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This is the Definitive Best Back-up Software 2021 official thread and covers free and commercial backup software, as well as those built into or bundled with operating systems. Use this as a starting point for researching back-up software.
The 2020 thread can be found here.
If your choice of a back-up solution is not listed, please choose the appropriate Other option(s) and specify in the comments. The poll is multiple choice, so if you use more than one solution, you can check all of them, be sure to mention which ones you use in the comments.
By Usama Jawad96
Here are the five biggest tech surprises of 2020
by Usama Jawad
2020 is almost done and dusted which means that now's a good time to take a look back at some of this year's highlights. In this week, we have already looked at some of the coolest tech innovations and disappointments of 2020. Today, we are going to revisit some of the biggest surprises that were delivered to us in the tech landscape this year.
These surprises refer to products, services, or events that landed upon us without any prior warning and caught us off-guard, fortunately or unfortunately. Needless to say, this is a list based on personal preferences, so maybe some of the items mentioned here won't be as surprising or momentous for you as they were for us. With that out of the way, let's begin!
1 - Microsoft buys ZeniMax Media
Without a doubt, one of the biggest gaming-related news that graced us this year, and it's equally surprising that Microsoft managed to keep it a secret until it was made official. The company, which has faced a lot of criticism in the past few years for its lackluster Xbox exclusives, finally decided to remedy the situation starting this year. The secret ingredient? Buying ZeniMax Media for a whopping $7.5 billion on September 21.
If you're unfamiliar with the name, it's the firm that owns high profile game development studios such as Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. This essentially brings numerous popular franchises under Microsoft's first-party umbrella, including Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, Prey, Quake, and Starfield. It also means that the Xbox Game Studios family has now grown from 15 to 23.
This was a major power move from Microsoft which had been struggling against high-quality PlayStation exclusives as well as the exclusivity deals that Sony has been striking with third-party developers.
While Microsoft stated that it would honor existing agreements of bringing games from these studios like Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo to the PlayStation 5, Xbox head Phil Spencer said that the company does not need to put games on PlayStation to recoup its $7.5 billion purchase. He had previously also confirmed that the release of titles from these studios on other platforms would be decided on a case by case basis.
While this has caused some worry in the PlayStation camp, this is good news for Xbox players, as this acquisition means that they will be able to enjoy upcoming games from ZeniMax Media like the highly anticipated The Elder Scrolls VI on Game Pass on day one without paying an additional cent.
2 - Carl Pei leaves OnePlus
From left to right: Akis Evangelidis, Pete Lau, Carl Pei This is yet another piece of news that caught everyone by surprise back in October when the public face and co-founder of OnePlus Carl Pei suddenly left the company after seven years at the helm. In fact, it is still very much unclear why Pei made this decision, but some reports have indicated that it was likely due to an internal power struggle with the other co-founder Pete Lau.
Carl Pei is best known for being the co-founder of OnePlus alongside Pete Lau back in 2013. The company's first product, the OnePlus One, was highly anticipated for its flagship specifications at a price point that was roughly half that of the competition. The device went on sale at online storefronts in April 2014 and managed to sell over one million units before the end of the year, surpassing its 50,000 units sold target with aplomb.
A recent report has indicated that the executive has now raised $7 million in a seed funding round in his latest hardware-related venture. Not much about this endeavor is known yet, but rumors hint that it is an audio-related endeavor that will see Pei set up an office in London. We'll likely learn more on this front in 2021.
3 - Google getting rid of free unlimited Photos backup
File this under disappointing, but Google announced in November that it is making major changes to storage policies tied to Photos. Primarily, it is doing away with the free unlimited high-quality backups for Photos users, which means that once users hit the 15GB Drive cap, they will need to purchase a storage plan to backup more photos.
While the change in policy will be in effect from June 1, 2021, its sudden announcement last month earns it a spot on this list. After June of next year, users will have a total of 15GB of free storage for data from Drive, Gmail, and Photos.
The change has likely been introduced to encourage more users to upgrade to Google One plans and monetize the Photos backup feature. The entry-level tier starts at $1.99 per month for 100GB of storage. Users that rely heavily on free Photos backups have little more than six months before the policies change, so make sure to check out our handy guide here about how to optimize your storage strategy.
4 - Microsoft quietly cancels its 95% revenue sharing program
Amidst much fanfare and appreciation, Microsoft announced at Build 2018 that it is introducing a new revenue split program under which developers can earn as much as 95% of the revenue from sales from the Store, as long as customers discovered the app through the developer's own promotion. At that time, both Google and Apple provided 60% of revenues to developers, which made Microsoft's offer all the more enticing.
