Review: DrivePop

DrivePop had an interesting Black Friday special:  Unlimited storage backup for life for 5 computers for $89.99.  There is an annual maintenance fee of $4.99.  Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it.  We’ll I tried it.

The following is what I learned:

  • DrivePop does not backup external hard drives.
  • It does not backup network drives.
  • It does not backup NAS servers.
  • What it does backup are logical drives internal to your computer.  This includes internal hard drives, internal SSD’s, and internal RAID arrays.
  • It is not like Dropbox, Skydrive, or Google Drive.  It is more on the same level as iDrive.   DrivePop is more like a backup service than a file syncing/sharing service.
  • If you upgrade the operating system on your computer from Vista to Windows 8, DrivePop will treat the upgraded OS as a different computer instance than the old OS even though it is the same hardware.  Making no change to the computer name makes no difference.  As far as DrivePop is concerned, the upgraded OS is a different computer then the old OS.  The result is that DrivePop will back up the same files all over again as if it was never backed up before.
  • If a file was backed up by DrivePop and then you delete it on your computer, the file will be in DrivePop cloud storage for 30 days.  After that, the file is deleted from cloud storage.  DrivePop is not a archive service.  DrivePop is like a disk mirroring service.  You have to keep a file in your computer in order to have DrivePop keep it in cloud storage.
  • DrivePop encourages only personal data files to be backed up, not system files.
  • DrivePop has versioning up to 30 versions.  That means that DrivePop will store 30 versions of the same file.  If you make changes today but want when to restore a change made some time ago, DrivePop can restore 30 versions of the same file.
  • DrivePop seems to use LiveDrive servers for the cloud services.  When you subscribe to DrivePop you’ll get a LiveDrive address for your account.  Oddly, you’ll get separate accounts for DrivePop and LiveDrive.

I have about 3.5 TB of data.  I learned it will take a long time for DrivePop to backup all 3.5 TB of data.  I set the DrivePop upload speed to 50 KB/sec.  I set this speed to 50 KB/sec instead of maximum because the maximum setting was adversely effecting my regular web browsing.  My maximum Internet upload speed is about 100 KB/sec.  According to my calculations, if I keep my computer running 24 hours every day at a backup speed of 50 KB/sec, it would take 2.2 years to back up 3.5 TB of data.

Moreover, I don’t keep my computer on all day.  I keep my computer on for about 6 hours per day.  That means that six hours a day is spent backing up files to the cloud. So for me, it may take 8.8 years to upload all 3.5 TB.

DrivePop is not really a good replacement for external hard drives.  I wouldn’t throw away external hard drives because of DrivePop.  One time, I had to destroy and restore a RAID array of about 3.5 TB of data (I was upgrading a motherboard and that meant migrating to a new RAID controller.)  Backing up 3.5 TB of data took about 1.75 days in a USB 2 connection.  A USB 2 had a transfer rate of about 20-25 MB/sec.  In USB 3, the rate was about 90-100 MB/sec and it took about 9 hours.  As for DrivePop, I don’t know what the maximum download speed is during a restore.  My Internet connection has a download speed of about 2.3 MB/sec.  So let’s say the download speed for a restore is 2.3 MB/sec.  So according to my calculations, it would take 17.6 days to restore 3.5 TB.

Now, DrivePop is a pretty good solution for not so large data files.  Let’s say you had a Quicken data file that suddenly got corrupted.  (I had this problem.)  If DrivePop was configured to back up the data file, you can log in to DrivePop and you can restore up to 30 versions of the file.  I had a similar problem with source code.  I thought I accidentally deleted some source code, so I restored a backed-up copy of the source code from DrivePop.  DrivePop was handy in two occasions.

Now, DrivePop is not so good with large data files, like Outlook .pst files.  If your .pst file is about 1 GB in size and you open it every day whenever you open Outlook, DrivePop is not going to have time to completely back the up the file because it is changing too frequently.

I use DrivePop to back up my personal files which are mostly in the Documents folder excluding the .pst files.  I also exclude Photoshop .psd files because they are too large and DrivePop would take too long to back them up.

