Oddly enough, one of the best ways to back up your data to an external hard drive comes from a cloud storage company.
I’m referring to iDrive, which offers a free local backup utility inside of its Windows and Mac apps. While iDrive is better-known for offering cheap cloud storage, its local backup tool doesn’t require a subscription and is only limited by the amount of space on your storage drives.
Although I personally still prefer Microsoft OneDrive as my cloud storage service—mainly because of its tighter Windows integration and bundling with Microsoft 365—iDrive’s local backup tool is a straightforward and effective way to make copies of your important data onto storage drives that you control.
When you first launch the iDrive app, you’ll be looking at the “Backup” tab, and the default option will be “Backup files to my iDrive account.” If any of your folders are listed in this section, right click and select “Remove all items” so that iDrive doesn’t attempt to store your files in the cloud.
Next, click the button for “Backup files to Local, Wi-Fi, or Express devices.” Directly beneath this button, click the “…” next to “Backup location,” then choose your external drive from the list. (If you don’t have an external drive already, PCWorld has some recommendations.)
Jared Newman / Foundry
Now, it’s time to choose which computer folders you’d like to back up. Near the bottom of the iDrive app, click “Change,” then check off all the storage drives or folders you want to include. They should now appear under “Files / folders for local backup.”
Jared Newman / Foundry
Once everything’s ready, click “Backup Now” to make your first backup. This can take minutes, hours, or even days depending on how much data you’re storing and the speed of your external drive, so be patient.
Scheduling routine backups
Backing up your data only works if you do it on a regular basis. To that end, iDrive also offers a scheduler for making routine backups automatically.
From the Backup tab, click “Schedule,” then check off the days of the week on which you’d like to run the backup, along with the time of day to start. With an always-on desktop PC, you’ll most likely want to schedule the backup for the middle of the night. Otherwise, set it for a time when your computer is likely to be up and running.
Jared Newman / Foundry
You can also set up email notifications to confirm that the backup succeeded (or failed), or get notifications through the desktop app. If your computer’s off during the scheduled backup time, iDrive will resume it by default once the computer back on, but you can disable this if you wish. Click “Save Changes” to begin the schedule.
If you’re not using iDrive’s online backup service, you should also disable scheduled online backups from this menu. Select “Default BackupSet” from the dropdown list at the top, then uncheck the daily scheduling settings.
One last useful option to note: Under Settings, you can click the “Throttle” tab and set a limit on CPU use for your backups. That may be helpful if you have a lightweight PC and the backup operation is hindering your work.
Jared Newman / Foundry
Restoring your data
Note that iDrive doesn’t simply mirror your files onto an external drive. Instead, it creates an encrypted copy of your data, so if you navigate to the backup location in File Explorer, you won’t find anything usable. To restore your files to their original, unencrypted form, you’ll need to use the iDrive app’s Restore function.
This is important: If you’re restoring data to a different computer than the one that made the backup, you must first head the Backup tab, click “Backup files to Local, Wi-Fi, or Express device,” then select your external drive under “Backup location.” Otherwise, you won’t be able to find your backup data in the steps below.
Jared Newman / Foundry
Now, head to the “Restore” tab and select “Restore files from Local, Wi-Fi, or Express device.” If you’re on a new computer, use the “Select Device” box to choose the computer where you originally created the backup.
Check off the files you want to restore, and at the bottom of the app, choose where you want to restore them. You can either select the original location or choose another destination on any drive connected to your computer.
Jared Newman / Foundry
Finally, click “Restore Now” to begin the process. As with the original backup, this can take a while if you’ve stored a lot of data.
As I mentioned earlier, I personally use OneDrive as my main cloud storage service, and have only been using iDrive for local backups.
But if you aren’t invested in a cloud storage provider already, iDrive’s online service may be worth considering as an additional backup source. The iDrive Photos tier only costs $10 per year (and $1 for the first year), and in addition to backing up unlimited photos from your phone, it can store up to 1 TB of data from your computer. That should be plenty unless you have a huge photo and video library. (The next step up is $80 per year for 5 TB of cloud storage.) iDrive also provides a Sync folder separate from its main backup service, letting you easily access files across all your devices.
Of course, iDrive isn’t the only option for local backups. Companies like EaseUS and Paragon also offer free local backup utilities, and Windows itself has an external drive backup tool built in.
But iDrive’s software is more flexible than the built-in Windows option, and it doesn’t have some of the limits that EaseUS and Paragon place on their free versions. (Both of them, for instance, require a paid upgrade to get status notifications for your backups, and EaseUS even limits backup speeds for free users.) iDrive also offers free disk cloning tools that other companies charge for.
iDrive may be more generous with its local backup tools, perhaps because its business model revolves around selling cloud storage rather than packaged software. Still, you can use it to keep encrypted copies of your data without ever having to pay for it.
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For years, USB technologies have been an alphabet soup of terminology—when, really, all consumers care about is how fast the USB connection is. But now, finally, a new USB logo scheme solves this problem.
The USB Implementors Forum unveiled new logos on Friday for laptop ports, chargers, and cables that actually try to communicate what each one does. It’s a far cry from the nightmare naming scheme that the USB-IF implemented in 2009. It’s worth noting that the names of each specification apparently haven’t changed, but the logos have, and that’s all that matters.