However, it wasn't until March 2019 that Microsoft finally added this change to its developer agreement. This proved to be a very short-lived modification as numerous developers discovered in January 2020 that the company had quietly updated the document again to revoke this offer, and was now offering the standard 85%, also announced at Build 2018 for apps which are discovered using promotion offered by the Redmond tech giant.
To Microsoft's credit, it only canceled the offer due to lack of participation from developers. In a statement to Neowin, the company told us that "due to the small number of developers that took advantage of the 95% revenue share, we’ve made changes to streamline the experience for developers and offer a consistent 85% model". The attractive but apparently not-enough-used program died a quiet death nine months after formal initiation.
5 - Google's massive global outage
Most of you - especially those who rely heavily on Google services - will be able to vividly recall the day when Google faced a global outage earlier in December. The issue affected numerous services including Gmail, YouTube, Drive, News, Translate, Ads, Domain, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) among others.
Millions of people around the globe were unable to access the aforementioned services properly, with no indication from the company as to what was causing the problem, other than Google saying that it was looking into it.
After roughly one hour of the outage - in which people vented about centralized services in meltdown on social media platforms or asking if Google has been hacked - the firm finally managed to fix the issue, and services were slowly restored for users. Google later issued an apology stating that the mishap was due to an "internal storage quota issue" and that it will ensure that it doesn't occur again in the future.
The specific incident is significant because it showed how heavily people are invested in Google services, where a one-hour downtime halted their daily routines and usual activities. This was also the first outage of this extent for Google services, and here's to hoping it doesn't happen again in 2021.
Those were our top picks for tech incidents that caught us off-guard. Are there any others that you think deserve to be on this list and we may have missed? Let us know in the comments section below!
How to backup your files and reinstall Windows 10 with recovery media
by João Carrasqueira
Earlier this week, we shared a guide on how to create recovery media for your Windows 10 PC. That guide went over the process of backing up your device drivers and creating a recovery flash drive you can use to install Windows, which are the essential aspects to have a functional machine after the process.
This time, we're going to share how to go through the actual recovery process, including backing up your personal files so you can get them back after you reinstall Windows. We'll be focusing on a completely clean installation of Windows, but the process should be similar if you're using an OEM-specific recovery drive.
Backing up your data
The first thing you'll want to do is back up your data so you don't lose any of your files in the process of restoring your system. There's no shortage of ways you can go about it depending on your usage preferences. If you only have a handful of files you need to keep, you can copy them manually to a flash drive or upload them to the cloud. However, there are a couple of solutions built into Windows you can use if you'd like to.
Option 1 - Backup with OneDrive
If you use OneDrive, you can set up a backup on OneDrive, which includes your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders. To set this up, you can open the Settings app, then choose Windows & Security. From here, open the Backup section. Here, choose Back up files under Back up files to OneDrive. A window will pop up so you can choose which folders to back up.
Of course, there are some things to keep in mind with this option. Only these three folders can be backed up, and even then, you need to have enough storage left on OneDrive and a fast internet connection for the backup process to go over smoothly and relatively fast.
Option 2 - Backup to an external drive
If you'd rather do it locally, there's another option, which is File History. This option is a bit more comprehensive, and it works locally, which might be a better option. Just like with the OneDrive option, you can access File History by opening the Settings app, heading into Update & Security, then Backup.
In this case, we're interested in the second section, Back up using File History. At this point, you'll need to have an external drive plugged in, such as a flash drive or external HDD or SSD, and make sure it has enough space to store everything you want to back up. Click Add drive and select the device you want to use to back up your data.
Once you select the drive you want, an automatic backup will be enabled with some default folders. Click More options to check the backup settings. You can add or remove folders from the backup, or exclude certain folders from being backed up if, for example, you want to backup everything inside a folder excluding a specific sub-folder. You can set up regularly scheduled backups if you want to keep your data safe at all times, but if you're just preparing for a clean install, you can click Back up now to back up your data as is. You do need to make sure the drive has enough space for the backup, which will vary based on what you're backing up.
Once the backup is done, you may want to cancel future backups so Windows doesn't try to repeat it inadvertently. You do this by clicking the Stop using drive button at the bottom of the page, which won't delete your existing backup. Of course, you can always keep it if you want regular backups to be done.
Using recovery media to install Windows
Once you've created recovery media for your PC using any of the methods in our guide, all that's left to do is use it to start the recovery process. This will delete the data on your PC, so make sure to backup up your data first. To boot from the flash drive you want to use as recovery media, the easiest method is the Advanced startup menu in Windows 10. Open the Settings app, choose Update & Security, then Recovery. Here, click Restart now under Advanced Startup.
When the computer restarts, you'll be presented with a very blue screen with some boot options. You'll want to choose Use a device, then find the drive you used as a recovery drive. The computer will restart again and begin the recovery process.
