Your reply to “Buyer Beware” ( August 2018) about buying all the components at one time does not fix real- life problems. I bought an Asus B350 motherboard and an AMD Ryzen 5-2400G within a week of each other. To make a very long story shorter, after building the system, I had no video. After calls to Asus support, I was told that the motherboard had an outdated BIOS and had to be shipped back to them for a BIOS flash update. Great. They wanted me to ship the board back at my expense, they would update their outdated BIOS, and ship back to me. I pay for the shipping to them, wait a week or more, and then might have a working system. They refused to pre- ship me an updated motherboard (at their expense— I was willing to have a hold placed on my credit card until returned), explaining their policy to me about updates.
I intend to return the Asus board, and buy from a reliable company that might have true customer support. So, problems do exist even if all the components are purchased together.
– Jeff Goodstein EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ALAN DEXTER, RESPONDS: That’s a really unfortunate turn of events, and you have our sympathies. There’s a chance this sort of thing can happen when resellers have stock that then needs updating to take into account new chips, particularly when those processors are APUs, and you need access to the integrated graphics.
One option you do have (if you haven’t already returned the board) is to pop a graphics card into the motherboard and update the BIOS yourself, although this requires a spare graphics card to achieve. Even still, it’s a shame that Asus couldn’t have been a bit more flexible with sorting out the problem for you.
I read your August article on the Samsung 970 Pro 512GB M. 2 SSD. The article indicates a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface is needed, and that the NVMe control protocol is required. My computer is a 2011 HP Pavilion PC p7-1067c, which has PCIe interface slots, and I am running the latest version of Win 10. Will the Samsung SSD work on my computer, or is the PCIe interface too old? – George Clendenin EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ALAN DEXTER, RESPONDS: The first specification for the NVMe protocol was finished the year you bought your machine, but the first hardware to support the standard didn’t start shipping until 2013, and consumer options surfaced even later. So, unfortunately, your machine is too old, and doesn’t have the necessary protocol support to use the drive.
You also need to physically connect the drive, which isn’t as straightforward as you might think—you can’t simply plug it into a PCIe slot; it needs to be an M. 2 connector. While there is a PCIe mini card connector on your motherboard, it isn’t compatible. At the time these motherboards were produced, the main focus of these slots was for updating the wireless capabilities of the machine, not for adding super-fast storage.
Essentially, then, if you want to experience the joys of a quality NVMe M. 2 SSD, you’re going to have to upgrade your machine. Given your machine is seven years old, you could maybe treat yourself to something a bit newer and faster— unless, of course, it does everything you want
already, in which case, such an upgrade isn’t necessary.
Fit for Purpose?
Just wanted to mention that CloneApp, while promising, is not really ready for prime time. Although it is up to version 2, it is so buggy and missing features that it should be a 0.9 beta. Did anyone fully check that out before suggesting it?
– Salvatore Fattoross EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ALAN DEXTER, RESPONDS: While we admit that CloneApp may not be able to do everything you could want from a backup tool, and indeed only supports a limited number of applications (roughly 250), the fact that it’s free offsets this a little. If you don’t have a lot of applications installed, then it could be all you need. Obviously, if you have a lot more installed, then chances are it’s going to struggle. But yes, we did test it beforehand.
For off- site backup, we recommend Carbonite for our business customers. We recently recovered 25 computers, with associated design and drawing data, for a manufacturing company whose main office building burned. Successfully, because the company was using Carbonite. Why was there no mention of this excellent product in your recent article? It has suitable offerings for individuals up to and including larger companies.
We do agree with the good words about Syncback, our regular recommendation for individuals. – Clare Zickuhr EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ALAN DEXTER, RESPONDS: Carbonite is indeed a great option for business (and speaking to our IT guys, Veeam is also a worthy contender), and while we didn’t mention it in the article in question, that doesn’t mean that we don’t rate it, or recommend it. It’s purely a case of trying to cover the most relevant option for our readers. The problem with backup software is that there are now so many options, with so many specific uses, that it’s difficult to recommend something that will appeal to everyone.
