Never Trust Your Hosts With Your Backups

On Saturday, 123-Reg informed their customers that one of their scripts had gone wrong, resulting in around 67 servers being accidentally deleted. As these were all un-managed VPS servers, there were no backups.

This came just days after someone posted on Server Fault  asking for help after one of his scripts also went wrong, deleting the accounts and data of all 1,500 of his customers. All his backups were also deleted by the same script.

While the latter case is now claimed to have been a publicity stunt, it does raise an interesting question about the safety and security of web hosts own backup solutions.

The Dangers Of Trusting Your Backups To Your Web Host

Often a web host will offer a backup solution for an additional price on top of the hosting package. This is often configured as a location on a remote backup server, which is mounted as a drive on the web server for easy access.

This seems to be the kind of backup solution offered in the second example above, and as we can see it proved to be next to useless. Sure, it would help in the event of a physical hardware failure on the server, but for every other case, it is of no use. It doesn’t protect against mistakes made by the host, it wont protect against hackers or viruses penetrating the server, and it certainly doesn’t help in the event of the host going bankrupt.

If the lights go out at your hosting provider – how do you access the backup to restore your data on your new server?

The Preferred Way – A Third Party

The only way you should ever consider doing backups is with a third party company. In almost all cases, they will provide you with a piece of software that does the physical backups. This creates a nice air gap between your server and the backup, keeping them safe from viruses and hackers. The fact that they are owned by a different company protects you against bankruptcy, and they will almost certainly be in a different physical location, again offering protection from extended failures or loss of a data centre.

Anyone not using a third party for backups is just putting all their eggs in one basket. And we all know not to do that, don’t we?

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Remote Desktop & High DPI Displays

When I received a new work laptop last month with a 4k screen, I began to come across all sorts of issues with various programs. While some applications scale nicely, others do not. One of my biggest pains has been with using Remote Desktop.

Here’s a typical remote desktop session window:



With the server running at 1600×1200, and my desktop at 3840×2160, you can see that the remote desktop window takes up less than a quarter of the screen. On a 15″ screen, that makes the text almost unreadable!

Remote Desktop doesn’t support scaling, but fortunately Remote Desktop Connection Manager does. You can download it here:

Now I can scale the Remote Desktop window, and save having to squint at the screen all day long!



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Windows Power Plans

I recently received a new laptop at work – a 2.4Ghz i7 with 16 Gb of memory.

That’s quite a beast of a laptop, so you’d think it would have no problem coping with Visual Studio 2013. But over the last few days it’s been frustrating me a little – there’s a noticeable lag when typing, and Visual Studio as well as various other programs were performing a little slow.

I immediately disabled all extensions, and removed the recently installed virus checker, but to no avail.

It wasn’t until I checked Task Manager that I noticed the problem, CPU usage was 0% of 0.77 Ghz.

That can’t be right!

It turns out I had switched the power profile last week while running on battery, and changed to “Power Saver” mode. I thought these settings only took effect when running on battery? Apparently not. I’m now back on “High Performance”, and Visual Studio is once again responsive.

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Changing The DPI Scaling In Windows 8

Screen real estate is important – so much so, when I was looking for a new laptop, it was one of the key factors I considered. I like to have enough space to have the Visual Studio Solution Explorer open, while still being able to see plenty of code, and ideally still have enough room to see at least part of the web browser next to it – the more the better.

Despite wanting a portable laptop with a 13″ screen, I wasn’t prepared to accept a screen resolution any less than 1920×1080. I eventually found one that met my needs.

On receiving the laptop however, I was disappointed to see that I didn’t have as much space as I had expected. I could barely view a single web page, and to say VS was crushed was an understatement. I double checked the screen resolution, and sure enough it was indeed 1920 x 1080. What was wrong?

It turns out Windows 8 will scale the DPI depending on the size of screen and resolution selected. While this gives a sharper image, it comes at the expense of real estate. It’s an easy enough fix if you’d rather have the space back, however.

How To Adjust Size In Windows 8

Right click anywhere on your desktop. In the popup menu that appears, select “Screen Resolution”


The Screen Resolution dialog will appear. At the bottom of this dialog, click “Make text and other items larger or smaller”


You can now adjust the slider to resize items on the screen. I’ve set mine to the smallest possible setting, but on a 13″ screen this may be a little too small. I’ll need to have a play around with this over the next few days.



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