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Derek,

I was not trying to disparage Defender with "faint praise".  See the clarification in my last post.

Edited by DanZemke
grammar

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I just retired from a major, household name, computer manufacture.  I just use Windows defender. I also encrypt my drives. I do monthly full backups and daily incremental backups. Monthly backs are also copied to 2nd drive. You're much more likely to lose data to hardware failure or human error. Next would be to fall victim to social engineering or a firmware hack on an iot edge device.

I also run a secure gateway doing deep packet inspection and only let known mac addresses connect to my main network and they get assigned IP addresses. A separate guest network is setup for visitors.

 

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Filthy,

I use Bitlocker encryption and have a printout of all my keys. Control panel is still in Windows 10, and I use the Windows 7 backup there to make System images. I also use keyboard commands and the start menu as well as the left click menu from the start button. I keep a clone drive for each system and have a lot of spare HDDs. My main system has a WD elements for data backups and for storing its system images. I re-image about monthly. But I have three desktops all with the main system's data on them. The three Surface tablets are the same data in triplicate. I leave the recovery partition on each and make recovery USB thumb drives for each. I am paring down this year.

Well met.

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RV_,

 

Great plan. Most people don't get serious about backups and copies until they lose data. It is also important to test the backups and verify that the data is there. Many people and companies find out the hard way that their backups are empty.

 

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Yep, I got bit, even though I knew better, a long time ago.  I became pretty anal about verified backups.  

Image backups for the OS and apps are automatically verified after generation.  Almost all of my "user" data has a dictionary of checksum digests in each directory.  Sort of a poor-man's ZFS.  And of course, I have multiple copies in different locations.

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18 hours ago, mrschwarz said:

I downloaded the free version of Malwarebytes and scanned the computer. The only thing it found was a program that I had written. I assume it's because there was nothing in the database about it.

 

In addition to their DB of signatures, they also do a "'heuristic" scan to try and find potential attacks that aren't in their DB.  In my case, they often attempt to quarantine a tiny program that modifies itself (the exe file) on exit.  My assumption is that this is because it is self-modifying code.  Fortunately, they also use a white list so it's easy to exclude protection that isn't helping. 

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Filthy,

I've posted this here for several years but most folks can't even figure out how to use the recovery USB. The first time I used it I was lost for a minute but finally found the button to restore from a pre-made image. When your data is lost or corrupt the last thing you want is no experience with the non-intuitive recovery stick.

I always get computers without SSDs if I can, becauseI can buy one for the same or less than the added cost in buying new. And by doing my own, I end up with a faster system, and the original HDD as removed.

1. Get some 16 GB USB 3 thumb drives, then on each computer make one a recovery USB drive. Go here and learn how: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/be-prepared-create-a-windows-10-recovery-drive/

Now for the confusing to me when I was angry and trying to do a recovery but couldn't find what I needed. Once you make your recovery drive boot from it and go through each part in how to use it outlined here: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/get-familiar-with-the-windows-10-recovery-drive-before-you-need-it/?tag=nl.e101&s_cid=e101&ttag=e101&ftag=TRE684d531

OK so now you understand the basics of using the recovery drive and made one for your computer. And you've bought an SSD but haven't tried to clone the system to it.  If you have a drive dock, use it with your new SSD and go to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-i_-lQ2TPo

In addition to the external drive dock I suggest everyone get one of these USB 3.0 2.5" drive wire. These only work with 2.5" drives not 3.5" which need the dock for enough power to run: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07S9CKV7X/ref=sspa_dk_detail_0?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B07S9CKV7X&pd_rd_w=6mJvz&pf_rd_p=48d372c1-f7e1-4b8b-9d02-4bd86f5158c5&pd_rd_wg=Wbp3j&pf_rd_r=FM3JBPYD24280SSMVK5R&pd_rd_r=edb85d22-fb13-4afb-9c98-bb6fd171c48d&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFLOVIzRlE0TUtETDMmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTAwNjMzOTIySjI5R0FNTlMzVUtLJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTAxNzE4MzcyQk41R09DVzJaUUc5JndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfZGV0YWlsJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==                                                                                                                                   

1. You will need an external USB Hard drive to create a system image to. it does not need to be bigger than your installed hard drive. It just needs to be bigger than the amount of data on it. Trust me you need one. I use one of my many spare 1TB HDDs in a drive dock on one computer, on my other main computer I keep a WD Elements 4TB USB external USB drive. On my wife's 21" Lenovo AIO with a 512GB SSD, I have a spare laptop 2.5" HDD in an external USB 3.0 HDD case. On my other systems I use my Thermaltake Blac X drive dock that does both large desktop drives (3.5") and smaller laptop drives (2.5"). https://www.amazon.com/Thermaltake-External-Enclosure-Docking-ST0005U-C/dp/B01GF0OYI2

So now you have not removed your original HDD, you have an external USB hard drive or dock with a drive. In both cases the drives must only have more unused space as your original drive has used space. With your external drive attached follow the steps in this video to create a system image to your external drive. All your data is safe in your original drive. now initialize the SSD :                             

At the end it asks if you want to make a repair disk, just say no.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-i_-lQ2TPo

Now you have a complete system image on your external drive and you've not taken the original drive out yet.

Now take your original drive out put it in a safe place, and replace it with the SSD

Once the initialized SSD is installed in your computer still blank, boot your computer with the recovery 16GB USB 3.0 drive. You may have to go into setup and move USB device in your boot order to first so it checks there first. Booting from the recovery disk takes much longer than from your original drive. Once booted plug in your large external drive, then you follow the steps to restore the image from your external drive or dock with drive from the above video. Once it says it's restored, disconnect the recovery USB drive and disconnect the external drive you in which you created the image.

Now you have an SSD with your system on it. Now power it on and see if it boots OK. If not then keep going over it until you have your system on your SSD.

This whole thing taught you to make a system image without risk because you have your original drive in a safe place. Now it becomes your drive to put in if you have a hard drive failure. You have to keep making system images often to your external drive. So if you ever put your original HDD back in because of a failure or infection, you just reinstall your original drive and restore the image to it. That only after you've learned to create and restore a system image. Sure it sounds complicated but any time you want to quit and sleep on it, you just re-install your original HDD and you are up and running again without risking your data. This is a must learn skill!

The usual way folks upgrade to an SSD is to get a drive wire and initialize the SSD then clone your system to it. Then swap the original drive out and install the newly cloned SSD. But that way you miss the opportunity to learn to actually create and restore an image without risk to your system, programs, and data.

If you think you are backing up your system with clones or images and think the above is too complicated, how are you going to do it in a pinch? Angry and in fear you lost it all. If you just make images planning to avoid the hassle of learning the above by taking your external drive to Geek Squad or some such. So what do you do if they tell you the image wad bad and cannot be restored? How would you know if they screwed it up if you never proved you could make a good restorable image, AND restore it.

Like Windows 10, once you get some experience it isn't so bad huh? This is easy too. Tip: Always use the same external drive you originally started using to make data backups and create images to. Sometimes that can bite you too. But really, it's easy just make a day of it and don't touch that original drive except to put it back in if you fail to make and/or restore a system image. Images are different than clones, and different from data backups.

"Do or do not do, there is no try." - Yoda

Edited by RV_

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9 hours ago, RV_ said:

If you think you are backing up your system with clones or images and think the above is too complicated, how are you going to do it in a pinch? Angry and in fear you lost it all. If you just make images planning to avoid the hassle of learning the above by taking your external drive to Geek Squad or some such. So what do you do if they tell you the image wad bad and cannot be restored? How would you know if they screwed it up if you never proved you could make a good restorable image, AND restore it.

RV:

I'm not in any way disagreeing with your excellent tutorial or the importance of system backups. But, I bet I'm not all that difference from most people when I admit that I'm not consistent in regularly generating system images.  However, in today's world, I'm not sure they are as important as they once were.

For example, my current configuration consists of a Dell Inspiron with a 256GB SSD serving as the C drive and a 1TB HDD serving as the D drive.  The SSD is the boot drive and all programs are installed on it.  I do back this drive up (occasionally).  The D drive is exclusively a data drive and it is configured to mirror folders in my Microsoft OneDrive cloud.  When I create a document or image it is first loaded into the cloud which is then indexed to the D drive.  On demand any of the cloud files can be downloaded to their "index" locations on the D drive.

With this approach, all my documents are automatically protected.  I've long ago given up worrying about the stability of cloud storage; it is a fact of life that most of our world depends on stored cloud data.  As for the C drive, my primary programs are Office 365 and Chrome both of which can easily be downloaded from the cloud.  A new copy of Windows is also only a download away. As long as I have a USB boot drive I can get the system up and running and can download a copy of Windows. That used to be the case; I suspect it still is.  I realize that this would be a more labor-intensive process than would loading a system image, but, given the low failure rates of SSD drives, it's not one that should happen nearly as often as HDD failures used to.  Here's an article about SSD failure rates: SSD reliability

What I'm suggesting is that the effective use of cloud storage can reduce the data loss that could occur in the event of drive failure.  It's not a replacement for the "best practice" of having a current system image, but it minimizes the risks of not having one.

Joel (AKA docj)

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I don't rely on full images, they get stale quickly as you install new programs, update programs, update Windows.  I do make a full image of a clean Windows install and then an image with the fresh install of my primary apps. However I make sure all my data is backed up to multiple places.  You do have to make sure you know where each program is saving data and that you are backing it up.  I find that over time the registry gets too much garbage in it.  Every 18 to 24  months I completely blow away my system and build it from scratch with new install of windows and each program I still use and then restore data. I know this will sound extreme but has served me well over the years.

 

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Joel,

I do use the real time windows file backup to that 4GB which snowballs and when it tells me there's not enough room for my next image its time to delete the oldest half. My biggest concern are my music files, more than 30,000 cuts from my 2000 + CDs I bought to DJ professionally with from 1983-2003. I actually spent a month feeding CDs in manually back in 2004. I still buy CDs at pawn shops for  buck and rip them as I get them I rip to mp3 highest bit rate (360?) then I have to copy them over to a 3.5 spare drive in my dock. Then whenever I'm doing an Image I can copy the new files over. So I have original HDD drives for a six months or so then I'm more secure with the new SSD. Joel did you get the Inspiron AIO I have? It's set up identically as you describe. Mine came with 8GB Ram and my 16 GB stick came in today. I'm going to replace the HDD with WD Blue SSD or Samsung When I feel it's a keeper. It's all 10th gen Intel chipset. I just got in my powered 7 port USB hub today too. I'm now just waiting for my two 8GB sticks that are three weeks later than promised for my old 2720 I've refurbished. It's a 2015 Era so it has two Four GB sticks and max it handles is 16 so I keep the two four GB as spares. The new Inspiron 7780 came with one 8GB stick so one slot is open. The 16GB stick goes in next to the 8 bringing it to 24GB fast RAM. It can handle 32 GB but I'm not a gamer.

 

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Filthy,

I have seven full windows systems, and another mini PC for the two home theater systems. I copy my docs, pics, music, videos, programs etc to all systems on setup. Of course since it's over 300GB of music my three main systems get all of the music too. But the phones, and Surface devices as well as our phones all have 128GB micro SD cards of music. So I have overkill on redundancy. I just do a monthly image of my two main systems. I only keep the images in my secondary systems made after they were initially setup program data and all. I make one before programs and data then again once It proves a keeper. I use but am about to shut down my one drive cloud redundancies for all of them. I hate the lack of control. But I'm pretty good on keeping new stuff on all systems by copying to a 256GB thumb drive and plugging it in to each system on Windows update day. I'm much more casual now about it.

But the one thing I really hope folks copy from me is making and using an image when upgrading the main drive to see if you have a handle on restoring from the image. If you've never done it you may not be able to on the first try with all the recent changes especially UEFI.

