Back up all your data—and we mean all of it—to your NAS box without installing any software

If you know anything about NAS (Network Attached Storage), you know that it’s a great centralized backup receptacle for your PCs. If you didn’t know, we just told you. Actually, the name is bit of a giveaway: NAS is storage that you attach via ethernet or Wi-Fi and access across the network. What that doesn’t tell you is that most NAS boxes have the smarts of a PC, with a full-blown app environment that includes extensive backup abilities.

But there are two things that even NAS-aware users might not realize: First, many NAS boxes are perfectly capable of backing up data from PCs running any type of operating system (e.g., Windows, OS X, or Linux) from anywhere, using nothing more than their integrated utilities. All you need to do is configure the PC to give up its data, and then use the NAS box to grab it.

Second, most NAS boxes can also sync with OneDrive, Google Drive, DropBox and other cloud services to keep your mobile data backed up, too. Sadly, Apple’s iCloud is one of the few services that is not widely supported. But there are ways, and I’ll cover NAS/online syncing at the end for this article.

There are of course any number of ways to back up to a NAS box that can be invoked locally; i.e., from the PC or device you want to back up. But nearly all involve installing software or client apps or using native backup solutions. Some NAS vendors even provide their own proprietary client/server solutions. Indeed, if you want to back up whole partitions or drives to images, you can only do it from your PC.

But if you’re like me, the last thing you want is yet another program bugging you with reminders, warnings, and other messages, not to mention chewing up CPU cycles that you might want for more useful purposes. Why not just use the integrated file-sharing capabilities of computers and leverage the software on the NAS box, instead?

I’ll show you how to use the backup and sync apps on a NAS box in a bit, but first you need to select a sharing/transfer protocol and configure your computers.You have two choices: SMB (Server Message Block), which is simple to set up on PCs, or FTP (File Transfer Protocol), which can work both locally and remotely. FTP is almost universally supported by NAS boxes for remote-to-local backup, while for some reason, SMB isn’t always.

Your NAS box might choose the protocol for you. WD, for instance, only supports FTP for backing up to the box, Seagate supports SMB and FTP, while Synology doesn’t support either on many of its less-expensive boxes.

The chart below lists some of the more popular NAS box vendors and which protocols they support for remote to local backup.

[Daily Deal] 56% off the Pugo Top Apple Watch Stand

The Pugo Top Apple Watch Stand is on offer today with a 56% discount. Get it within the next 3,5 hours for just £11.99. At 10.6 ounces, it’s heavier and more stable than most stands so that it doesn’t fall over your bedside table. The Apple Watch charger (not included) fits easily on the back of the stand and the cable is hidden. Made of aluminium, the Pugo Top Stand also has a rubber base to ensure the Apple Watch remains secure.

You may also be interested in the following offers

£62.88 for the 240GB Goldendisk SDD
Revive any computer with this SSD by Goldendisk. With 240GB of storage space, it’s 10 times faster than a standard 7200RPM hard drive. It’s also totally silent and more reliable as the SSD has no moving components. Get the 240GB Goldendisk SSD for just £62.88.

Get the EFOSHM Fitness Bracelet for £29.99
The EFOSHM Fitness Bracelet can track your daily activities and monitor the quality of your sleep. It counts steps, calories burned as well as distances. The built-in screen displays time and alerts, and vibrations let you know when it’s time so get out your sit. The tracker is compatible with Andoid and iOS smartphones. Get it today for just £29.99 with free delivery in the UK.


Save 71% and get the Rampow MFI Lightning Cable for £6.29.
Charge and sync your Apple devices with this Rampow MFI (Made For iPhone) Lightning Cable. It’s compatible with all 8 Pin Apple devices including the iPhone 5, 5C, 6, and later, but also iPod Nano 7, iPad mini 2, mini 3, mini 4, iPad Air, iPad Pro and later. The nylon cable provides additional protection against bent damage and the USB and Lightning casings are protected by an aluminium shell.

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Netatmo Weather Station review

If – like most of the British – you’re obsessed with the weather, and you also love gadgets, Netatmo’s Urban Weather should be right up your street. It works with an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Android device, but even if you don’t have one of those, you can see the data on Netatmo’s website

The kit consists of two sensors, one which stays indoors and another which resides outdoors. Information is sent via Wi-Fi to your router, and uploaded to Netatmo’s servers.