There is one weird thing about DrivePop.  If you connect to your account through the LiveDrive application, you’ll get an unsecured connection to your account.  In this connection, you can change your password.  If you change your password, the new password is transmitted unencrypted.  As a test, I sniffed my own connection using WireShark and entered a fake old password and fake new password.  On WireShark, I saw the passwords being transmitted unencrypted.  There is a fix – add https:// to the URL and you get a secured connection. Strange that the connection isn’t https by default.

I ran a little test to test the maximum upload bandwidth to the LiveDrive servers, and I was surprised. On my home network, I have a DSL connection with an upload speed of about 100 KB/sec. I didn’t measure the speed but I had to limit the upload speed to 50 KB/sec because at any higher speeds my web experience would suffer. I tried DrivePop on a cable network with an upload speed of 1 MB/sec. I could not get the upload speed to go higher than 30 KB/sec! I tried iDrive on the same cable network and it uploaded 1.59 GB of data in 24 minutes. It seems DrivePop might be faster on my DSL than cable. I can’t explain it.

So is DrivePop worth it?  Maybe. It really depends on a number of factors. If you normally save your files on an external drives, DrivePop isn’t going to help you because it does not backup files in external drives. If you have large files, like .pst and.psd files, I would look for another solution because it will take a long time to back them up.

If you have many small and medium size files, then DrivePop might be worth it. Just turn on DrivePop and let it do its thing. It may take months to back up the documents but it’ll get there.

Links:  DrivePop

PIM’s: Outlook vs. alternative

(I recently changed this blog post.  I changed my mind about Outlook 2013.)

It was time for me to consider upgrading from Outlook 2007.  What I was looking for was an offline email client, a calendar manager, and the ability to sync the calendar to my Android.  I checked out a number of PIM’s, and it came down to two apps:  Outlook 2013 and eM Client.

Here are what I learned from these two applications:

  • Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2007 do not connect to Yahoo mail.  For some reason, both apps cannot connect to the Yahoo POP or IMAP mail servers.  eM Client can.  So does Thunderbird.
  • You can use the same pst file for both 2007 and 2013.  Outlook 2013 does not upgrade the pst and does not render the pst file useless to 2007.  If you’re just using 2013 on a trial basis, you can revert to 2007.  There is one caveat:  Don’t set the default profile through the control panel if you want to use 2007 again.  You’ll get a warning about this if you try to do this.
  • eM Client syncs with Google calendar.  This is an advantage if you already use Google Calendar.  If you setup eM Client to connect to you Gmail account, it will connect to your Google calendar and display it in eM Client.  Whatever changes you make to it through eM Client, the changes will reflect to the Google calendar.  Outlook does not sync with Google Calendar.  The best you can do without getting a syncing application is that Outlook can connect to Google Calendar but only as read-only.  You cannot modify Google Calendar through Outlook.
  • All three apps, sort of, cannot sync with Calendar.  I think this is a bug with  For awhile 2007 and eM Client was able to sync with the calendar in, but recently they were not able to.  2013 always had problems with the syncing.
  • eM Client is free if you use up to two email accounts and for non-commercial use.  Otherwise, it is $49.95 for the Pro version.  You can buy two licenses for a total of $79.95.  You can try the Pro version for 30 days.  Outlook 2013 is normally priced at $109, but you can get it for $88.  You can try Outlook 2013 for 30 days through Office 365 Home Premium.  You have to go through Microsoft to get the trial.  Here is the link to Office 365 Home Premium.

From what I learned, I think I am going with Outlook 2013.

2007 is a little buggy but so is 2013.  2013 crashed when it tried to read my pst file for the first time.  It said that the pst file was corrupted but 2013 still crashed.  I repaired the pst file and 2013 came right up.  2013 hung once.  2013 doesn’t sync with Calendar very well.

The only issue with 2007 is that 2007 sometimes doesn’t start up after I close it.  There is some 2007 background task that prevents 2007 from loading again and I have to terminate it through the task manager.  This is not a common problem.  It happens seldom.