Safe computing guys.

Edited by RV_

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13 hours ago, RV_ said:

Joel did you get the Inspiron AIO I have? It's set up identically as you describe. Mine came with 8GB Ram and my 16 GB stick came in today. I'm going to replace the HDD with WD Blue SSD or Samsung When I feel it's a keeper. It's all 10th gen Intel chipset.

My Inspiron is a bit older.  It has a Core i7 6700HQ.  I ordered it with 16GB  of RAM.  It came with a 125GB M3 SSD as a boot drive which I upgraded to 256GB and a 1 TB HDD D drive.  It's a good machine but heavy and it's a power hog since I ordered a 4K touchscreen display.  I rarely ever use the touchscreen, but my wife and I now play Wordscapes on it (as entertainment) using an Android emulator which gives us a much bigger display than would be available on our phones.

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Joel,

Your system sounds fantastic! I haven't had a 4k touchscreen yet. Love your specs too. I think Dell is going through a down cycle. My new system has issues with the headphone port, and now that I do too it seems searching online that a lot of XPS and Inspiron Dells have screwed up Realtak  drivers and conflicts that result in sometimes no sound out of the 3.5mm headphone/external speaker to my external speakers. I've already spent an afternoon with Dell tech support. And every day it's USB port issues, and sound. I'm going to return it or sell it and go back to my old one. Every time I get it working by uninstalling reinstalling drivers. Two days later the port is dead again, so today I swapped my old XPS 2720 back onto my desk and the new one is on the desk I use for building/fixing systems. I think when we buy top specs we end up replacing systems every five year or more instead of getting new every two years like I did in the 80s.

Heck my 2720 is 4th gen, and now that it has an SSD in it I am impressed! So it's my primary system again.

It's a Quad core i7 4770S @3.10GHz 8GB soon to be 16 GB RAM, with the QuadHD (2k) touchscreen. It screams since I put the WD Blue SSD in it.

I'll let you know if Dell fixes it. They are sending a prepaid shipping label and I have to send it in. So I'll have to wipe the drive. Which may be a good thing if a fresh Windows install solves the problems. Then I won't have to send it in. But it's been a PITA! BTW, my XPS 2720 weighs a ton too.  The new one is 1/3 the weight. both are 27".

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2,

Not really except for windows update days. Our new home has four floors counting the basement. So I am on my Surface Pro 7 in the LR. And my side table has the charger for it, my phone, and a micro USB for my Ring Security cam batteries. The Surface Pro 4 is in the family room with chargers on the side table too.The Surface Go is on my night stand next to the 10" latest Model Fire tablet. The HP quad core AMD A8 3.1GHz tower, 12GB, 1TB Seagate Hybrid SSHD drive, with hot swappable front HDD locking port, ac1900dual band WiFi, bluetooth 4.0 YSB adapter and Quad HD 27" glare free Acer monitor are in a compact office in a solid cherry wood armoire looking but not those cheapo ones. Two mini PCs will be on the back of each 65" quantum led TVs. My wife's Lenovo AIO is on her desk.

My surprisingly great Voyo mini PC finally died after five years. It cost me $98.00 new from the gearbest guys. I have another mini PC on order now, but quite a bit better specs. It was in pre-order in sale with quad core 8GB/256GB SSD for $199.99 free shipping. If I like the first one I'll order another for the other TV room: https://www.gearbest.com/mini-pc/pp_009643703831.html?wid=1433363

But it takes a month to get it from China direct. I'm in no hurry. I did order a couple of Logitech K400 kB with built in trackpad. I've had them before and they're the best ergonomics for me for home theater PCs.

Hey we don't RV for now, and I gave up hunting, drinking, smoking ten years ago. my computers are my toys and hobby. In a year I spend much less than my friends who are into boats, race cars, hunting, or restoring collector cars. my computers are a drop in the bucket. I just don't do laptops anymore at all.

I sell and donate my cables and parts when they are out of date and I am getting rid of all but one of each cable spares, USB Hubs, etc. I have. That way when I die I don't leave piles of obsolete once expensive junk no one wants. BTW I am 68 and healthy. I am getting ready for my son to be executor on my part of our estate only because we just had to take care of my FIL's estate and like us he had acreage and a workshop. He made no attempt to sort the junk from the working and or usable stuff. I recently realized I'd become a well organized and updated packrat, but as packrat just the same. No more as we sold 3/4ths of the outdoor stuff before we moved and half now of what was left when we set up here. We have stuff stored in the basement and 90% just went to Goodwill when they opened again. I ordered a new toy last night that I am posting about as it is perfect for RVrs.

Just Techie Toys!

Edited by RV_

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5 hours ago, RV_ said:

It screams since I put the WD Blue SSD in it.

For me at least, upgrading to an SSD so markedly changes the performance envelope for a Windows computer that my "need" to continually upgrade has been significantly reduced.  I'm a very impatient computer user, the type who hates to wait for reboots and updates.  With an SSD a reboot is barely enough time to get another cup of coffee! 😄

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Amen Joel! My XPS One 2720 was taking up to a full minute to boot! I thought it was a program loading on boot but nope! That WD Blue 1 TB SSD I put in gives me an under 15 second boot to full use - not still waiting for the boot programs to finish loading. I had a 2 TB HDD but it was not needed I use <500GB of hard drive. mSATA drives are a bit faster because they plug directly into the motherboard. So since it originally had a 32GB mSATA and a 2TB HDD, my plan is to replace the 32GB mSATA with a 256GB mSATA drive. they're only about $45.00 shipped. The computer is configured to use the 32GB mSATA SSD only as a cache! I have to go into the system settings and change it to using the mSATA as a drive before replacing it. Then I can clone the HD to the mSATA minus the music, and then configure the SSD as a storage picture and music drive. Of course all the programs and windows will be in the mSATA so the whole thing will run faster.

I believe the old Dells are better quality by far then their new ones, at least as far as the AIOs are concerned.

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Update on the new Dell Inspiron 7790 10th gen i5 quad core/8GB/1TB HDD Headphone 3.5mm jack sound problems. I bought a really cheap set of two USB headphone/mic soundcards just to make sure I have a workaround. https://www.ebay.com/itm/2-Pack-USB-3d-Audio-Sound-Card-Microphone-Headset-Adapter/312833535013?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&var=611551528176&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

It works great! But I am supposed to be able to use the one on the back of the Inspiron 7790 AIO! It is flaky with some USB devices as well, and the USB TV tuner has to be unplugged and plugged back in for it to work after boot. I have the same USB TV on both Del 27" AIOs and I am on the old 2720 now. Everything works perfectly on the old Dell.The External speakers are now on this older 2720. They are Bose Companion 3 Series II. Awesome speakers and small sub system. https://www.amazon.com/Bose-Companion-multimedia-speaker-Graphite/dp/B000HZBR64

The new RAM for it came in yesterday.  It currently has two Ram slots and only one used with an 8GB stick in it. I am adding 16 GB to bring it to 24GB. It can handle 32GB but I don't need to pay that much more for it. It came a 256 GB mSATA drive and 1TB HDD. I am wavering on whether to get a WD Blue 1TB for it too. I may do it just to reduce heat even further. 

The new 7790 AIO has the system, including Windows and all my programs, (C drive) all on the 256GB mSATA, like I am going to setup the 2720 once I am sure of which 256GB half size mSATA to get.

Despite solving the sound problem with a cheap USB headphone mic adapter, there are just too many problems with the ports on it to keep it. I am pissed! I've decided to send it in for repair, likely a new motherboard, and then if it does not work perfectly try for a lemon law return and refund. If it works perfectly I'll sell it and get a used high end desktop to use with my Acer 2k monitor. It is awesome and yes I used it before and after we moved for my test station.

So it is getting shipped back for repair <sigh>

 

Edited by RV_

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