Sunday, February 13, 2011

HP SimpleSave - Revisited

Last year I added an HP SimpleSave 1TB External Hard Drive to my ever expanding desktop disk farm, and I did a post shortly thereafter extolling its virtues. Not only did it increase my storage capacity, it also automatically backs up my systems on a regular basis, and it’s large enough to be useful for both purposes.

After having it in service for a few months, I’m still pleased with the device, but… I have a little user tip that I’m way overdue in sharing.

This drive kicks off an auto backup after 5 minutes of system inactivity, which is a great way to insure that you’re always backed up, but the timer settings can’t be tweaked, and if you have a document open the SimpleSave program write locks it in preparation for backup after about 4 minutes of idle time. That’s just too short. It’s so short that even a quick bio break can trigger it.

Usually my first hint of trouble is an error message that pops up to the effect of: “Saving the Auto Recovery file is postponed for (your file name here)”, which means that Word has tried to do an auto-save on the document, and failed.

The consequence is that any changes you’ve made since the last time you’ve saved it, or the last time Word has done an auto-save, are going to be lost when you close the document. Word still prompts you to save the document when you try to close it, but that fails also.

When it catches me, I’ve usually just started creating a document and I’m cooking along, so when I see that error message I know the whole thing will be lost if I don’t engage in evasive maneuvers.

If it catches you, the fix is simple, although it’s a pain. Click Edit, Select All, and then Copy. Now close the document without saving changes, and then open it again, click on Edit and Select All again, and then paste.

Note: Be sure to go down to the system tray, right click on SimpleSave and selct Exit before you go any further, otherwise you’ll be painting yourself into the same corner.

The real fix is to either remove SimpleSave from your startup, or right click on the system tray icon and select exit before you start anything. I prefer to leave it in the startup and then kill it when I’m going to be working. It’s a pain, but that way I don’t have to sweat whether or not I’ve done a backup in times of crises.

Of course, the ultimate would be if HP made the idle time setting selectable, but I’m not holding my breath. I will, however, be holding my water.

That is all.

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