Tag Archives: backup

How to download a full backup copy of Wikipedia

I’ve spent plenty of time making jokes about what would happen if Wikipedia went offline in our modern, internet-dependent world – planes dropping out of the sky, no knowledge of any events before 2007, dogs walking their owners – but in all seriousness, any Wikipedia outage will affect millions of students, educators, scientists, and everyday people looking for answers to both simple and complex questions.

You’re not totally out of luck though; in this article, I’ll show you how to maintain access to Wikipedia’s information even after the site goes offline. Not only will this be useful during deliberate blackouts (like in the January 2012 protest of SOPA and PIPA), but it could come in handy in the future when presented with network difficulties, power outages, or even new internet legislation.

How to download a backup copy of Wikipedia

Before you get started, please note that the standard English backup of Wikipedia is about 7.5 gigabytes. Even on a fast connection, this database can take several hours to download depending on the amount of traffic on Wikipedia’s servers. It is safe to assume that Wikipedia’s servers will be hit with record amounts of traffic if a known blackout is approaching, so if you want to download a copy, start downloading as early as possible.

First off, don’t worry – it is both legal and free to download a backup of all content available on Wikipedia for personal use, mirroring, informal backups, offline use, or database queries. All text content in Wikipedia is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License and the GNU Free Documentation License. Images fall under different terms, but in this guide we’re just going to be downloading the text.

While the downloadable version of Wikipedia’s database is massive, there are a few limitations: Only current revisions of articles will be downloaded, and no discussion or user pages are included.

Step 1

Download the English language Wikipedia dump. You can download the latest version of this file directly from Wikipedia or via BitTorrent (unofficial).

You can also download the Simple English Wikipedia, which is much smaller than the full Wikipedia (about 75 megabytes).

Step 2

The Wikipedia database dump is not very useful on its own, so next you’ll need to download the free application WikiTaxi (Windows only) to view Wikipeda on your computer.

(Mac users can check out Wiki Offline for about $10, but in this guide I will only be covering WikiTaxi for Windows.)

WikiTaxi is a “portable” application so you don’t have to install anything. All you need to do is extract the downloaded .zip file and you’re finished.

Step 3

After extracting WikiTaxi and your Wikipedia database download has finished, open the WikiTaxi Importer (WikiTaxi_Importer.exe). Browse to the location of the Wikipedia database you downloaded in Step 1, and then select a location to save the new WikiTaxi-formatted database file. Click Import Now! when finished.

Step 4

Close the WikiTaxi Importer and open the main WikiTaxi application (WikiTaxi.exe). Click the Options button and select Open a *.taxi Database. Locate the database you created in Step 3 and select Open.

That’s it! You now have full, offline access to Wikipedia.

 

Backup Files from Your Linux Desktop with Pybackpack

BackupAs you probably know, there are a number of great web apps for backing up your files. Many of us here at Techerator are partial to Dropbox.

That said, for some people cloud-based storage is overkill. Others have serious reservations about trusting their files to others. Fair enough. So what can they do?

Well, they can manually copy their important files to a CD or a DVD, or they upload them to a personal web server. Those solutions are fine, but they also require manual intervention. Anyway, what’s the point of having a computer if you can’t let it do the heavy lifting for you?

If you use a Linux distribution with the GNOME desktop, you can use Pybackpack. It’s a simple but effective graphical tool that enables you to save your important files to a CD or DVD, a folder on your local file system, or even a remote web server.

Let’s take a look at how to use Pybackpack.

Downloading and Installing the Software

Before you download Pybackpack, make sure that the following software is installed on your computer:

  • Python
  • PyGTK
  • PyGlade
  • rdiff-backup
  • genisoimage

If you plan to back up your data to a CD or DVD, you’ll also need Nautilus CD Burner. To be honest, I find using CDs and DVDs to be a waste, but your mileage may vary. You probably have most of the software listed above installed on your computer. Anything you don’t have you can install using your package manager.

You can download Pybackpack here. The latest version is 0.5.8. Once you’ve downloaded Pybackpack, extract the contents of the archive to somewhere on your hard drive. Then, crack open a terminal window and navigate to that directory.

Run the following commands:

python setup.py build sudo python setup.py install 

Getting Started

Launch Pybackpack by pressing ALT+F2. In the Run Application dialog box, type pybackpack and then press Enter.

Pybackpack main window

If you want to copy the contents of your /home directory to a CD or DVD, make sure there’s a writable disk in your CD/DVD drive and then click Go. But, as I mentioned earlier, I find backing up to a CD or DVD to be a waste. You can generally only use them once. And you might not want to back up your entire /home directory.

Pybackpack enables you to back up specific folders and files. You do this by creating backup sets. Using backup sets makes a lot more sense. You can make copies of important files, and even group sets of similar files and folders together. Doing that makes your backups easier to manage.

Creating Backup Sets

In the Pybackpack window, click the Backup tab.

Backup tab

Select New backup set from the list and then click Edit. This starts a wizard that will walk you through the process of creating a backup set.

Creating a backup set - step 1

Click Forward. In the Backup Set Name window, enter the following information:

  • Name of the backup set. Make it descriptive or at least short and to the point.
  • An optional short description.

Then, select where you want to back up your files from the Destination type list. You can save them to a CD or DVD, somewhere on your computer, or to a remote server. Let’s assume you want to save the files to a web server. Select Remote Host (SSH) from the Destination type list. Then, fill in the following information:

  • Username – The name you use to log into the server.
  • Host – The address of the server.
  • Path – The directory on the server in which you want to save your files.

Creating a backup set - step 2

Click Forward. In the next window, select the file and/or folders that you want to include in the backup set by click them in the directory tree and then clicking the Include in set button.

Creating a backup set - step 3

Click Forward. You’re taken to a summary window. If you need to make changes, click the Back button. Otherwise click Forward to save the backup set.

Creating a backup set - step 4

Performing a Backup

When you’re ready to backup your files, select the backup set in the Pybackpack window.

Doing a backup

Then, click the Backup button. Depending on the number and size of the files you’re backing up, and where you’re backing them up to, the process could take a few seconds to a few minutes.

Restoring Your Backups

You might want to do that once in a while. Click the Restore tab in the Pybackpack window. Then click either Local (somewhere on your computer or on a CD/DVD) or Remote (SSH). In either case, enter the path to the directory containing the backup that you want to restore.

If you have multiple backups, you can select the one that you want to restore from the Restore as of list. Then, click the Restore button.

Restoring a backup

Final Thoughts

Pybackpack is a very flexible and very easy-to-use tool. It’s easy to use and offers several options. While it’s not designed to back up your entire system, Pybackpack does a solid job of backing up your important files and folders.

Photo credit: svilen001

Back Up Your Google Docs, Reader, Calendar and Contacts with CloudPull for Mac

CloudPull is an app that will back up the contents of your Google Docs, Reader, Calendar, and Contacts, but is available exclusively to Apple users using Mac OS 10.6 or 10.7. Sorry, PCs. It’s available for a 30 day free trial, but costs $24.95 if you’d like to use it permanently.

This is your home screen.

Once I logged in, the app was an absolute breeze to use and setup. CloudPull did its job perfectly. Once you download the app, there is no installation to go through. Instead, you just navigate to your downloads folder and drag the CloudPull app into your applications folder.

When you launch CloudPull, you will be asked for the username and password to the Google Account that you would like to back up. Enter your information and look below to find a few check marks that let you choose which Google services you would like to back up to your computer from the following list: Docs, Reader, Calendar, and Contacts.

Once you’ve submitted your choices, the app begins to work automatically, pulling all of your files from Google’s cloud and saving them into the app. From there, you can keep them stored within the app, which means they are saved in the following location by default:


/Users/(Your Home Folder)/Library/Application Support/CloudPull/backups/

Or you have the “Restore to file…” option that lets you save specific files to your hard drive in a location of your choosing.

Additionally, there is the Preferences panel which is accessible from the top menu bar: CloudPull > Preferences. In this area of the program, you can add multiple accounts that you would like backed up (as shown below).

There is also the Advanced tab where you can set a specific folder that you would like to have your items automatically saved. I changed mine to my Documents folder, for example, and created a “Google Back Up” folder within it so that it would be more accessible. The Advanced Tab is also where you can change the frequency of back ups, as well as the length of time that you’d like to store outdated files. Another option you have is to toggle whether or not you want CloudPull to start automatically when you first sign in to your computer and whether or not you’d like it to run in the background.

I highly recommend the CloudPull, especially if you don’t completely trust Google with all of your important stuff. It does exactly what it says it will and it does it very, very well.

Three simple ways to back up your tweets

If you use Twitter, you probably know how difficult if can be to find a tweet that you posted a couple of weeks ago or more. Maybe it was a pithy quote. Or maybe it was a link to an interesting article or website. But once those 140 characters get mixed up in that sea of tweets you might as well kiss them goodbye.

Or maybe not. While you can’t save your tweets from within Twitter itself, there are a number of services that will collect and package tweets so you can download and view them on your computer.

