Monday, December 14, 2015

Expansion Storage Support: Lame, Lame, Lame!

I have three mobile devices that have expansion storage, by plugging in a MicroSD card. Or so they say. And yes, you can plug in a MicroSD, and it gets "recognized". You can even explicitly tell the device to put data there. But that is about the extent of it. It makes usability almost nil.

Example one: After a recent map update, my Garmin Nuvi GPS told me that my internal storage was almost full, and that I should consider adding more. So I added a MicroSD to double the storage. What happened? I can now see two "drives" on the device, but the GPS OS has no idea how to use the additional storage. There is no way to span volumes that I can see (and I have Googled this). I can put photos on the expansion storage, I suppose. Yeah, the GPS can display photos. Whoopee. But if the maps get much bigger, I'm boned.

Example two: I purchased a Motorola DROID RAZR M smartphone. It had a reasonable amount of storage, but I added a MicroSD to double the storage. What happened? Again, Android seems clueless about "just using" this extra storage. I can explicitly store my files there, but I can't say "all user files go on the expansion SD", nor is there any way to span volumes that I can see (and I have Googled this).

Example three: I received a Dell Venue 8 Pro with Windows 8 as a gift. The primary storage is about 60 GB. So I added a MicroSD to double the storage. What happened? Well, Windows recognized the "external drive". It would even allow me to move all of my user libraries over to it - by changing the "Location" property - something you have to do for each library. I wish Windows would support simply moving the "Users" directory over to another volume, or better yet, span volumes. But noooo!

Even worse, moving to the latest Windows 10 update failed because I had some files on an "external" drive. What's more, OneDrive cannot sync to an "external" drive. Jeez-louise! Shouldn't I get to decide if I want to treat a drive as "external" or not? A microSD that I tuck inside a covered slot that isn't even accessible when the case is installed, doesn't seem very "external" to me! Windows could just ask.

Bottom line, I have three microSD cards that have successfully "expanded" storage in three devices, and I have no usable way to make any practical use of it. I'm a technology geek; If I were really motivated, and I had the time, I could probably hack a work-around. But casual users? Fuggedaboudit! That's lame! Come on, OS vendors! Can't you get creative about making expansion storage a plug-n-play proposition?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Good Swift Backup

What this world needs is a good, convenient backup system. I realize that different people have different needs, but following a recent SSD failure, I can tell you what I need.

I had been doing regular backups to a 0.5 TB HDD, using Windows 7 scheduled backups. I "let Windows decide what to back up". That was probably a mistake. Had I chosen the custom backup, I could have selected "include a system image" with the scheduled backup. Then, I could have restored my system to a new drive from the system image. Bam! Just like that.

Instead, I had to re-install Windows, locate OEM drivers for the devices that Windows setup seemed to have no clue about, and that I could not get via online updates, since the NIC was one of the things Windows didn't recognize. I don't think I ever had an OEM driver DVD. I don't remember having to deal with that on the initial setup, but I digress. Anyway, the incremental backups that I did have were incomplete, and the entire feature seems to provide capabilities I never cared about (the ability to revert to an earlier version of a file that I created, and then edited). So it was a major headache that I thought I had taken precautions to avoid.

Okay, so Windows 7 has the backup capability I need: scheduled system image backups. So what's the problem? The problem is, this capability has been removed from Windows 8.1, and evidently, Windows 10, in favor of "file history", which I already pointed out, isn't what I need. Automated insurance against hardware disasters is what I really need.

Something that would be even better is an automatic system image backup that would start when I plug in a designated backup drive on a USB port, replacing the existing image, if any. A removable USB drive makes sense, because I want to keep backup drives offsite, and not connected full-time to a computer. (The reason for not keeping it connected full time is to help avoid attacks such as CryptoLocker.)

Maybe there's a market for what I'm selling here.