each chemical to add to keep your water in balance.

There's even an iPhone app that you can purchase here:
http://www.apptism.com/apps/pool-calculator
or here:
http://download.cnet.com/Pool-Calculator/3000-18495_4-10911482.html

Available calculations include:
- FC = Chlorine
- pH: Raising and lowering
- TA = Total Alkalinity
- CH = Calcium Hardness
- CYA = Stabilizer or cyanuric acid
- Salt
- Borate (Borax)
- CSI = Calcium Saturation Index (similar to LSI = Langelier Saturation Index)
- Recommended ranges for each chemical level
- Volume

See here for a detailed description of each parameter:
http://www.poolcalculator.com/chemistry.html

Here's a step-by-step guide to using the calculator:
1) Change the "units of measure" (top right of the screen)
2) Go to the bottom of the screen, to the "Estimating pool volume" section to calculate the amount of water in your pool. Enter the width, length (average) depth and shape of your pool. This will calculate the number of litres.
3) Take this number and go to the top of the screen and put it into the "Size" of the pool
4) Go to the "Suggested Goal Levels" section (at the bottom of the table) and choose which suggested goal levels you would like to use (Traditional or TroubleFreePool.com's goals. This will set different goal values and adjust the amount of chemicals so that your pool's water reaches those goals. Suggested goal levels will be displayed for FC, pH, TA, CH, and CYA. Suggested goals are simply a starting point. There are many situations that are not covered by these basic guidelines.
5) Your calculator is now set up and in the next steps you can enter the current chemical levels and The Calculator will give you the amounts of chemicals to pour in so that the goals are attained.
For example, if your pH level is 8.0, and the ideal is 7.5 to 8, then you should add 500ml of dry acid.

Note: SWG - Salt Water Chlorine Generator

Monday, 20 April 2009

How to block your own PC from skewing your site’s Google Analytics statistics

So, your web site is live and you're making small tweaks here and there and connecting to your site to test the changes - but you don't want your own PC to skew your site’s Google Analytics statistics… ie: you want to see how many "real" hits your site is attracting.
Here are 2 tricks that should assist you:

Method 1 relies on installing and configuring firewall software on your PC;
Method 2 involves editing the Windows hosts file.

Method 1: A crude way of blocking access to the Google Analytics site – so that you don't clock up hits would be to configure a firewall on your PC to prevent connections to the whole
www.google-analytics.com domain.

I have tried it with the free
Comodo Internet Security (which is a free bundle of a firewall and virus protection) and configured the firewall part to have a “blocked network zone” -> and added the “host name”: www.google-analytics.com
{and google-analytics.com}


This will then block ALL traffic from your PC to the www.google-analytics.com site. {That’s why I said that it’s “crude”}

The page will load, but appear to wait for a connection to complete – that’s the browser trying to connect to www.google-analytics.com

Download from here:
http://personalfirewall.comodo.com/download_firewall.html

Note: it’s a bit of a pain to start with because it’s got to learn which apps are safe - so it pops up and asks you if an app or connection is safe. To start with, I put it in “learning mode”.


Method 2: You could add google-analytics.com and www.google-analytics.com both as 127.0.0.1 to the windows host file as follows:
Edit the 'hosts' file: edit %SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
and add the following 2 lines:
127.0.0.1 google-analytics.com
127.0.0.1 www.google-analytics.com

Save the file and voila - all traffic destined for google-analytics will get routed to your local PC!

I prefer method 2 (although installing a firewall and learning how to use it is not a waste of time!)

Let me know which method works best for you?

Update:
Here's Method 3 which I found on the Google Analytics help page - so I guess it's the preferred option ;) but method 2 above is simpler.
From here: https://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55481&ctx=sibling

In summary,
if you have a fixed IP address (or range) then use Google Analytic's "filter" that will "filter all traffic from an IP address".
if you have a dynamic IP address (ie: using an ADSL line) then create a filter that will exclude traffic by Cookie content.

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Copyright © 2008 HandyTechTipper. All articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 South Africa license, unless where otherwise stated.