Tag Archives: virtual

Choosing Backup and Recovery Solutions for the Virtual Environment

One of the least popular action words in computing – perhaps not the runaway leader – but it’s up there – backup. 

One of the most expensive undertakings in computing – perhaps not the most expensive – but it’s up there – the painful crisis following a system failure without a – backup.

There’s no need to remind regular readers of the inevitability of a hard drive crash and of the necessity of running with a proactive backup strategy – they get it (I think   Smile  )

But, given the accelerating pace of change in the small business market – most particular in the use of  virtual machines, small business owners may well need a quick refresher in how to implement a strategy which ensure both physical and virtual environments are actively protected.

Here’s a timely guest article from Michael Krutikov, a Product Marketing Manager over at Symantec, in which Michael explains how to get it right.

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imageIn a virtual environment, each host server has the potential to become a single point of failure for business-critical applications. Because of this, businesses need to invest in practically invulnerable backup and recovery solutions that have been specifically designed for the virtual environment – as well as the physical environment.

You could, of course, use one backup and recovery solution for your physical environment and purchase a second for your virtual environment, but that can introduce a whole host of problems that you may not have the time or resources to handle, like the need to manage a second interface, the disruption to your team – who has to learn it – and the cost for a second set of backup hardware and licenses. Instead, most experts recommend streamlining your backup and recovery needs by finding a single solution that protects both environments and will:

  • Provide granular- and application-level recovery. To ensure that you can restore what you need, when you need it, make sure that your backup and recovery solution offers all levels of recovery, including full virtual machine, individual virtual disks, virtualized application & database servers, as well as files, folders and even individual emails. That way, you can get your most critical business components back up and running quickly.
  • Deduplicate (data deduplication is a specialized data compression technique for eliminating duplicate copies of repeating data), across both physical and virtual environments. When you deduplicate data across both the physical and virtual environments, you’re able to not only save large amounts of disk space as compared to compression or single-instance storage, but you can reduce backup storage costs and backup window times, as well.
  • Include storage efficient backup. This improved form of data backup will exclude deleted blocks from a backup to increase your storage efficiency.
  • Automatically convert physical backups to virtual machines. By choosing a backup and recovery solution with this feature, you’re able restore physical servers to virtual machines, and it eliminates the need to have an already-configured, physical server ready to go in case of a failure.
  • Offers physical server and multi-hypervisor support. Because many organizations are running multiple hypervisors, finding a solution that supports them all will simplify your backup complexity, and management – and help reduce your licensing costs.

To ensure that your backup and recovery solution keeps even new virtual machines protected, be sure to look for one that will automatically detect new machines as they come online. That way, your team won’t have to spend time and energy searching for new machines – or editing backup up policies when new applications move to different hosts.

Michael Krutikov is a Product Marketing Manager, supporting Backup Exec since joining Symantec in 2007. With a 14 year career in IT, he now works on marketing partnerships and programs built from thousands of meetings with partners and customers in a constant learning mission to deliver Symantec solutions that can better address their needs.

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Filed under Backup Applications, Guest Writers, Symantec, System Recovery Tools

Paragon Virtualization Manager 12 Compact for FREE! – Save $29.95 On This 3 Day Giveaway

Virtualization is all the rage. With good reason – this very cool technology, if used correctly, has the power to control malware intrusion through the use of a ‘”virtual” environment, rather than operating in a “real” environment.

But, running in a virtual environment, provides an opportunity to do so much more than simply building a buffer between you and the bad guys. Program files, data files, and application directory structures can all be stored on a Virtual Disk Drive.

So, what can you do with Virtualization Manager 12 Compact? As it turns out – quite a lot. To avoid any confusion – this application is a “Virtualization Manager”. You must have virtualization software such as, Oracle VirtualBox 4, Microsoft Virtual PC, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, already installed.

Usage Scenarios – From the site:

Scenario 1: Use different operating systems on one computer.

Virtualization allows parallel use of several incompatible operating systems on one computer. You can run Windows, Linux, Mac OS X inside of virtual machine on one host machine.

Scenario 2: Continue using your old PC’s applications – enjoy your favorite applications in a virtual environment on your new computer.

When it’s time to upgrade to a new PC and operating system, you may find that some of your favorite applications haven’t been updated yet to work with it. Using Virtualization Manager 12 Compact, you can make a virtual clone of your old system before migrating to a new computer. Take advantage of an up-to-date powerful computer while still having access to favorite applications from the old computer.

