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  Notebook Shadow Features

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Contents
Introduction Backup Synchronise Shadowing
Source Files Destination Folder Shadow Set Automatic Operation
Scheduling Shadow Runs Manual Control Enhanced Run Time Control Multiple File Versions
Excluding Files Shadow Volumes Briefcase Mode Aggressive Backup Mode
Network and Remote Connections Detecting Connections Status Information Deleting Files
Resilience and Error Conditions  

Introduction

SolarSys Notebook Shadow (and the sister product Disk Shadow) is designed to provide complete and reliable backup and sychronisation for laptop PCs, desktop PCs and servers. It can handle your backup requirements automatically by operating unobtrusively in the background while you continue to work.

You create your work - Notebook Shadow makes sure you don’t lose it.

Notebook Shadow has many features that are particularly relevant to mobile executives as it can cope with changing environments:

  • Sometimes connected to the office network.
  • Sometimes working away from the office and dialling in to the network remotely.
  • Sometimes using an external storage device like a zip drive.

This document gives a summary of the key features of Notebook Shadow. [ contents ]

Backup

SolarSys Notebook Shadow will backup files in one or more folders. Sub-folders can be included or excluded. This is useful if you want to have your work backed up in one direction from your PC to a backup device or server. You can compress your backup files to save space by using Shadow's WinZip compatible compression feature. [ contents ]

Synchronise

Two or more folders can be synchronised so that the latest version of a file always exists in both folders regardless of where the change was made. Sub-folders can be included or excluded.

This is useful if you sometimes work on files that are located on an office server, for example, and sometimes on files located on your PC. If you use two way synchronisation both the server and your PC will be kept up-to-date.

You can also force two or more folders to be identical including deleting files from the destination folder that do not exist on the source folder. [ contents ]

Shadowing

Within Notebook Shadow, we refer to both backups and sychronisation by the general term ‘Shadowing’. [ contents ]

Source Files

Source files represent the files you wish to backup or synchronise. To define a source you simply add a new line to the list of ‘Files to shadow’ that contains the path and file name(s) of the file(s). A browse feature is provided or you can simply drag and drop a folder or file off explorer onto Notebook Shadow and your backup will be configured.

For example, a source could be c:\My Documents\*.*. This represents all the files in the folder My Documents. You can be more specific by using part or all of a file name, for example c:\My Documents\*.doc, or c:\My Documents\Letter.doc.

The source files can exist on the local drive or on any connected device e.g. a network PC or server or storage device such as a zip drive. [ contents ]

Destination Folder

Source files can be directed at a default shadow folder (destination) or the destination folder can be specified explicitly.

If you use the default shadow folder then the shadow will preserve the complete folder structure of the original files including a ‘drive folder’. This means you can shadow files from more than one disk drive and Notebook Shadow will record precisely where the files originated.

If you specify an explicit destination folder then Notebook Shadow will preserve only the folder structure of the branch being shadowed. This means you can control precisely where and how your files are shadowed.

The destination folder can exist on the local drive or on any connected device e.g. a network PC or server or storage device such as a zip drive. [ contents ]

Shadow Set

The combination of one or more source and destination pairings (shadow set line) defines the shadow set. The shadow set is specified within the ‘Files to shadow’ list in the main Notebook Shadow form.

In addition to the source and destination, there are many options that can be used to configure the shadow set lines, either globally or individually, to define precisely if, how and when the files should be shadowed. The main options are described below.

An unlimited number of shadow set lines can be defined within the shadow set which means that Notebook Shadow can handle both very simple and very complex shadow requirements.

Use the Spec Builder to define your shadow set lines within the grid view or type them in directly using the text view. [ contents ]

Automatic Operation

Notebook Shadow can operate entirely automatically. The software can launch itself when you switch on your computer, operate in the background while you use your computer, and then shutdown when you switch off your computer.

In automatic mode your files are always backed up and synchronised in the way you want whenever you use your PC. [ contents ]

Scheduling Shadow Runs

You can define when Notebook Shadow should perform it’s shadow tasks in two ways:

  • Timed Countdown: You can shadow your files after a timed countdown ranging from 0 (actually 5 seconds) to 60 minutes. For example, you could shadow every 15 minutes (the default).

  • Timed Events: You can shadow your files at particular times during the day. For example, 9:00, 13:00 and 17:00. You can specify the same or different times for each day of the week.

You can also use a combination of timed countdown and timed events. You can even specify that particular shadow set lines should only be considered during timed events or on a certain day of the week.

We find that most customers use a straightforward timed countdown but we have included a comprehensive scheduling system so that you can gain precise control over when your files are shadowed. [ contents ]

Manual Control

If you prefer you can control when Notebook Shadow performs it’s shadow runs by using the Run button. If you only want to use this manual control then clear all the timed events and switch off the timed countdown. Note that you can start and stop the timer and initiate a run by right clicking on the system tray icon. [ contents ]

Enhanced Run Time Control

Notebook Shadow has a powerful feature that allows you to operate automatically and maintain considerable run time control at the same time. The feature is known as ‘Querying’.

When you operate with queries Notebook Shadow will detect the files that need to be shadowed and prompt you with the file paths and names, rather than automatically shadowing them. Notebook Shadow will only shadow the files you select from the query list.