USB-IF executives said the new logos were established alongside the new 240W USB-C power specification, which can now charge USB-C powered laptops at the levels required by even some gaming laptops. Now, the various USB specifications are defined by their speed. Charging specifications are defined by their wattage, with logos that actually indicate this.
“With the new higher power capabilities enabled by the USB PD 3.1 Specification, which unlocks up to 240W over a USB Type-C cable and connector, USB-IF saw an opportunity to further strengthen and simplify its Certified Logo Program for the end user,” said Jeff Ravencraft, USB-IF President and chief operating officer, in a statement. “With our updated logos, consumers can easily identify the USB4 performance and USB Power Delivery capabilities of Certified USB-C cables, which support an ever-expanding ecosystem of consumer electronics from laptops and smartphones to displays and chargers.”
Check out the new logos, which will be used on packaging, ports, and device power ports:
About the only drawback? There’s no obligation for device makers to actually inscribe the logo on their laptops, which could mean a continuation of the confusion around ports.
The new USB cable logos also feature clear communication of their speed as well as their charging capabilities. The big question is whether these cables will support Thunderbolt, or DisplayPort, or USB4 —any of the protocols, that is.
OLED monitors, with their vibrant colors and perfect black levels, are some of the very best screens you can connect to your PC. Unfortunately, they’re also crazy expensive: with only a few models on the market, the cheapest is still more than a thousand bucks. That might be changing soon, if a report on OLED mega-manufacturer LG Display is accurate.
OLED-info.com quotes unconfirmed news out of China’s manufacturing sector, saying that LG is ready to start manufacturing smaller OLED panels for smaller TVs and computer monitors. Specifically, it’s preparing to ramp up smaller displays using the cheaper WOLED panel technology, which can be produced much more economically than the older types of OLED panels seen in high-end televisions.
Despite being ubiquitous on smaller gadgets like phones and smartwatches, and extremely popular in high-end televisions, OLEDs have been slow to come to the PC market. We’re just starting to see them become a popular option on more and more laptops, but you can count the number of commercially available desktop OLED monitors on one hand. And, of those, LG’s own offerings have been focused on the ultra-high-end professional media market — it’s only this year that the company has begun supplying panels for gaming monitors to companies like Alienware and Corsair.
While we can’t verify the news without a more conventional source, it makes sense. The high-end television market is currently saturated (no pun intended) with OLED screens since there’s been relatively little innovation in the last few years and huge numbers of consumers upgraded their home theaters during the pandemic. OLED manufacturing technology is poised to go bigger (or rather, poised to hit the midrange between small and big) after spending a decade maturing in the mobile electronics market.
If all goes well, we might begin to see more affordable OLED monitors announced at trade shows like CES, E3, and Computex in 2023, with models hitting the market in the summer or fall. Keep your fingers crossed for some display bargains.
Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.
The Google Pixel Watch is incoming (Image credit: Google)
We’re expecting the Google Pixel Watch to make its full debut on Thursday, October 6 – alongside the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro – but in the meantime a major leak has revealed much more about the upcoming smartwatch.
Seasoned tipster @OnLeaks (opens in new tab) has posted the haul, which shows off some of the color options and band styles that we can look forward to next week. We also get a few shots of the watch interface and a picture of it being synced with a smartphone.
Watch faces are included in the leak too, covering a variety of different approaches to displaying the time – both in analog and digital formats. Another image shows the watch being used to take an ECG reading to assess heartbeat rate.
Just got my hands on a bunch of #Google #PixelWatch promo material showing all color options and Watch Bands for the first time. Some details revealed as well…@Slashleaks 👉🏻 https://t.co/HzbWeGGSKP pic.twitter.com/N0uiKaKXo0October 1, 2022
If the leak is accurate, then we’ve got four silicone straps on the way: black, gray, white, and what seems to be a very pale green. Leather straps look to cover black, orange, green and white, while there’s also a fabric option in red, black and green.
We already know that the Pixel Watch is going to work in tandem with the Fitbit app for logging all your vital statistics, and included in the leaked pictures is an image of the Pixel Watch alongside the Fitbit app running on an Android phone.
There’s plenty of material to look through here if you can’t wait until the big day – and we will of course be bringing you all the news and announcements as the Google event unfolds. It gets underway at 7am PT / 10am ET / 3pm BST / 12am AEDT (October 7).
Analysis: a big moment for Google
It’s been a fair while since Google launched itself into a new hardware category, and you could argue that there’s more riding on the Pixel Watch than there is on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro – as Google has been making phones for years at this point.
While Wear OS has been around for a considerable amount of time, Google has been leaving it to third-party manufacturers and partners to make the actual hardware. Samsung recently made the switch back to Wear OS for the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, for example.
Deciding to go through with its own smartwatch is therefore a big step, and it’s clear that Google is envious of the success of the Apple Watch. It’s the obvious choice for a wearable for anyone who owns an iPhone, and Google will be hoping that Pixel phones and Pixel Watches will have a similar sort of relationship.
What’s intriguing is how Fitbit fits in – the company is now run by Google, but so far we haven’t seen many signs of the Fitbit and the Pixel lines merging, even if the Pixel Watch is going to come with support for the Fitbit app.
Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.