Saturday, November 12, 2016

The "backup" plan - end of 2016

I have a lot of valuable digital data. The most precious ones are the photos of my wedding, my kids and all our trips in Japan. I do have all the photos backed up to Google Photos and some to Facebook, but the issues is that neither service preserves original file. Additionally, I have all the 'important' documents backed up to Google Drive.

Locally, I currently have all my data in my DIY NAS. It has currently got two data drives (can support four), which I mirror manually every now and then. While one drive is a backup of the other, the NAS is still a single device. This means, a power surge can kill the server, which can take the drives along with it. And I am not living in Japan anymore. Electricity in Japan was very stable and it only failed once during my 5 and a half year span there. That was on March 10, 2011 when the massive 9.0 scale earthquake hit Fukushima. I think we can excuse that.

I am not saying the power delivery in Australia is unreliable. It is yet to fail since I have arrived here as well, and I've been here for more than 10 months. But Japan runs on Electricity (literally, because of the electric trains), thus it has to be very stable and has to have a lot of fail-safes in place and power headroom. Australia runs on fossil fuel, both literally (i.e. cars and logistics) and figuratively (i.e. power is generated using fossil fuel). Good thing is, the consumption is much less than Japan with 1/7 the population.

Back to my backup plan...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Creating a folder on a remote file share is very slow in Windows 10 Anniversary Update

I have a NAS that runs Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. I have my desktop PC which runs Windows 10 Anniversary update. I Recently noticed that whenever I wanted to create a folder in the NAS from my desktop PC, it would take a long time for the folder to be created. Long time here means about a minute or longer. This would make Windows Explorer very not respond until the folder is created.

After experiencing this several times, I did a workaround. I would create the folder locally and cut and paste it into the NAS. This would work without issues. But every now and then, I would forget to do this and I have to curse myself for forgetting to do the workaround.

Today I decided to check if this was a widely known issue. I came across this thread on TechNet which exactly described what I was experiencing. Many people had joined the discussion and there were few workarounds that had popped up.

  • Disable Windows Search (not sure if it is on Windows 10, Windows Server or both)
  • Use PowerShell to create the remote folder.
  • Use 3rd party Windows Explorer replacements to create the remote folder.

Literally just minutes after I visited the thread, someone posted on that thread saying that Microsoft had fixed this in build 14965 which is only available for insiders on the fast ring.

We’ve fixed an issue where File Explorer might crash when creating or renaming a folder on a network share.

Since I am not really entertained by frequent troubleshooting anymore, I stick to final stable versions of every software I install. So, I guess I won't be getting this fix for a while. For now, I will just have to disable Windows Search, which doesn't work properly anyways. I use a 3rd party app called Everything to search files, which gives results super fast.

Edit:

Looks like disabling Windows Search service fixes the issue. I disabled it on both the client and the server and now the folder creation is instantaneous.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

So...what happened to my laptop buying plans?

I was hoping to upgrade my almost 5 years old laptop soon, but both Microsoft's and Apple's pricing screwed things up.

The Surface Book with Performance Base starts at a whopping A$3,599. The MacBook Pro 13" starts at A$2,199 (although it could be had for less than $2,000 for a limited time from The Good Guys, which is much lower compared to Microsoft's offering, but still that's too much money for the return. These are using dual core CPUs from last generation.

I want a laptop with a touch screen. I would love a detachable screen so that I can use it as a tablet to read stuff. There aren't many options in that category. Surface Pro 4 is a good option, but that's last year's tech and goes for almost $2,000 for a decent specced model. I could get the last year's Surface Book for much cheaper than the new one as well, but still it is over A$2,000.

I don't need a dedicated GPU. I am fine with the integrated GPU. I do not plan on gaming on it. I have a desktop for that, if I can find time.

If I want a pure laptop (not a convertible), the Dell XPS 13 was a great option (the Skylake model, not the KabyLake model as it is pretty expensive too) until I found out that it was plagued with a hissing noise (like a coil whine) which is noticeable. Otherwise, I was really impressed with it when I tried one out at the JB Hi-Fi. It is beautiful, fast and lightweight. Well, it is not cheap either.

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