To view the data, including temperature, humidity and pressure, you can install the free app for iOS or Android. As long as you have an internet connection, the app displays the latest data from your station and can give you alerts.

Update March 2017: Netatmo has added support for Alexa to its Weather Station. Owners of both the station and an Amazon Echo (or another device with Alexa) can ask the assistant “Alexa, ask Netatmo what is the outside temperature” and get a spoken response rather than having to check the app. Just search for the Skill in the Alexa app, or ask Alexa to enable the Netatmo skill.

Below is our original review, written when the Weather Station launched in 2013.

Netatmo Weather Station review: Features and design

Both sensors look sleek in aluminium and white plastic, and the mains-powered indoor unit has a strip which glows various colours depending on its status.

The smaller outdoor sensor is powered by four AAA batteries and has a recess on the back for wall mounting (a wall plug and screw are included along with batteries). It isn’t waterproof and the manual suggests you place it under the eaves of your house. Netatmo says the batteries should need replacing only once a year, but as we’ve had only a couple of weeks of testing, we can’t verify that.

Being a keen gardener, I put it in the greenhouse at the bottom of the garden, some 40m away from the main sensor. Netatmo claims a range of up to 100m, but that’s with no obstables. I had one or two signal problems during my testing, but there were several walls between the sensors. Moving the indoor sensor so there was only one wall separating the units solved the problem. 

As the units are pre-paired, that’s one less job to do and makes for very easy installation.

Netatmo outdoor sensor

Netatmo outdoor sensor

Once you’ve installed the app (there are separate iPad and iPhone versions), you connect your device via its USB cable to the back of the main sensor and the app detects it automatically. You then pick a Wi-Fi network, enter the password and set a name for your station.

UPDATE: The latest version of the kit has only a micro-USB connection and setup is automatic via Bluetooth instead of a wired connection. Your Wi-Fi settings are cloned from your iPhone, so there’s no need to enter a password.

With that done, can you tap the top of the sensor to take a manual reading and check everything is working.

There’s no subscription fee, so while the initial cost is fairly high, there are no subscription costs to pay.

Netatmo Urban Weather Station: apps

Netatmo iPhone app

Netatmo iPhone app

I used both the iPhone and iPad apps and both are pretty good. The iPhone’s smaller screen means you don’t see as much information at once, but rotating it switches to graph view and sliding the bottom portion of the main screen downwards reveals more outdoor details (such as 24-hour low and high temperatures) plus a seven-day weather forecast.

Netatmo iPhone app graph view

Netatmo iPhone app graph view

Sliding it upwards displays more details about indoor conditions such as CO2 and noise levels. Unfortunately, it doesn’t measure carbon monoxide.

Both sensors also measure humidity, but only the indoor module can sense barometric pressure.

There are some default alerts, such as when the CO2 level exceeds 1000ppm, but you can set custom alerts for any measurements.

For me, that meant I could set alerts to tell me if the greenhouse temperature got too high or too low: information that could save the loss of plants worth considerably more than the price of the kit.

You can create as many alerts as you like, and disable any or all of the default notifications.

There are plenty of uses for notifications. One of the defaults alerts you if the pressure drops more than 2mbar in an hour (an indicator of poor weather) and another warns if the indoor temperature goes below 10 degrees (alerting of a possible central heating failure).

Being able to view a graph of any measurement over time can be helpful in certain situations, but like the ability to record sound levels, may be an unnecessary frill for some.

Automatic measurements are taken every five minutes, so there’s plenty of data to pore over, and it’s easy to pinch to zoom in and out of graphs. We’d like to see an option for an absolute scale, though. Graphs automatically adjust the y-axis depending on the data, instead of starting at zero.

You can give others access to your Weather Station: all they need is the app, or to log in to the website:

Netatmo Weather station review

Netatmo Weather station review

If you buy more than one Weather Station, it’s easy to switch between them within the app.

Additional indoor sensors are available to buy at £59 each and can be used to monitor temperature and air quality in more than one room. Up to three can be added.