If your old computer is corrupted but you have a backup image of your old system made with Paragon software – you can virtualize it using Virtualization Manager installed on your new PC.

Scenario 3: Safely evaluate new software.

New software can be unintentionally harmful to your computer. You can easily avoid negative system conflicts by creating a virtual clone of your current physical system using Virtualization Manager 12 Compact.

Try new software in a safe environment and decide whether it works and is exactly what you need before making it a permanent addition to your collection.  If changes made on a virtual machine were successful you can just migrate your updated system from virtual environment to your PC.

Scenario 4: Make a system bootable on different virtual environment.

Virtualization Manager makes your system bootable when migrating to new hardware by automatically injecting the required drivers in your operating system. If you unsuccessfully virtualized your system with a 3rd party tool and it became unbootable, the problem can be resolved with Virtualization Manager.

I have not tested this application extensively (just heard about this free offer this morning) – but, I have installed it and taken it for a quick run. Based on my initial impression I’ll give it high marks for ease of setup, and ease of use. The bottom line – a reasonably solid virtualization manager.

Here’s a quick run through:

In the following example I’ve chosen to create a virtual disk.

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Clicking on this choice opens the “Create Virtual Disk Wizard” as shown below.

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I’ve set the initial size at 5 GB using Microsoft Virtual PC. You can download Microsoft Virtual PC – here.

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Done! How hard was that?

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System requirements: Windows 7 (32/64-bit), Vista (32/64-bit), XP Professional (32/64-bit), XP Home.

Supported Virtual Machines: Oracle VirtualBox 4, Microsoft Virtual PC, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion.

This giveaway offer expires April 20th, 8 am (GMT-4).

How to get Paragon Virtualization Manager: Go to the Paragon Facebook page – click the like button – follow the instructions.

Here’s a sample of the process.

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Special thanks to regular reader Delenn13 for the heads up on this free offer.

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Filed under Giveaways, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging, Software, Virtualization

Free Wondershare Time Freeze 2.0 – Today Only at GOTD (Save $40)

We first reported on Wondershare Time Freeze (Version 1), a relatively new, and easy to use, intrusion prevention system, in June of this year, in our article – For Added Internet Protection – Virtualize Your System with Free Wondershare Time Freeze.

After testing this application for a few days (all that’s required for this type of application), we gave it high marks for ease of setup, ease of use, and most importantly – functionality. The bottom line – a perfect virtualization application for an average user.

Now, Version 2 has been released which includes increased functionality over Version 1. (including 64 bit compatibility).

For a limited time (today only – August 25), the new version of Wondershare Time Freeze, is available at no cost (regular price $39.00 (USD), at the Giveaway of the Day, web site.

To obtain this super program for free – download at Giveaway of the Day, then visit the developer’s site to obtain the license code which will be forwarded to you by email.

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Version 2 Fast Facts:

Consistently Easy, but More Flexible, Effective, Intuitive & Compatible

More flexible switch between virtual system and real system: To enter virtual system, you don’t need to reboot computer; to return to the real system, just exit system protection mode, and you can discard virtual system data or save them to the real system freely.

Auto hide system tray icon: Annoyed by the flashing system tray icon? It is gone in Time Freeze 2.0. You can set to auto hide the tray icon. And just press Alt+Ctrl+F8 to show/hide system tray icon.

Revolutionary new interface: The interface of Time Freeze 2.0 is a new design. It is as easy as that of Time Freeze 1.0, but more intuitive that you will not be lost at any step.

Compatible to 64-bit OS: Time Freeze 2.0 added support to 64-bit Windows 7, XP, Vista and Windows 2000. It is running as stable as always.

Virtual system safeguards real system: Time Freeze creates a virtual environment as a twin (copy) of the real system, on which you evaluate applications, watch online movies, and perform other activities. While the real system is isolated and under protection, you no longer have to worry about attack of viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware, malware and other threats.

MBR protection added in System Protection: MBR protection of Time Freeze 2.0 enhanced protection to the boot sector of hard disk so as to guarantee the normal startup of computer.

Virtual system performance increased 60%: Physical Memory Buffer Mode lets you save virtual system data on physical memory rather than on the hard disk, so as to greatly improve the efficiency and performance of virtual system.