I was very pleased to see the “Bargain Hunting” article in the July issue. I did that very thing with this machine back in 2010. It’s an HP/ Compaq 5320f, which came with a dual- core 2.8GHz Athlon II, 3GB of RAM, and onboard Nvidia 6150se graphics.
I'm a Linux user whose only system- intensive application is SecondLife, so it worked fairly well for me. (I have the PS3/ PS4 for any gaming.) Then, as the years went on, I upgraded it bit by bit.
I first slapped an EVGA GT220 in there in 2011, then a GT640rev2 SC 1GB GDDR5 in late 2013, alongside a Cooler Master 550W power supply. In 2014, I maxed out the RAM (I thought) to 4GB, and then upgraded the CPU to a quad- core Phenom II 925. Last year, I discovered that the mobo does support more than 4GB (someone reported that it could handle 8GB), so I upped it to 8GB of Kingston FuryX, and upgraded the video card to an EVGA GTX 1050 TI SC 4GB. Last week, I decided to take a chance and see if the mobo could handle 2x 8GB SIMMs, so ordered me up some Kingston ValueRAM, installed them yesterday, and they’re fine.
I can't really upgrade the CPU and RAM any further, and the CPU is probably the weak point now, so I was thinking about doing a system upgrade next year by finding some bland office refurb box with a nice CPU, and doing the same thing I had been doing. And lo and behold, your article shows up with some great pointers. Thanks! – Ron Rogers Jr. EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ALAN DEXTER, RESPONDS: Glad you enjoyed the article. We’re planning on revisiting this idea later in the year with a couple of machines, to see what sort of magic we can weave on the tightest of shoestring budgets.
Routing for You
In the July issue’s letters, you requested input as to desires for router reviews. I would appreciate a comparison of router security support policy. That is, how long will vendors continue to support devices with firmware security updates? I’d like to see a stated policy guarantee.
I have a Linksys router that is a subject of VPNfilter malware. It is a model still available at retail. Linksys states it is end- of- life, and does not appear to be planning a firmware update.
I would also appreciate a VPNfilter article that is more explicit as to the stage1attack vector. After a reset to defaults and a change of password, is the device safe, or is a firmware change mandatory (making my Linksys device obsolete)? Also, if a router offers a settings backup/restore, is it safe if defending against VPNfilter? – Jon Roling EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ALAN DEXTER, RESPONDS: Hopefully, this month’s deep dive into the technology powering Wi- Fi will sate your hunger a little, until our router roundup appears. We’ll be taking a look at the growing problem of router security in a future issue, as well.
Excellent article on “Perfect Backups,” providing info that’s very good to know and think about now and then. I’m sharing my method, suggested product (I am a long- time satisfied user, nothing else), and question. I use a Windows 10 Home x64 Dell PC, with 1TB SSD, and two HDDs (2TB each; different manufacturers, to ensure failures don’t happen together, hopefully).
Typical OS and programs on C, user data on D, second HDD F ( WD Black) as backup to C and D, and USB HDD (6TB) as remote backup (only connected when backing up, and stored elsewhere).
I use and recommend a backup program called Second Copy. It’s low cost, and has worked for me since Win XP, through Win 7, and now Win 10. I’m now using Second Copy version 9. The author is very responsive to bug fixes ( very few; none critical). I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, have had no problems, and very few recoveries have been needed so far.
My method is to use Second Copy to back up C and D data automatically to F on a scheduled basis, with control over how, when, what, and where from/ to. I can manually run any profile as needed from the taskbar.
For any critical work, I might simply manually copy files to the F drive and/or the USB HDD.
I back up the OS image et al using Win 7 Backup and Restore, and the F drive to the USB HDD two to four times a year, depending on the importance of data. I store the USB HDD offsite.
This approach works for me. Do you see any potential flaws I should consider changing? Feel free to share my concept with magazine subscribers. – Doug Schafer EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ALAN DEXTER, RESPONDS: The thing about any backup regime is that you need to trust what you do and actually use it, and given you’ve been doing this for 10 years, you’ve obviously got a system that works and that you’re happy with. We wouldn’t change a thing for that reason alone.