You can’t buy extra outdoor sensors, but the rain gauge is £59 from John Lewis.

Netatmo Urban Weather Station: rain gauge

Netatmo rain gauge

Netatmo rain gauge

The latest addition to the Urban Weather Station is a rain gauge. It isn’t quite as stylish as the aluminium sensors in the main kit: it’s made entirely from plastic.

It’s powered by a pair of AAA batteries (like the outdoor sensor) and is obviously waterproof. It uses a tipping bucket mechanism to measure rainfall: a magnet passes a solenoid and the number of tips is counted. Netatmo says it’s accurate to within 1mm/hour (measuring as little as 0.2mm/hour).

Unless you’re a farmer, you probably won’t be too bothered by accuracy, though, and if you do need accurate measurements, the gauge can be calibrated in the app.

For most people, the two main reasons to add a rain gauge to your Urban Weather Station will be to set an alert when it starts raining (so you can nip out and get the washing in) and to figure out when you need to water your garden. You can see the current rainfall in the app (or on the website) as well as cumulative rainfall.

Otherwise, apart from the novelty of being able to track when and how much it rained, there’s not much incentive to spend an extra £60 or so on the gauge.

We tested the gauge before it went on sale and the app hadn’t been fully updated from French to English, leaving us to add a Nouveau pluviometre. Once paired, you can place the gauge up to 100m away from the base station. We tested at around 25m with several walls in the way and had no signal problems. (Note: The app has been completely overhauled since the review was written.)

Netatmo rain gauge add module

Netatmo rain gauge add module

Netatmo rain gauge app

Netatmo rain gauge app

Graphs of rainfall over time are available when you select the gauge from the drop-down menu

Netatmo rain gauge app graph rainfall

Netatmo rain gauge app graph rainfall

Netatmo Urban Weather Station: bottom line

We’ve already mentioned that there’s no carbon monoxide sensor, and another gripe is that there’s no display on either sensor, so you can’t see the temperature without firing up the app.

Even though you can now pick it up for just under £120 it’s still a lot of money given that a basic weather station with an outdoor sensor  and hygrometer can be picked up for around ten times less.

The advantage with the Netatmo, of course, is remote monitoring and alerts. If you need these features, and want to be able to track measurements over time, the price may not be such a barrier.

Add Jim Martin to your Google+ circles and follow Jim Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

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MacBook Pro latest rumours – release date, UK price and specs

MacBook Pro latest rumours – release date, UK price and specs

In October we saw a new MacBook Pro with Touchbar, but we’re expecting another update in 2017 and it might come powered by AMD, not Intel. Read the latest rumours on the 2017 MacBook Pro specifications, price and UK launch date.

All the information you need about the new Apple MacBook Pro


By

In October Apple unveiled its long-awaited MacBook Pro with a fancy new Touch Bar, but we won’t be waiting as long for the next update.New MacBook Pros with updated processors – potentially Intel Kaby Lake chips – are expected this year, . We outline the 2016 MacBook Pro UK release date, price and specification, plus new MacBook Pro 2017 rumours. See also: Best laptops 2017.

Also see: Apple October Event as it happened | MacBook Pro with Touch Bar review

When is the 2017 MacBook Pro release date?

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting updated MacBooks with Intel Kaby Lake processor later this year. Kuo says new 12in MacBooks will enter mass production in Q2 (March), potentially with a new 16GB RAM model.

Meanwhile new 13- and 15in MacBook Pros will begin mass production in Q3 (July). In Q4 (September) we could see a high-end 15in MacBook Pro with 32GB of RAM as “the most significantly redesigned product this year”.

What are the rumoured specifications?

The notion of new MacBook Pros in 2017 is backed up by a new Bloomberg report. It says a new model is planned for later this year but it might herald a shift away from Intel processors. According to people familiar with the matter the chip, codenamed T310 and built ARM technology, will handle low-power functionality and work along the main Intel processor.

This move could mean better battery life as moving the ‘Power Nap’ feature to the new chip will use even less power. Apple’s ARM-based T1 chip is already in the latest MacBook Pro – see below.

