Jun 14

I realize this may not be something the typical user would ever need to do, but if you ever test transfer speeds for personal or professional reasons, you’ll need a test file of a specific size in order to get an accurate measurement.  I often test USB drive, hard drive, smartphone, and even PC to PC file transfer speeds, which I do with a 500MB or 1GB file, depending on the situation.The Command Line

And you can easily create these test files in Windows using the command line.  Here’s how:

Open the Command Prompt by going to Start > Accessories > Command Prompt, or by typing CMD in the Start Menu search field (Windows Vista and 7).  In Windows Vista and 7, you’ll need to run Command Prompt as an administrator (right-click Command Prompt, then select Run as administrator). 

Once at the Command Prompt, type the following line and press Enter:

fsutil file createnew XXXXXXX YYYYYYY

Where XXXXXXX is the filename and YYYYYYY is the file size in bytes.  So, if you needed a 1GB file named Test1GB, you’d type:

fsutil file createnew Test1GB 1073741824

The test file will be created in the folder shown; for example, if C:\Windows\System 32\ is displayed (as it is above), the file will be created in the System 32 subfolder of the Windows folder on the C drive.  You can then navigate to the folder using Windows Explorer and move the file to the location you wish.

Since the test file size must be defined as bytes, you’ll need to know the number of bytes in the number of megabytes or gigabytes you wish the test file to be.  An easy way to find this information is to use Google.  Just type 1 gigabyte into bytes, for example, into a Google search field and you’ll be given the correct number of bytes in a gigabyte:

Google Calulator

Happy testing!


Feb 14

Network Attached Storage - NASIf you have a home network with multiple computers and other connected devices (smartphones, tablets, game consoles, media players, etc.), you probably also have files you’d like to easily share between them.  From music, video and photos to plain old data files like Word and Excel documents, data sharing can be an incredibly convenient tool.

Most home users access files between systems by sharing a drive or folder on one computer, then connecting to that shared location from another.  And for light data sharing this is absolutely fine.  But if you’re a more demanding shareoholic with gigabyte upon gigabyte of files to share across multiple systems, there’s a much better way:

Network Attached Storage, or NAS.

A Network Attached Storage drive is a hard drive like any other, except instead of connecting to computer via USB or SATA, a NAS connects directly to your network hub (usually a wireless router) via Ethernet cable.  Once connected, this drive is accessible over the wired or wireless network by any computer or supported device on that network.

Say, for example, you have a large iTunes library spread across multiple PCs and/or Macs.  Using a compatible NAS, you can forget trying to keep each computer’s individual iTunes library up-to-date with your latest downloads and CD rips; NAS allows you to centralize the data files so that each computer always has access to the complete library, and new additions are instantly updated and accessible for every computer on the network. 

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Feb 02

Did You Back Up?Mozy (a Pocket PC Central advertiser) has announced that it will no longer offer an unlimited backup plan to its new customers. New capped plans have been put in place, starting at $5.99 for 50GB of storage.  Current customers on the unlimited plan will continue to enjoy the feature until it’s time to renew – then, it’s goodnight Irene to all you can eat backup – at least on Mozy. 

But don’t expect Mozy to be alone in this move.  As hard drives grow ever larger (there are now 3TB internal hard disks), users have less reason to conserve space by deleting files. And as video rips become higher in quality, and digital cameras capture more and more (often useless) megapixels, users’ media libraries are exploding in size.  Expansive storage trends at lower prices are great for consumers, but a nightmare for online backup providers.

Is it only a matter of time before Mozy’s largest competitor, Carbonite (also an advertiser), follows suit?  That company already caps file size and bandwidth, but continues to offer unlimited backup. 

The good news is that you can continue under new caps with reduced pain.  Simply prioritize what you backup, delete or burn-to-disc files you probably won’t ever need or want, and keep your system as free of bloat as possible.  While this can be a chore, it will not only help with you exist in a new world of online backup caps, it’ll also make your system more responsive.


Dec 29

Mozilla ThunderbirdJune 2012: I wrote this article a year and a half ago, and I continue to receive email from users about backing up and restoring Thunderbird.  I’ve updated the article with some of the excellent questions raised. I hope it continues to be of help.  Thanks for writing!


December 29, 2010: Mozilla’s Thunderbird is arguably the best free email client available.  I use it daily for my non-webmail POP and IMAP needs and it has served me well for years.  But one important feature the application lacks is a way to easily backup and restore its data files, or to move them to a new location altogether (a second hard drive, new folder, etc.)

Because this functionality is missing from Thunderbird, backing up, restoring or moving its data files must be done manually, and for many users this seems a daunting task.  But it’s not so tough – all that’s required is a basic understanding of how Thunderbird manages files, where they’re stored, and how the application accesses them.

In this post, I’ll cover how to backup and restore Thunderbird’s data files, and how to move them to a new storage location on your PC.

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