Get a great backup program for free

By Scott Dunn

My lead story in the July 12 newsletter explained how you can get Vista Ultimate features in Windows XP or versions of Vista that aren’t as expensive as Ultimate.

Several readers have written in with even more ways to save money and get useful add-on programs that are free or inexpensive.

Acronis True Image free for Maxtor, Seagate users

Reader John Willoughby writes in with news that’ll interest many disk-drive buyers:
  • “Acronis can be obtained free if you have a Maxtor or Seagate hard drive. I just downloaded it last week.”
Here’s the scoop: As reported in the Inquirer, Seagate provides one free downloadable utility called DiscWizard and another called MaxBlast5 for use with their Seagate technology or Maxtor disk drives.

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The important thing to note, however, is that both utilities are based on an OEM version of Acronis’s well-regarded True Image backup application. According to the Inquirer’s report, both free utilities support the creation of disk images, partitions, the cloning and formatting of disks, and more. Thanks for the tip, John!

XP can fax, DriveImage now Vista compatible

In my July 12 story, I recommended a couple of faxing applications, one of which didn’t support Vista. Reader Loren Barrett writes in to remind me that Windows XP doesn’t need third-party faxing software, because a fax capability is built in. It’s Vista Home Premium that lacks faxing ability. For those who don’t know about XP’s fax services, Loren provides some helpful instructions on his Web site. Thanks, Loren!

While we’re on the subject, I also stated that DriveImage XML (a free, disk-imaging backup program) was not Vista compatible. This is not correct; version 1.21 does indeed support Vista and can be downloaded from the Runtime Software Web site.

Version of FileHamster runs on Flash drives

For those who don’t mind installing a freeware product, my July 12 story also mentioned a file backup and versioning product called FileHamster. A reader named Charlie points out that a “non-install” version of FileHamster is available at the Mogware Web site. This version is useful for those who want to keep the utility on a portable Flash drive without having to install it on each computer you use.

Simply unzip the download file to your Flash drive, placing it in the directory from which you want to use it. Then double-click the .exe file to launch it. Thanks, Charlie!

DeskJet driver saves ink on other HP printers

In the Known Issues column on July 12, I pointed out the cost-saving measure of setting your printer driver to “Monochrome” if your printer uses colored ink even when printing black-and-white documents. (You can look at a printout with a magnifying glass to check this.) If you own a Hewlett-Packard printer, however, changing this setting may not be possible.

Fortunately, reader Scott Lewis of San Antonio, Texas, has a solution for you:
  • “I have a HP Photosmart P1000 printer, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get black-only output. My workaround is to use ‘Add a New Printer’ manually in Windows.

    “Go to the Printers section of the Control Panel and click Add Printer. In the dialog boxes that follow, I select a local printer and uncheck the option to Detect and install a plug-and-play printer. I make sure to select the same port (USB, parallel, etc.) that the color printer is attached to. I then manually select an HP DeskJet 500 printer from the list of printers that Windows displays. I finish installing this printer and set it as my default printer.

    “Since the drivers for the DeskJet 500 know nothing about color, I get pure black ink from the black cartridge and no color from the tri-color cartridge. Every HP inkjet printer I have come across is backward-compatible with the DeskJet 500.”
Thanks, Scott! If you don’t have an HP printer, you can try a similar strategy to see if a driver for a black-only printer from your manufacturer will perform the same trick.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-07-19: