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Saving Data, the USB-C Way

Drobo_5C_Right_HiDrobo’s 5C data storage center can not only connect with the latest USB-C systems and hold up to 64TB of data but it can make sure that not a single bit is ever lost. It can hold up to five 3.5-inch drives that are set up in a redundant RAID arrangement so if a drive goes bad, the others can compensate. The case has indicators for power, data transfer and if you need to do something as well as a cool four LED array for capacity that’s available. It works with Mac OSX 10.10 and newer as well as Windows 7 through 10 systems and costs $349 without any drives.

Better Back Ups

AcronisTrueImage2017-BackupPlanOnlineDashboard (3)As if Acronis True Image wasn’t thorough enough, the 2017 edition adds lots of new ways to save your data and prevent data accidents. It still does a full image backup for PCs, Macs, iOS and Androids, so you’ll lose nothing in the event of a computer disaster, but TrueImage 2017 now can backup Facebook timelines and photos. You can also encrypt your backup data with the super-secure AES standard with a 256-bit key as well as keep copies in the cloud and locally.


Secure Access, Anywhere

Screen322x572 droboRather than someone stealing files from the office, all it takes is an inventive hacker to snatch what he wants out of your network. Drobo’s 5N and B810N network storage devices thwart this by encrypting everything that’s stored. They can be accessed via networked computers or through the company’s new MyDrobo apps. There’re apps for iOS and Android phones and tablets that cost $1 and provide secure anytime, anywhere access.


Never Lose a File

Acronis_logoThe worst thing that could happen to a school computer is that it dies a premature death without a backup anywhere to be found. Acronis’s True Image can make this exercise in frustration a thing of the past with excellent integration between local, network and cloud backups.

Rather than saving a small portion of a system’s files, as is the case with Windows’s File History and Apple’s Time Machine, Acronis does a full system back-up. It includes every file on the system – from the smallest document to every element of the operating system – so that at any time, it can be recreated on a repaired or new computer. Needless to say, this can save hours of work reloading apps.

The software works with PCs (Windows XP through 10) as well as Macs (OSX 9.52 through OSX 10.10.2) as well as for iOS and Android phones and tablets. The best part is that Acronis can retain up to 20 separate back-ups of any system. This lets you save system states for when it was brand new as well as at events, like adding software or updates, so you can easily roll back the system’s software. In other words, it’s completely recoverable.

Acronis set driveTo get started, download the software’s 5.1MB installer, which leads to a much longer download containing the actual back-up software. It takes about 20 minutes to fully get and install True Image. Everything is automatic except for clicking to accept their agreement and creating an account. The good news is that a single account can control many different computer back-ups.

You can try the software out for a month or enter a license key at this point. It’s now time to set up the app’s back-up parameters, which is much easier than just about any other back-up software I’ve used. You can choose to back-up the whole system or with the Options settings, just a folder or two. After picking the destination (an attached drive, network drive and/or Acronis’s cloud servers), you need to tell the software if you want the back-up encrypted and how often you want backups to be made. A cool option is to just set it to Nonstop, where True Image saves a copy when any file is opened.

True Image now swings into action, copying everything you’ve specified. While the initial back up is going on, you can use the machine. It took 1 hour and 12 minutes to back up a recent system with 150GB of assorted files. If you’re moving everything to the company’s online storage, it’ll take several days of behind the scenes uploads. After that, incremental updates are quicker and can be set up for when the computers aren’t typically being used.

The interface shows the last and next scheduled back up as well as the total size saved. True Image also has a comprehensive Dashboard that shows the program’s vital functions, all your backups and synchronization pairs that have been set up. The program has lots of useful utilities including software for moving a system, apps and all, to a larger hard drive or moving software to a new system.

Acronis recoverThe proof of any backup program is how well it restores files and brings them back to life. True Image lets you not only rebuild a complete machine, but a single file or folder if you want to undo a foolish deletion or have ended up with a corrupted version that won’t open. It took 1 minute and 10 seconds to find, grab and display a folder holding 510MB of assorted files with documents, images and videos. All opened without a problem.

Using the Acronis has a big pay-off. You can have your backups stored on the company’s online servers. The access is a significantly slower than local storage, but you can grab files as needed from anywhere there’s an Internet connection. Happily, unlike other cloud storage schemes – there’s no limit to how much space you can use.

The backup software has a 30-day trial to see if it fits into your school’s IT landscape. It costs $50 per computer, but adding unlimited cloud storage boosts that to $100 a year, but also includes backing up three tablets or phones. That’s a lot for a school with hundreds of computers. There’re some simple volume discounts that can lower that to $160 for three computers and up to 10 mobile devices with online storage. Unfortunately, Acronis doesn’t have a formal school licensing program at the moment but will consider each deployment on a case by case basis for discounts.

With True Image regardless of whether the backups are stored locally or online, you’ll never miss a bit.



Acronis schedule

Acronis True Image

$50 per user; district- and school-wide discounts apply


+ Backs up PCs and Macs

+ Local, network and cloud storage

+ Recover complete system, folder or file

+ 30-day trial

+ Online Dashboard


- Slow online back-ups and restoration

School’s Worth of Data

My Cloud DL4100 SmallOffice imageThe days of expensive onsite data storage are over with Western Digital’s My Cloud DL4100 family. Rather than file servers or expensive blades, the DL4100 is a self-standing Network Attached Storage (NAS) system that connects to any network and has four bays for 3.5-inch drives. It tops out at 24TB of total storage potential for an economical $1,530, which should be more than enough for most small or mid-sized schools; a two-bay DL2100 version that can be had for as little as $350.

Dl 4100 screenPowered by an Intel Atom processor and housing up to 6GB of RAM, the NAS system has a pair of Ethernet connections and a trio of USB ports. For those worried about security or losing data, the DL4100 can encrypt its contents with 256-bit AES coding and work with RAID levels 0, 1, 5 and 10 for fail-safe operations. The best part is that the NAS drive can move data back and forth with several popular online storage systems.

Freebee Friday: Bottomless Data Pit

Drive-64Teachers, students and admins should never have to pick what items to save and what to delete, and Google lets you do exactly that with unlimited storage on Google Drive for Education. It’s as simple as that, download and install the app and you can put whatever you have onto the online Drive storage repository. Plus, every file is encrypted for security and staffers can monitor activity on any file stored on Drive.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.