Here are some a annoyances with 2013.  There seems to be a slight lag in 2013 when I am typing a new message.  I doubt it is because I have a slow computer.  I have an Intel Core i7  4770K processor with 32 GB of memory.  Another is that the font is too big when I look at the list of new email messages.  The larger font makes it difficult for me to scan the list of new messages quickly.

eM Client turned out to be a pretty good product.  It is an email client and a calendar client.  It syncs with Google Calendar pretty well.  It does the weather forecasting in the calendar that 2013 does. There is was one feature that was nifty and that was the Deduplicator feature.  It looks for duplicates and gets rid of them.

There were a few annoyances that I had with eM Client.  First, eM Client didn’t setup my Calendar after importing from the pst file.  I had to delete the setup and then set it up again.  After setting up again, Calendar was setup in eM Client.  Another annoyance was that when you go through the list of new emails by selecting them one at a time, the email needs to be selected for 5 seconds before it is marked as read.  This is a problem if you just want to mark new email as read just by selecting the email.  To fix that, go to Tools->Settings.  Select Mail->Read.  Change the first item on the list from 5 seconds to 0 seconds and click OK.

One drawback with eM Client is that some Internet security suites such as Panda does not provide a toolbar for eM Client.

There is one feature Outlook 2013 has that is worth noting.  When you’re reading an email, Outlook will will display a list of emails related to the one your viewing.  Let’s say you’re reading a friend’s email.  Outlook will list previous emails sent my your friend.  Neither 2007 or eM Client does this.

Another interesting feature of 2013 is that Outlook can sync with your Facebook and LinkedIn pages.  Let’s say you get an email from somebody.  2013 will look up if the sender has a Facebook page and if so display the person’s picture.

If you don’t have Outlook and want an offline email client plus calendar management, consider eM Client.  It is free if you have 2 or less mailboxes and if it is for personal use.  Even if you have to buy the Pro version, it is less expensive than Outlook 2013.

If you want just an email client without a calendar, consider Thunderbird.  It is free and there are no restrictions to the number of mailboxes.  I think you can use it for commercial use.

If you have 2007, it might be worth the upgrade.  At first, I didn’t think the it was worth the upgrade but after learning the new features it might be worth the upgrade.  It is nice for 2013 to bring up a list of previous emails from the sender whenever I receive an email.


eM Client

Office 365 Home Premium



Missing nvata.sys?

I got a message on my computer saying that nvata.sys was corrupt or missing.  This occurred when I started up a Windows XP machine.  I fixed the problem and this is how I fixed it.

But before you try the fix, press F8 when Windows starts up and select the Last Known Good Configuration option.  This might fix the bootup problem.

For the fix, you’re going to need another computer with Internet access, a Windows XP installation CD, and a USB drive.  Download 7-Zip and install it.  Then download nForce4 drivers from NVidia.  My machine has a nForce4 chipset.  Your machine might have a different chipset.  If so, download the drivers for that chipset.

Instead of installing the driver exe, you going to extract nvata.sys from it.  Right mouse click on the exe and select 7-Zip->Open Archive.  Inside the archive, nvata.sys should be located in \\IDE\WinXP\sata_ide.  Copy the file to a USB drive.

Connect the USB drive to your troubled computer and insert the XP installation CD in the CD drive.  Reboot the machine.  You should see a prompt asking you to press a key to boot Windows from CD.  Press a key.  Wait for the install CD to run.  You should see a prompt of options.  Press R for repair.  You should be at a console.  Select the Windows install that your going to repair.  It might be selection number 1.  You’ll be prompted for an administrator password.  Enter it.  You should now be at a prompt much like DOS.

Type ‘map’.  Figure out which drive letter your USB drive is mapped to.  Once you figure that out.  Go into it.  Locate nvata.sys in your USB drive.  Now copy the nvata.sys file from you USB drive to your machine, e.g. ‘copy d:\nvata.sys c:\windows\system32\drivers’.

Remove your USB drive and Windows CD.  Reboot your machine.  And your problem should be fixed.