When you use queries you can reverse the shadow direction on individual files e.g. force the older file to overwrite the newer file. By default, Notebook Shadow will keep a copy of the newer version in case you made a mistake in overwriting it.

You can elect to have all files queried using the ‘Query all saves’ option or you can specify querying against individual shadow set lines where the file size exceeds a given value. This means you can have some files being shadowed automatically and some files being prompted to you. [ contents ]

Multiple File Versions

Notebook Shadow can maintain up to 9 versions of the same file on the source or destination folder or on both. This means that you can protect against accidental or incorrect updates to a file. [ contents ]

Excluding Files

You can explicitly exclude one or more files from being shadowed in three ways:

  • Globally: Add a file extension (e.g. ‘.tmp’) or a phrase (e.g. ‘tmp’) to the ‘Excluding’ list on the main form. All files that have this exclusion in their path or name will be excluded from being shadowed.

  • Exclusion shadow set line: Add a shadow set line to the ‘Files to shadow’ list (e.g. ‘c:\My Document\*.tmp’) and define it as an exclusion. You can be very precise and define a specific file or you can be general and define file types or phrases. For example, using the phrase ‘My Work’ as an exclusion will exclude all files with ‘My Work’ in their name and all files with ‘My Work’ in their path. You can also combine a phrase and a file type e.g. ‘My Work\*.tmp’ will exclude all .tmp files with ‘My Work’ in their path.

  • Maximum size: Define a global maximum size or a maximum size for a shadow set line. Files over this size will be excluded. [ contents ]

Shadow Volumes

This feature is useful if you:

  • Use an external storage device like a zip drive.

  • Wish to group your shadow set lines and define which group should be active.

If you use external storage devices like a zip drive you can name individual disks and define the files that should be shadowed to that named disk. When the named disk is in the storage device those files will be shadowed. When a different disk is in the device different files can be shadowed or no files if none are defined for the disk.

If you wish to group your shadow set lines, perhaps into those that are relevant when you are in your office and those that are relevant when you are at home, then you can assign a volume name to individual shadow set lines. These lines will only operate when you enter or select the ‘Shadow volume name’ on the main form or select the [All Volumes] option.

In addition, you can make the shadow set lines private to the volume so that they are only visible and relevant when you want them to be. This is a particularly powerful feature and is worth experimenting with until you are familiar with it. [ contents ]

Briefcase Mode

This allows you to synchronise a subset of files from another PC (such as a server) with your PC and shadow those files only plus any new files you create on your PC. This is useful if you have space limitations on your PC or do not want files that others have created in a common folder structure being copied to you PC. [ contents ]

Aggressive Backup Mode

This allows you to force files in the source to overwrite files in the destination even when the destination files are newer or read only. This is useful if you wish to reset files to a previous baseline state, for example, during repeated testing. [ contents ]

Network and Remote Connections

Notebook Shadow operates over a local or wide area network, supports network notation and provides you with access to your network neighborhood. It also operates over a remote connection, e.g. via a modem. If you use a remote (slow) connection you can control the connection time used by Notebook Shadow in two ways:

  • Using the query feature described above to prevent large files from being copied.
  • Setting the "Exclude if remote connection detected /e" option for a shadow set line. If this option is set then the shadow set line will not be backed up if a remote connection is detected. This means that you can have your work backed up automatically when you are in the office but not when you are away from the office and have a slow connection to your servers. [ contents ]

Detecting Connections

Notebook Shadow automatically detects new connections, e.g. to a server or zip drive, when it performs a shadow run. Devices can generally be connected and disconnected at any time and Notebook Shadow will operate correctly. The software is designed to be resilient to changing device connections but can be affected, like all other applications, when servers or network connections are lost. [ contents ]

Status Information

The system tray icon for Notebook Shadow shows the current status of your shadow.

  • Sleep mode: If you do not have any scheduled runs then Notebook Shadow will be ‘asleep’.

  • Successful operation: If you have had a successful shadow run then the tray icon will display a green screen.

  • Evaluating: A blue screen is displayed if Notebook Shadow is evaluating your backup status.

  • Query prompt: A purple screen is displayed if you have queried files to review.

  • Warning: A red screen indicates that you have warnings. It could be that a device is not available, a file cannot be shadowed or that you have run out of disk space. [ contents ]

Deleting Files

You can delete files that have been prompted to you by the query function or that are listed in the shadow log (and hence have already been shadowed).

You can also use Shadow to fully synchronize two or more folders to make them identical, including deleting files in the destination folder that no longer exist on the source folder. This is a very useful however please use it with caution. You should not use it on shadow set lines that represent your actual backups or ones that specify folders that are also used by other people on a server. Experiment with it using test folders and files so that you understand how it works. Also, set the multiple file versions feature to at least 1 and Shadow will keep the most recent version of a deleted file for safety. [ contents ]

Resilience and Error Conditions

Notebook Shadow is designed to operate in the background and allow you to get on with your work. Most status conditions are communicated to you via the system tray icon. Notebook Shadow will always perform all the shadow operations that are available and relevant. If one or more devices are not available then Notebook Shadow will log a warning but will continue to do what it can. As devices become available Notebook Shadow will detect them and perform the relevant shadow operations during the next shadow run. This resilience matches the way in which laptop computers are used – in the office, on the move, at home…

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