Surviving a PC Meltdown: Syncing With SugarSync, Restoring From Mozy

I seem to be living in a technology Bermuda Triangle. Two weeks ago my media-center PC died suddenly, and two days ago my primary desktop went belly up. Sure, I was able to switch over to my laptop and get back to work, but for the time being my data was trapped inside the defunct desktop. At least, it would have been trapped, if not for my secret weapon: SugarSync.

Like Dropbox and similar services, SugarSync provides me with "magic folders" that automatically sync to online servers. Thus, every Word document I save to one of those folders is quickly, quietly, and securely copied to the cloud.

Likewise, because I have SugarSync on my laptop, that same data gets downloaded to folders there. So although I still have stuff I need to rescue from my desktop, my most important files are already available to me--and not just on my laptop, but also on the Web, my iPhone, etc. It's a beautiful thing.

I'm not saying SugarSync is the ideal solution for everyone, but I definitely recommend using some kind of folder-syncing service for easy and effective data redundancy. Because, take it from me, you never know when your PC is going to die a weird and unexpected death.

Keep File Dates Intact When Restoring Data From Mozy

Even though, I've suffered some fairly catastrophic hardware failures, no critical data was lost--in part because I use Mozy to archive the important stuff (Word documents, my Outlook PST file, and so on) to the cloud.

It's interesting the things you learn about your backup system when the time comes to restore from it. For example, I once learned the hard way that the image file I'd created flat-out didn't work on the new hard drive I'd installed. (Why? I never did figure it out, which is why you should always do a "test restoration" whenever implementing a new backup system.) And recently I discovered a weird, annoying anomaly in the way Mozy restores files.

Specifically, after using Mozy's Restore Manager (a small utility intended solely for restoring files) to download my Word documents to my new PC, I discovered that each file's creation date (aka "Date modified") had been altered to today's date. That might not be a big deal for certain kinds of files, but I frequently need to know when a particular document was authored.

Why does this happen? I have no idea, but it's a bug that needs fixing. In the meantime, there is a way to make sure your file dates remain intact: Use the Mozy client software, not Restore Manager, to handle the restoration. (If you're working on a new PC like I was, you'll probably want to install that anyway.) That's according to a Mozy employee who posted the solution in a Mozy community forum. And I'm happy to report my tests bear this out.

Fix 'Green' YouTube Videos

Owing to my recent computer meltdown, I'm in the process of breaking in a new system (hopefully without "breaking" it along the way).

One weird anomaly cropped up right away: When I tried to watch a YouTube video, everything went green. Specifically, I could hear the audio, but the only image was a big green square. Huh? This was particularly vexing because I was sure I'd installed the latest version of Adobe Flash, and I definitely had the latest video drivers.

Thankfully, I remembered a fix from many moons ago. If you're encountering this same issue, try this:

  1. Open your Web browser and head to YouTube.
  2. Choose any random video (or the one you're actually trying to watch).
  3. Right-click anywhere in the video window, then click Settings.
  4. Clear the check box next to Enable hardware acceleration, then click Close.

Presto! Now your videos should play just fine.

If you've got a hassle that needs solving, send it my way. I can't promise a response, but I'll definitely read every e-mail I get--and do my best to address at least some of them in the PCWorld Hassle-Free PC blog . My 411: hasslefree@pcworld.com . You can also sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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