But what about AMD Ryzen? An article on Arcitosh.com suggests “AMD’s new Ryzen 7 CPUs look to promise more computing muscle per watt than Intel and offer a nicer philosophical fit for Apple.”

The current MacBook Pro isn’t much faster than the model it replaced, since Apple looks to provide performance while conserving battery life. Arcitosh suggests that rather than producing its own or using Intel’s chips to look for the ultimate performance per watt, it could instead use AMD’s Ryzen CPUs. 

As with Microsoft and the Surface Pro 5, Apple is apparently considering AMD for the 2017 MacBook Pro. In fact, it could be powered by the upcoming Raven Ridge APU – a combination of Ryzen chipsets for CPU and Vega-based chipsets for GPU. Raven Ridge was originally planned for 2018 but an updated roadmap shows a 2017 release instead.

Watch this space for more updates.

All about the MacBook Pro 2016

In October 2016 on the week of the Apple laptop’s 25th anniversary, Apple announced the best MacBook Pro yet. There are 13- and 15in models with new all-aluminium designs that are significantly thinner and lighter than their predecessors, just 14.9mm thin and 3lb for the 13in model and 15.5mm and 4lb for the 15in model.

The new MacBook Pros, available in Silver and Space Grey, have a two times larger Force Touch trackpad and a new context-sensitive Retina display Touch Bar that replaces the row of Function keys. Touch ID is also built-in with Secure Enclave and protected with Sapphire glass.

MacBook Pro 2016

MacBook Pro 2016

The new Touch Bar consumed most of Apple’s demonstration, and it does look cool. What functions it offers entirely depend on the app you’re in. For example, you might get emoji in the Messages app, favourite sites in Safari, and options to reply or delete in Mail. In Photos are useful editing controls, and we particularly like the look of the quick type function in relevant apps, which may speed up typing.

The keyboard itself has also been improved, with new second-generation Butterfly-style switch mechanisms that are more responsive and offer better travel.

MacBook Pro 2016

MacBook Pro 2016

The new MacBook Pro is a sixth-generation Skylake machine with a 2133MHz Intel Core i7 inside (you can opt for a Core i5 in the 13in model). There’s up to 2TB of storage via a superfast SSD, and in the 15in model AMD Radeon Pro graphics with up to 4GB VRAM (the 13in model has Intel Iris graphics).

Apple says the 15in model is 130 percent faster than its predecessor on graphics, 60 percent faster for gaming, and 57 percent faster for video editing. The 13in model, meanwhile, is 103 percent faster than its predecessor for gaming, and 76 percent faster for both video editing and 3D graphics.

MacBook Pro 2016

MacBook Pro 2016

The display is better than ever, now 67 percent brighter with 67 percent higher contrast and 25 percent more colours.

Each MacBook Pro is fitted with four Thunderbolt 3 ports that can go up to 40GB/s. Each of these ports can be used for power or as Thunderbolt, USB-C, DisplayPort, HDMI or VGA connections.

MacBook Pro 2016

MacBook Pro 2016

How much does the MacBook Pro cost in the UK?

The new MacBook Pro comes in three models, all available direct from Apple.

1. 13in MacBook Pro without Touch Bar and Touch ID, 2GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, Intel Iris Graphics 540, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 2x Thunderbolt 3. Available today for £1,499 ($1,499).

2. 13in MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID, 2.9GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, Intel Iris Graphics 550, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 4x Thunderbolt 3. Shipping in three- to four weeks from £1,749 ($1,799).

3. 15in MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID, 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, AMD Radeon Pro 450 Graphics, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 4x Thunderbolt 3. Shipping in three- to four weeks from £2,349 ($2,399).

Want to learn more about the new MacBook Pro? Check out our in-depth guide on our sister site Macworld.

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.

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AMD gets defensive over criticisms of Ryzen processors

AMD has come out defending its new Ryzen processors, addressing concerns which have recently been aired on possible problems with Windows 10’s thread scheduler, and temperature-related issues.

In a blog post on AMD’s community site, the company said it had investigated reports of Ryzen suffering decreased performance levels at the hands of incorrect thread scheduling.