Here’s a look at three simple but effective ways to back up your tweets.

Tweetake

Tweetake is a free service that’s simplicity itself. All you need to do is log in using your Twitter account and you’re ready to go. From there, you can choose what you want to back up – your tweets, favorite tweets from others, those sent by people you follow, direct messages, or everything.

Tweetake

 

Then, you just click a button and in a minute or two your tweets are downloaded as a .csv file that you can open in a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice.org Calc. The results aren’t pretty but Tweetake is effective.

The results, in a spreadsheet

 

Keep in mind that Tweetake won’t backup all of your tweets (unless you only have a few of them). It will go back about four months or so. Still, if you do a backup every 30 days or so, you should be covered.

Tweetscan Backup

Going a step or two further is Tweetscan Backup. Like Tweetake, it’s a free service. And like Tweetake, Tweetscan Backup lets you choose what you want to backup – personal tweets, favorites, tweets from followers and friends, replies, direct
messages, or all of the above.

Tweetscan

Tweetscan collects your last 1,000 tweets. Depending on what kind of Twitter user you are, that could be a month’s worth or a year’s worth of tweets. Tweetscan creates a .zip file containing a .csv file and an HTML file. The .csv file, like the one that Tweetake produces, isn’t pretty. But that HTML file is something else. Open it in Firefox or Google Chrome and you get a very nicely laid out view of your tweets.

Tweetscan HTML file

Backupify

I saved this one for last. Why? If you want power and flexibility, Backupify is what you’re looking for.

Backupify does more than back up your tweets. You can also use it to archive other social media and Web services like Facebook, Flickr, WordPress, and Google Apps. But we’re only interested in what Backupify can do with Twitter right now…

The service is fire and forget. You can tell Backupify to take a daily backup of all of your Twitter stream – your tweets, replies, direct messages, and tweets posted by your followers. Each type of tweet is saved in its own file, which makes finding things easier when you need to.

Backupify

If that wasn’t enough, Backupify can create a .zip file of your tweets and every week it collects your tweets into a nicely formatted PDF book.

Tweets, as a PDF

While Backupify has a free option, it’s kind of limited. If you want to backup all of your social media, then you might want to take a look at one of the for-pay plans.

Final thoughts

There’s no need for your tweets to disappear down a digital black hole. With a good backup service, you can save your tweets for posterity. Or, at least, find that one special tweet that’s you want or need to check out again. And these three services can help you do just that.

Recover Lost Files with Disk Drill for Mac

Have you ever been looking for a file and then realize you trashed it? If this has happened to you recently, you may be in luck. You can download Disk Drill from Cleverfiles Software for the Mac. Disk Drill can scan your hard drive drive for recently deleted files and can restore the lost files or folder.

Disk Drill is free for now, but pricing points for the full release have not been set yet. Cleverfiles software wishes to have it released in February 2011. If your interested and free is more in your budget, hurry up and get the beta builds!

Main Screen

Setup is easy

Open the app, hit protect, pick your drive and don’t worry about Disk Drill until you need it. To get the most out of Disk Drill, enable the “Recovery Vault” on the drive you wish to save. Disk Drill becomes your friend when a file goes missing and time machine is not in place to save the day.

What Happens Quote

Restoration

Open the app and choose Recover, pick your drive and hit undelete from recovery vault. If that doesn’t find your file, Deep Scan is an option. The deep scan can take an hour or more but depending on how important that file is to you it may not matter as to it iss your only choice.

Deep Scan

Testing

With Disk Drill closed, I copied a folder full of pictures I had to the desktop. I then proceeded to delete the folder with 250 MB or so worth of pictures and continued on with my night. The next day I opened up Disk Drill and did the recovery vault and did a quick scan that took less than 5 minutes. It recovered every single one of the pictures perfectly.

Results will vary due to hard drive use. For example, if you deleted a file and copied 30 gigs worth of something before the recovery attempt, the results may not be as good.

Resources

Disk Drill is light on computer resources. You may think an index of your hard drive would take a large database, but according to Cleverfiles Software:

Generally, for every 2-3 low-level data writing tacts, Disk Drill does 1 modification of its protection database. It means that, your hard disk speed changes within 1-3% when Disk Drill is doing internal Recovery Vault routines. Nothing to worry about at all. This caused no visible slowdowns of your system on our regular tests.
Additionally, speaking of disk space required by Recovery Vault, it’s only 6 KB of written data for every single entity Recovery Vault monitors (files, folders). In a regular scenario Recovery Vault will monitor 5000-7000 of files. With 10000 files protected, Recovery Vault’s database will be just ~60MB in size.

