Windows Backup

After installing Windows 7 in place of OS X on my MacBook Pro for work, there are only a few things I miss. But man, they were really nice.

  1. Unix shell
  2. Time Machine

The first one I’ll just say if you haven’t used a Unix-like shell of some type (Bash, zsh, whatever) then it’s hard to explain. Just that you can do everything a GUI can do (save for graphics work), but much, much faster. It’s very powerful, especially with file management.

Compared to Windows Backup, Time Machine is light-years ahead. Mainly because it’s a ‘set it and forget it’ type of thing. Here’s the number one problem with Windows Backup, it doesn’t overwrite the oldest backups. That’s right, no rolling backups. So guess what happens when your backup drive is full? It doesn’t backup. Great! If you’ve disabled the annoying Action Center, it silently fails.

Windows Backup


You have to manually delete older backups. Here’s the process:

  1. Remember to check Backup status
  2. Start Windows Backup and wait for the service to start to show status
  3. Realize it’s out of space and doesn’t have any recent backups
  4. Click on “Manage Space” and wait for another window to load
  5. Click on “View Backups” to show the list below
  6. Click on a backup period to select it
  7. Click delete
  8. Click “Yes” on the confirmation
  9. Wait for it to be deleted
  10. Repeat steps 6-9 until a satisfactory amount have been removed

Windows Backup

6 clicks, at a minimum, to ensure you’re backup is working. That’s pretty lame. Also, there’s no way to encrypt your backups without BitLocker (not available in all Windows 7 flavors) or a 3rd party tool. Time machine does all of that, automatically. And it’s easy to navigate. And it tells you when things go wrong.

Windows bugs

Over the years I’ve noticed a couple bugs that are present in in some or all of NT/Vista/7. I experience these on a daily basis, across dozens of computers. So it can’t just be me, right?

  1. Focus bug. If the timing is right, some windows remain on top despite clicking on a background window. The background window obtains focus, but does not move to the front. This is typically when the foreground window does some focus changing action (Showing a dialog, opening a new tab, etc.). Clicking on (focusing) the foreground window then refocusing on the background one fixes it.
  2. False maximization. When restoring windows from standby when a window is maximized and different monitor configuration than when last powered on, the window will no longer be maximized (it will be in windowed mode at or near full width and height), but the window manager buttons are in the maximized state (the restore button is shown in place of the maximize button–clicking it maximizes the window, the opposite of what it’s supposed to do).

There is one or two more less common ones, but these are all I can remember at the moment. I just wanted to get them down.

This PC loves Adobe

So much, that it installed multiple copies of the same Flash updates:

Actually, it appears to be a registry glitch rather than multiple copies. As much as I don’t like Adobe’s updating/installation practices (opted-in toolbars, programs), they do have a relatively easy to find and use Flash removal application.


QEMU on Windows

After fumbling around with various downloads and patches, I was able to find a working QEMU build for windows. I am running Windows 7 64-bit, and I wanted to run an ARM system (specifically, to develop for a Stratus plug computer). Before this, I was running a virtualized Ubuntu using VirtualBox and then running QEMU within that. Performance was not noticeably bad.

However, I had problems bridging the QEMU to the Ubuntu host, which was bridged itself. I stumbled upon a page about emulating a Rasberry Pi within QEMU on Windows. The QEMU download link there was the ticket.

Ignore the rest of the post there, all you need is QEMU. Using the kernel and ramdisk here (and instructions from here), you can install Debian on your ARM system.

To launch, first create or download a disk image. Then copy the qemu-system-arm.exe from the bin folder to QEMU’s root folder (it was easier than specifying the paths manually). Then, you can modify the last line in the batch file provided (qemu-win.bat):

qemu-system-arm.exe -M versatilepb -L . -m 256 -hda arm.img.backup -kernel vmlinuz-2.6.32-5-versatile -initrd initrd.img-2.6.32-5-versatile -localtime -append "root=/dev/sda1"

That’s assuming your image and kernels are named as such. The kernel will crash if you try to specify more than 256MB of RAM, however building a custom kernel is now possible.

My next task will be to see if I can bridge the network interface. If not, I’ll go back and try the virtual virtual machine approach again–since appears to be faster anyway…

Winows(QEMU) vs Windows(Ubuntu(QEMU))