On older computers, you may need to press a certain key, such as F12 or Esc, to open the boot options menu while the computer is booting up. You'll also need to do this if your computer can't boot into Windows. Each brand uses a different key to access this menu, and some have changed over time, so if F12 or Esc don't work for you, try to find out what specific key your computer uses.
Option 1 - Using a clean installation of Windows
After booting into the installation media, you may see a warning about whether you want to upgrade or do a clean install. Click No to go forward with the clean install and follow the on-screen instructions to choose your language and regional configurations and then choose Custom: Install Windows only (advanced). You'll then see a list of local drives on your PC.
You can choose to format each of the available partitions or drives, or you can delete all the partitions and create a new one for the installation. You'll have to select a drive labeled as Primary as the install location, then click Next and wait for the process to finish. You'll then be taken to the Windows out-of-the-box experience (OOBE) to set up your computer.
Option 2 - Using a Windows recovery drive
If you created a recovery drive using option 3 from our previous guide, the process is a bit more straightforward. Once you boot into the recovery drive you'll get the option to choose your region and keyboard layout, and then you'll see a similar menu to the boot options menu from before. This time, you'll have an extra option, Recover from a drive, which is what we want to choose here.
After this, simply choose whether you want to simply delete the files or fully clean the drive, and confirm to begin the recovery process. Once it's done, you'll go through the usual setup process for Windows 10, just as with the method above. Finish it up and you should be taken to your desktop environment.
If you used OEM-specific solutions, accessing the recovery drive should be similar, but the process itself will vary. Follow the instructions from the OEM to complete the recovery and you should be ready to go.
Recovering your data and drivers
Once you've set up Windows 10, you may want to get your drivers back, specifically if you used a plain Windows 10 installation drive. If you used our guide to back up your drivers, you can plug in the drive where you saved them and open the Device Manager. To do this, right-click the Start menu icon or press the Windows key + X, then choose Device Manager.
If any drivers are missing, you'll see a warning sign next to the affected device(s). Double-click the device name to open its Properties, then switch to the Driver tab and click Update Driver. Choose the Browse my computer for drivers option, then find and select the root folder containing all your backed up drivers. Make sure to check the box that says Include subfolders, and Windows will find the right driver for each device.
Repeat this for any drivers that may be missing, and you should be ready to go.
As for your personal files, again, there's plenty of options to copy them back to your PC. If you used the OneDrive method (option 1 above) to back them up, simply enabling OneDrive sync again will make the backed up files show up in the proper folder, so you can just choose to save them offline to access them at any time.
If you used the File History feature (option 2), plug in the drive you used for the backup, head back into the Settings app, choose Update & Security, then Backup. Click More options under Back up using File History and then Restore files from a current backup. Choose the latest backup and your files should be restored to their respective folders.
And that's it! If you followed all the steps in both of our guides, you should now have a fully functioning computer again, and everything should be in its rightful place.
Have you tried to recover a Windows PC before? Did you find this guide useful? Let us know how it went in the comments below!
Bvckup 2 Release 81.7
by Razvan Serea
Bvckup 2 is a mirroring data backup software notable for its use of delta copying, speed of operation, small resource footprint and a "beautifully functional" user interface. The software replicates files from one location to another in their original format and purposefully does not include options for compressing or encrypting them. It does however include a comprehensive list of supporting features including periodic and real-time backup scheduling, removable device tracking and shadow copying support. Ideal for making local backups, backups going to external and removable drives as well as to NAS devices.
Bvckup 2 features:
Real-time, scheduled and manual backups Very fast, delta file copying Excellent user interface Backup of locked files with shadow copying Removable device tracking Move/rename detection Windows XP and newer Full 64-bit support Run-as-a-service mode Symlink and junction support Ownership, group and DACL copying Fully asynchronous I/O Multi-core processing where required Optimized throughout for no run-time bloat Software update notifications Bvckup 2 Release 81.7 changelog:
Added an option for discarding delta state based on its age or usage. It is now possible to have files re-copied in full after they were delta-copied either a certain number of times or for a certain amount of time. See https://bvckup2.com/support/forum/topic/1358 for configuration details and https://bvckup2.com/wip/06092020 for screenshots. Fixed an issue with bi-monthly backup scheduling. Fixed a couple of typos in backup log messages. Download: Bvckup 2 Release 81.7 | 2.5 MB (Free trial)
View: Bvckup 2 Home Page | Discounts | Release Notes
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By News Staff
Save 50% off the price of Zinstall FullBack Computer Backup license
by Steven Parker
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FullBack Light automatically backs up your files Keep your backup on a USB external hard drive, network drive, Cloud storage such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Amazon, or even your computer itself Backup is 100% protected from ransomware virus attacks Easy installation in 5 minutes & automatic backup starts Good to know
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