Basically if you have a new intel mac computer, and you will have to for this software, you will be fine. if you have a large high speed hard drive you will not notice a thing except for the scans are more fast vs other software.

Alternative

Apple’s own Time Machine may be an alternative, but that requires an entire external hard drive and none of the external drive’s space can be used to store personal data; it is all devoted to the computer backup. Time Machine also only runs the backup every hour on a USB drive which may not catch that file you just lost.

Summing it up

Disk Drill is still in beta so take that with a grain of salt. From the testing I have done the software has shown no effect on my system performance or speed. I have not “needed” to use it yet, but with some tests it works well for its intended purpose if you catch the fact the file is missing in the first place. If you wait too long, your chances for recovery go down with every file written.

Note
This product is still in beta testing. While it is in beta still it is currently free. Future pricing is unavailable at this time.

How to Download and Backup Pictures from an LG Dare Mobile Phone (VX9700)

I recently decided to part ways with my old LG Dare phone (VX9700), but before I got rid of it I wanted to back up the pictures that were still stored in its memory.  Unfortunately, you can’t just plug the device into a computer and make copies, and it takes a long time to send each picture from the phone one at a time.  This guide will show you how to quickly backup your pictures from your LG Dare.

Step 1: Download and install BitPim.  This is incredibly useful software that lets you access your phone’s file system and we’ll be using it in this guide to backup your pictures.  BitPim is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Step 2: Connect your LG Dare phone to your computer with a micro USB cable.  Open BitPim and go to Edit –> Detect Phone.  BitPim should quickly identify your phone which you can verify in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Step 3: Click Filesystem in the bottom left of Bitpim, then open up the / folder tree in the next column.

Step 4: Locate and expand the folder mmc1, then click my_pix.  You should see a list of all your pictures in this directory, which will have numeric file names and end with .jpg.  Right click the mmc1 folder and select Backup entire tree…

This process can take a very long time depending on how many pictures you have on your phone.  You can monitor its progress by looking at the status bar. Be sure not to use the phone or the program while it says BUSY in the bottom left.

Step 5: When BitPim is finished backing up the files, a dialog box will pop up where you can specify the location you would like to save the files.  The files will be stored in a compressed .zip folder.

That’s it!  Your pictures are now copied from your LG Dare to your computer.

Photo credit: LGEPR

Synchronize and Backup Your Files with SyncToy 2.0

synctoyAre you tired of trying to keep up with synchronizing files on more than one computer or external storage device? SyncToy 2.0, a free application from Microsoft, solves this problem by allowing you to copy, move, rename, and delete files between storage devices or computers quickly and easily.

Getting started with SyncToy is very easy:  Simply download the application and install it.  Once you’ve installed SyncToy, open it from the Start Menu and you will be brought to a welcome screen.

synctoy_2_welcome

To create a folder pair (which means the folders will synchronize files together), click ‘Create New Folder Pair’ at the bottom of the screen.  You will then be able to select the folders you want to synchronize.

synctoy_2_pickfolders

Once you’ve selected the left and right folders, you will be able to choose the type of synchronization that will be used:

synctoy_2_echo

Synchronize – This should be used when you want to edit files in both folders and want the changes to be made on both ends.  Therefore, if you add a folder on one drive, it will be pushed to the other.

Echo – This means folder pairs are going to be exact copies, and it will use the left folder as the source.  Any changes made to the left folder will be copied to the right folder, but if changes are made on the right, they will be over written by the files on the left.  This is nice for backing up due to it overwriting anything different on the back up drive.

Contribute – This option is the same as echo, only added or modified files will be synchronized (no deletion will occur).

After you’ve selected the type of synchronization you would like to perform, you will be shown a summary screen with the option to change settings.  You will also be given the option to preview the synchronization, which will show you exactly what files will be moved, updated, or deleted.  You should always preview the sync before running it the first time to make sure your settings are correct.

synctoy_2_summary

synctoy_2_preview

Once you think your sync is ready to go, click ‘Run’ at the bottom of the screen.  The speed of the synchronization process will depend on the amount of files being synchronized as well as the speed of the media you are using.  When it is finished, the program will display results and shows you any failures that may have occurred.    If all is well, you are done!

SyncToy is an excellent tool, but you have to remember to run it manually.  If you want to make SyncToy to run on a schedule (which is a great idea to ensure consistent backups), check out this guide.  Data redundancy is the key to surviving in the computer world, so keep up on your backups!

SyncToy 2.0 is a free download for Windows and can be downloaded here.