AMD said that: “Based on our findings, AMD believes that the Windows 10 thread scheduler is operating properly for ‘Zen’ [Ryzen], and we do not presently believe there is an issue with the scheduler adversely utilizing the logical and physical configurations of the architecture.”

The company further claimed that there’s no issue with scheduling differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10 affecting Ryzen CPUs based on the ‘limited’ available evidence, adding that any performance gaps are likely due to differences in the overall software architecture of these operating systems.

Move along

In short, regarding the whole thread scheduling controversy, AMD is saying there’s nothing to see here – move along.

From our point of view, even if there was certainly some kind of an issue, any performance hiccups caused by nuances of the operating system are likely to pale in comparison to the true problem behind the complaints of 1080p frame-rate woes – namely games which aren’t yet fully optimized for Ryzen.

AMD has previously said that 1080p performance will improve as developers get more time to optimize for Ryzen processors, and that some 300+ game devs are currently working on doing so. But this will obviously be a slow process happening over time, game-by-game.

The company also said it had investigated reports of SMT (simultaneous multi-threading) causing poorer performance in some games with Ryzen, concluding that SMT should “generally see a neutral/positive benefit” in games, and AMD has observed this across many titles.

For any outliers AMD asserted that once more, further optimization of said games should prove beneficial.

Not so hot

Finally, AMD made a statement on the temperature Ryzen processors are reported to be running at by the main sensor on the chip (the ‘T Control’ sensor).

With the Ryzen 7 1800X and 1700X models (but not the 1700), this temperature is actually reported as 20 degrees C higher than it is in reality, with this offset being implemented to ensure all processors have a ‘consistent fan policy’.

So if your chip seems to be idling at 50-something degrees C, there’s no cause for concern, as it’s actually running at 30-something as you’d expect. In the long run, temperature monitoring utilities will be patched up to read this offset, and report the correct temperature for the CPU.

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When cell phone disaster strikes, you have some options

One of the most common and saddest inquiries we get at Answer Line is how to retrieve photos and videos from a phone that’s been stolen, or that’s been dropped in water and no longer works. You may be able to save the phone or its data if you try these steps. 

In case of a dead phone, you can most likely get the data back using a recovery service—at a very steep price. DriveSavers, a longtime player in the data recovery field, charges $700 to $1900 for a 128GB iPhone, depending on the amount of data involved. They’ll check whether it can be recovered for free, but birth and wedding images aside, that’s probably more than most users are willing to pay.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

In the case of theft, we’re sorry to say you’re out of luck—at least if that’s the only place your stored your files. We hope you backed them up. We’ll tell you how to make sure they’re backed up in a bit, after we cover a few tips for making the best of bad situations. 

If you drop it in water

If you drop your live cell phone in water, turn it off immediately and remove the battery as quickly as possible. If it died before you could turn it off yourself, the rest of this might not work, but you can try (and start mulling over the recovery option).

After the phone is off, dry it thoroughly. Two common methods are to use a hair dryer held at a safe distance, or submerge it in a jar of rice. Once you think it’s dry, wait another 24 hours just to make sure, then cross your fingers and turn it on. If you were able to turn it off, your chances are rather good—but no guarantees.

Change account passwords if your phone was stolen

Unfortunately, if your phone is stolen, and the thief manages to unlock it, every app that you’ve signed into will be at their beck and call. You should immediately go online and change the passwords to those accounts.

Back up automatically

All the major phone operating systems offer free protection for your files: Apple with iCloud, Microsoft with OneDrive, and Android with Google Photos. As your email, contacts and calendars are most likely already part of those data ecosystems, they’re already duplicated online and on your other devices. But for reasons of privacy, you need to explicitly enable backup of your photos and videos.

Hands-on with the jacket with Google woven in

A partnership between Levi’s and Google has yielded the Jacquard, a denim jacket with technology woven into the fabric.

Once paired to a smartphone via Bluetooth, the jacket allows the wearer to control key functions with just a brush or tap of the cuff. A double tap with two fingers, for example, starts or stops music.

The BBC’s North America technology reporter Dave Lee tried it on for size.

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC (http://twitter.com/daveleebbc)

Video journalist: Cody Godwin

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