Prolong service life of hard disk: Using Physical Memory Buffer Mode can minimize the frequency of writing/reading hard disk and prolong its service life.

USB stick protection: Prevent virus/malware threats from USB sticks to infect your computer, and prevent authorized users to copy your important files using USB sticks.

Improved software kernel: The software kernel of Folder Protection is rewritten and can bring higher-level defense against viruses, spyware, Trojans, worms and other threats.

Keep protected files safe and clean from malicious threats.

Effectively protect privacy: Prevent unauthorized users from viewing or changing your files.

Flexible protection mode: Time Freeze 2.0 now supports setting different protection mode for different folders, while Time Freeze 1.0 only allows users to set one mode for all protected folders.

Change icon of protection folders: Help you easily manage protected folders.

Password setting: Manage the program with a custom password setting.

Keep inexperienced users from making change to your settings and configures.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Full Versions, Giveaways, Software, Software Giveaways, Utilities, Virtualization, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

For Added Internet Protection – Virtualize Your System with Free Wondershare Time Freeze

image At the end of 2009, many of the premier security application developers projected, that 2010 would see an increase in the the use of virtualization applications.  Specifically, controlling malware intrusion through the use of a ‘”virtual” environment, rather than operating in a “real” environment.

This prediction made sense, and so this year, we’ve focused somewhat more on operating system virtualization. We’ve looked at Shadow Defender, Returnil Virtual System, Sandboxie, GeSWall, and a number of other similar applications.

I’ve just recently completed testing Wondershare Time Freeze, a relatively new and easy to use, free (at the moment),  intrusion prevention system, that is non intrusive, and after initial setup, requires a minimum of user intervention – perfect for the average user.

Installation was hassle free – it was just a matter of  following the on-screen instructions.

The interface is the usual tab and check box layout, and is self explanatory with no learning curve involved.

Timefreeze 2

Once system protection is enabled, a popup reminder will warn you that system changes will not be saved to disk. All downloaded files, all created documents, and all system changes will disappear on reboot. However, you do have another option – see the following.

Timefreeze 1

If you do want to save system changes then, before rebooting, open the application and turn off system protection. You will be warned that your system may “stop responding” for several minutes. In fact, I noticed a lag of less than 20 seconds.

Timefreeze 3

Fast facts:

System protection

Keep the actual system in a constant state, prevent the computer from getting slower and slower with time.

Put the actual system under protection to prevent malicious threats.

Traces of surfing the Internet and computer operation will disappear after reboot. (You have the flexibility to save changes to the actual system.)

Test software and game installations safely on a virtual system.

Folder protection

Mode 1: Disable access to the protected folders.

Mode 2: Prohibit changing files in the protected folders.

Protect your files from being infected by viruses or Trojans.

Protect your privacy more effectively.

Access protection

Manage the program with a custom password setting.

Keep inexperienced users from making changes to your settings and configurations.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7 (32 bit only).

Download at: Wondershare

This test was fairly brief (a couple of days), but I did not encounter any problems, and ran Time Freeze successfully alongside GeSWall with no difficulty. Wondershare Time Freeze worked just as advertized – not always the case with this class of software.

Note: This application requires registration within 30 days in order to keep using it. Getting the registration code though, is a snap. Just click “Get Keycode”, and you’ll receive the registration code by email.

In previous reviews of virtualization applications, a number of readers made mention of Comodo Time Machine, a worthwhile free system restore utility. Popular guest author, Rick Robinette, has a very informative article over on his site, What’s On My PCComodo Time Machine – A Powerful System Restore Utility. I encourage you to read this article.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Run 20 Separate Desktops with Free Dexpot

Guest writer Rick Robinette shows you how to run 20 separate desktops – for free!

You are probably wondering, how is it possible to increase your monitor screen by up to 20 times.  It is possible with Dexpot…

Dexpot

Dexpot is a virtual desktop manager that can be configured to create up to 20 different virtual desktops. The advantage of this concept is that you can work more efficiently with simultaneously opened Windows on different desktops. I could not imagine using 20 separates desktops, but I recently started using Dexpot to manage up to 4 desktops on my PC.

Dexpot

The functionality of this app is amazing. Not only can you create independent desktops, you can configure each of those desktops to have their own independent wallpaper background, screensaver, icons, screen resolution, etc.

You can copy windows from one desktop to another and you can switch desktops via hotkeys, the tray icon, the special “Desktop Manager” or by using an automatic slideshow that automatically goes from one desktop to the other.

You can also select the “Desktop Preview” feature that will tile all of your desktops on your screen to give you an overall view of what’s happening on each desktop.  Another notable feature is the “Windows Catalogue” feature which when selected will tile the windows you have open on the desktop.

If you are a serious multi-tasker, or a fan of virtual desktop managers, you surely do not want to pass this one up. Dexpot is FREE for non-commercial use, is available as a portable app, and will run on just about any Windows based platform ( Windows 95/98/ME and NT4/2000/XP/2003/Vista – incl. x64).

You can read more about Dexpot and download it from [ HERE ].

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

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Filed under Desktop Manager, Freeware, Portable Applications, Timesaving Tips, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Great Introduction to Drawing and Graphic Software – DrawPlus 4 for Free!

serifdrawplus-2.jpgIf you’re looking to get into drawing and graphic software to test your creative skills, then DrawPlus 4 will fill the bill admirably. With this free drawing and graphic package from Serif Software, you can produce vector graphics, high-impact graphics, and even web animations with tools usually only available in high end applications.

DrawPlus 4 is a vector drawing program, like the very expensive CorelDraw, which means the drawing is in editable layers. On top of that, DrawPlus is also a graphics design program that allows you to create logos, high quality print graphics, artwork, drawings, animations, labels and more.

The straightforward and intuitive interface is powerful yet simple, so that first time users, (like me – with no graphic skills), will get the professional quality results they want – fast! I’m told by friends that are users, that this program is great for making avatars; although I haven’t tried this myself.

If you like special effects, DrawPlus 4 is loaded with them, so it’s easy to create high impact text for headlines, logos, banners, Web pages, or wherever your imagination takes you. You can add bitmap, conical, ellipse, plasma, radial and linear fills to your creations to produce spectacular results.

DrawPlus supports industry standard bitmap and vector formats including: JPEG, BMP, EMF, WMF and PNG for the Web.

This application was previously a commercial program (released in 2002, I believe) but it still contains much of the functionality of pricey, newer releases. Serif’s objective in releasing older versions of their current programs is to hopefully have at least some users upgrade to current versions of their software.

Serif describes the features of DrawPlus 4 as follows:

Drawing & Sketching

  • Say goodbye to complicated tools and ‘shaky hand’ drawings. DrawPlus makes drawing simple with easy to use QuickShapes, Natural Curve Editing and Curve Smoothing.

 

Backdrop Wizard

  • Easily add abstract or themed backgrounds to your designs. From dazzling presentation backgrounds to outer-space style backdrops, start your drawings on a ready-made designer canvas.

 

Studio Resources

  • Choose from hundreds of pre-set lines, fills, transparencies, fonts and Wizard elements from the Studio tabs to save you time and still achieve amazing results.

 

Color Selection

  • Apply color fills to backgrounds, shapes and your own drawings from the simple on-screen studio palette.

 

Animation Mode

  • Bring your designs to life with the fun animation tools, which include easy-to-use, yet advanced features like onion skinning, backgrounds, overlays and frame management.

 

Blends

  • Use the blend tool to automatically ‘morph’ two images into one another. You choose the number of steps and let DrawPlus do the rest – easy!

 

Transparency

  • Easily create sparkling photo-like realism and quality in seconds with no experience required.

 

Watermark Wizard

  • A notoriously difficult effect to create is now a total breeze, with a wide range of customizable watermark designs on hand.

 

Border Wizard

  • Choose borders from the extensive library for your objects and pages or let the Border Wizard help you.

 

Color Schemes

  • Define new color sets as shades of a base color, and then simply apply your color scheme to your design instantly by editing the original base color.

 

Editable Envelopes

  • Stretch and squeeze objects or text into whatever shape you choose. Select from the range of special outline shapes or customize your own!

 

Text

  • Create high-impact text for headlines, logos, banners, web pages and more. Convert your text to curves to bring fonts to life.

 

File Size: 19 MB

License: Free

System Requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP

Download DrawPlus 4 for Free at: FreeSerifSoftware

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Filed under DeskTop Publishing, Drawing Software, Freeware, Graphic Software, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools