At one time I only used SuperDuper! (I’m dropping the exclamation from this point on) to create a backup image to an external disk that’s directly attached to my Mac. Because I don’t keep my external drive connected to my Mac I wanted a way to have a full image backup done automatically every night. This way I’d always get a full image backup without me needing to actually do something. I decided to use my Synology NAS for this, although any NAS or home server share should work.
I use my Synology DS1511+ NAS as my repository for everything backup. I created a new share on the NAS since no existing share was really suitable. I’ll use one share for all my SuperDuper images so that they’ll be easier to find and manage. I called it “SuperDuper” (imaginative, I know). My ID has read/write access to the share.
I could keep the drive mounted all the time and simply schedule SuperDuper to do the backup every night. But I dislike having my backups always connected to the computer they are protecting. SuperDuper will automatically mount the share if it’s not mounted. This was recent news to me, learned as I was creating a macro to auto-mount the share and found that SuperDuper was doing it already. This is SuperDuper 2.7.2 and OS X 10.9.2, both the latest versions at this time. I created a Keyboard Maestro macro to unmount the drive when SuperDuper exits.
It’s been over a year since I recapped what I use so it’s past time for an update. The timing is also good since I’m about to begin re-examing the way I do things and this will get me going. Not too much has changed in over a year, which means either what I use is pretty solid, or I’m complacent, or I’m lazy. I’d like to think it’s because they’re solid choices.
Windows Home Server
It seems like there was always constant change in this area. So I was a bit surprised to see that not much has changed.
Even though Windows Home Server 2011 is a dying product it won’t drop off support in April 2016. My server has been solid and I don’t have any plans to replace it until I need to, or something clearly better for me comes along. It has four 3TB drives (no RAID) for data storage and a 160GB drive for the OS. It’s an HP MicroServer with a AMD N36L processor and 8 GB of RAM. The server is used primarily for video files and other files I want long term storage for but don’t use frequently. The only add-in is Cloudberry Backup for Windows Home Server 2011.
Things have been stable here too. My Synology DS1511+ NAS was reduced to 1 expansion bay and a total of ten 3 TB drives back in October 2012 and that’s where it still stands.
The DS1511+ is dedicated to backups. The WHS box does a backup to it using Cloudberry Backup via a ISCSI connected drive. It serves as a Time Machine backup destination for all my Macs. Until I retired my web server it backed up to the Synology NAS using rsync. My other Synology NAS boxes also back up to it.
The Synology DS212+ NAS that I added in May 2012 is still going strong. I did swap the two SSDs with two 500GB Western Digital Velociraptor drives in a Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). In this case the SHR is just a mirror. This runs my Synology applications and serves my critical data files from an encrypted share. Synology applications include CloudStation, Photo Station, Audio Station and Video Station, all of which have mobile apps.
My original Synology DS212J is still used for testing and experimentation.
Both the DS212+ and DS212J are run the latest DSM 5 beta which has been reliable. I need stability from the DSM 1511+ so it’s still on DSM 4.
Desktop & Laptop Computers
This is where there have been the most changes, and where the most changes are likely to occur in the near future.
Synergy is used for mouse and keyboard sharing between my desktops and the laptop when it’s at my desk.
Mac OS X
My MacBook Air was replaced just days ago with a late 2013 MacBook Pro. The MB Pro is a 13″ Retina Display with 16GB of RAM, a 2.4GHz I5 cpu and a 256GB SSD. While the CPU is a step down, I found I rarely needed the CPU horsepower but I was severely memory constrained. The Air maxes at 8GB and that wouldn’t have been enough for me.
My desk has a late 2012 Mac Mini with a 2.3GHz i7, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion drive. It was just moved to be front and center on my desk so it’s hooked to my primary monitor which is a Dell S2340T monitor. It also drives a second monitor, a Acer H223H 23″ monitor.
My Windows hardware remains the same but now runs Windows 8. The drives have changes. There are now two SSDs in RAID 0 as a 500 GB system drive and two more SSDs as a 500 GB RAID 0 data drive. I recently added a 2 TB spinning drive for file storage. The RAID 0 (scary RAID) is provide by the on-board controller and has been surprisingly reliable. Backup is to the WHS server using the connector software. The ancient Apple 20″ Cinema Display is now attached to this Windows box and the universe hasn’t exploded.
I moved the Mac Mini to be front and center on my desk, replacing the Windows 8 desktop because I’m considering going “all-in” with Macs as my desktops and laptops. Part of this is because I want to free up the desktop hardware for other uses. The desktop hardware is the most capable hardware I have for some server testing. It helps that I’m finding myself more productive on the Macs.
Portable, Mobile and Media Devices
My Windows RT came and went. I liked it, a lot actually. But it was still rough around the edges and I found I wasn’t using it much anymore. I may get a replacement in the future but for now it’s gone.
I still have the third generation iPad and also don’t use that very much. It never leaves the house. It’s primarily used for viewing videos from Amazon or from my Synology NAS. I also use it for viewing reference books on my desk through Kindle reader.
I have a Nexus 7 with AT&T wireless and this is the tablet that leaves the house with me. I ended up using very little AT&T data but I like having it available without needing to tether. I also gets a lot of use around the house. Except for Amazon it used the same way as my iPad. There are a few additional apps on it that I’ll cover in future posts.
My primary phone is an iPhone 5S on Verizon. I still have my Nokia 928 Windows Phone which is also on Verizon. I like the Windows Phone OS but the apps are frustrating. It’s not the lack of apps, but the quality. I don’t know if they’re buggy because they are hard to write or because not enough resources are dedicated to writing the apps. For example, I need to constantly bookmark the audio books in Audible because it frequently forgets where I am. The frustration drove me back to using the iPhone as my primary phone.
I have a Microsoft Wedge Mobile keyboard that I use primarily with the Nexus 7 although it works with the iPad and iPhone too.
You can see the iOS apps I’ve tried on Applr although I’ve only begun to review the apps and favorite the ones I like.
My TV is still the same Vizio 42″ and the DVD player is the same LG BD670. My TV viewing has changed from basic cable to a digital antennae for over the air broadcasts.
I still run pfSense on an HP MicroServer and it’s still reliable. The HP ProCurve Gigabit Managed Switch that could do link aggregation was destroyed in a water pipe break and wasn’t replaced. Basic NetGear Gigabit switches are currently used.
The Netgear WNDR3700 router still does wireless duties. It’s dual band and I have both a 2.4 GHz and a 5 GHz wireless network. The 5 GHz network gets less interference so it’s the network of choice whenever possible. A D-Link DAP-1522 serves as a wireless bridge to my workbench.
My ISP is still Comcast and they’ve been reliable as long as I don’t have to talk to a person. It seems every human interaction requires a follow-up or three to fix a new problem. Luckily these interactions are rarely needed.
I’m finding Mac apps are allowing me to be more productive. So I’ve been tentatively moving away from my focus on cross-platform apps. This has just begun so we’ll see where it leads.
Productivity & Communication
I use Google Apps for Domains for most of my email. I do use Microsoft Outlook.com for one heavily used email.
My primary browser is Google Chrome but I use Firefox too. With my emphasis on using OS X I just started trying Safari as my primary browser. It’s improved over my last attempt but the jury is still out.
LastPass is my password manager. I have a Microsoft Office 365 Home subscription and it’s my Office suite.
I have several cloud services but primarily use three of them. Synology’s CloudStation is my private cloud. There’s no Internet storage but all my devices can get back to my Synology NAS and sync over the Internet.
Microsoft OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) also gets a lot of use. My phone photos get saved to it automatically, my Office docs use it, and I use it whenever I do want offsite storage.
I use a free DropBox account for apps that require it for syncing.
Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Drive haven’t caught on with me although I do use them in cases where they integrate well with an app or service.
My finance app has switched to Quicken. It’s the least annoying of my choices. This is mainly because it can easily do online updates of all my accounts. I’ve skipped this year’s upgrade and will consider alternatives again when support runs out with their 2015 release.
Backup & Security Software and Services
As I mentioned, I run the Cloudberry Backup on my Windows Home Server. It backs up to both offsite to Amazon Glacier and locally to my Synology DS1511+ NAS. For my Macs I use Arq Backup for offsite backup to Amazon S3 and Glacier and Time Machine for local backups to my Synology DS1511+ NAS. My Windows machines, both physical and virtual, use WHS backup. They don’t store critical data so there’s no offsite backup.
I also use CrashPlan on my Windows Home Server for redundant offsite backup.
I use Microsoft Security Essentials on my Windows PCs, including virtual machines. I use Malware Bytes on my main Windows PC. I don’t use anything on my Macs and rely on safe computing habits. I do use ScriptSafe and NoScript in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. I haven’t found a comparable add-in I like for Safari.
Digital Media and Entertainment
I dropped my Netflix subscription after it went unused for two months. I liked the online streaming and some of their exclusive shows but just didn’t use it.
Video is from my own DVD library or Amazon Online Video. My DVD library is ripped to files and sits on my WHS. I copy some video files to my Synology NAS to simplify viewing on my devices. I also use VLC Media Player for viewing. Slysoft AnyDVD along with Handbrake to rip and transcode my DVDs. MakeMKV is used on the few Blue-Rays that I have.
I have Amazon Prime and do view Prime Video. I also buy some TV series through Amazon Video which is considerably cheaper than a cable TV subscription.
My photo management is messy at the moment. I mainly use Aperture to organize and touch-up photos I’ve taken since they are raw files. JPGs and others usually just get saved in a folder structure. Synology Photo Station is used to manage and view pictures in those folder.
Evernote is my primary information organizer. Pinboard is my bookmarking service. I no longer use Sumatra PDF for viewing PDFs, I find both the Windows and OSX native viewers fine for my needs.
LogMeIn is still my current remote access tool although the free version is going away. My free version extension is up in July and I’ll switch to something else before then.
VirtualBox runs my virtual machines. It’s free and good enough for my needs.
Path Finder is my file manager of choice on OS X. Transmit is my FTP client of choice and is also Mac only.
That about sums it up in just under 2,000 words. I suspect applications will be changing in the next few months but hardware should be pretty stable for the rest of the year unless things start breaking.
Most people move from the hosted WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) site. They want the flexibility of a self-hosted WordPress site. In my case I’m going the other way. I’m moving my self-hosted WordPress site to WordPress.com.
Why am I doing this:
Simplicity – everything comes from WordPress and is hosted by them. I don’t have to worry about an update to WordPress breaking my theme or a plugin. WordPress.com won’t be perfect, but it is simpler.
No more updates – I’m paranoid and want security updates applied immediately. Even if the updates aren’t security related (although it seems most are these days) I hate running old software as I figure there’s a landmine in there just waiting to blow up on me. It seems like there’s a never ending string of updates these days so I spend more time doing maintenance than I do writing or exploring. it doesn’t help that these updates seem to arrive at the worst time.
Technically, photos are not exported. They are imported if the old site is online and the photos are accessible by WordPress.com
Photos that use relative URLs in posts will not be imported because WordPress.com cannot find them. They must include the full URL.
Some of my photos did not get “attached” to the post although they still appeared in the post. This is more a media library management issue. It’s not something that affected me but it may affect you if you really need that mapping. They can be manually attached after the import. See step 8 for more information.
If you use the JetPack plugin on your self-hosted site and you want to migrate the data contact WordPress.com support. They can probably migrate the data. I did not use JetPack so did not deal with this.
It will cost $13/yr. to map your existing site domain name to the new WordPress.com site. This will allow all exiting external links to still work and search engines will not have to process and re-directions or site renames.
If your existing domain is used for anything other than your WordPress site you may need to research the DNS setup. WordPress.com provides good documentation and automation for using Google Apps email along with several other email providers. I use Google Apps for email. I don’t include those instructions here because the WordPress instructions worked fine.
There will be a DNS change at the end. To speed this up you may want to lower the TTL for your old sites DNS entries a couple days before making the change. This isn’t critical but may speed things up. I set mine to 30 minutes.
Doing the Move
So here’s the basic process I followed to move this site. The screenshots are from a blog I used to test this process (osquest.com).
I initially did all my testing and site design on a test blog with a small number of posts and comments. This meant that there was minimal time between when I imported the full site and I actually cut over since I already knew the settings I wanted and the tweaks that would have to be made.. This is recommended.
You’ll need to create an account at WordPress.com, if you haven’t already.
In your WordPress.com account select the “Create Another Blog” button in the “My Blogs” section of your account.
On the next screen enter an address for your blog. Since we’re moving a blog that already has a domain name this isn’t very important. Do not enter your current blog address. We’re going to transfer the domain name along with the blog. But we need a WordPress.com sub-domain to get going. The first screenshot shows that the address I wanted is already in use.
Once I pick a name that’s available at WordPress.com I select the option to keep my blog private which means users will need a logon ID to see it. This will be changed once the site is ready to go on WordPress.com.
Then put in the name of your blog. This can be changed later, so you may want to name this slightly different than your other site so that you don’t get confused during the migration, but other than that there’s no reason not to use the same name as your self-hosted site.
Then select the “No thanks, I’ll use the free address” selection.
Scroll down the screen and click the “Create Blog” button under the “WordPress.com Beginner” column. You can pick one of the packages if you absolutely know you want all the features. You can add these features later at the same bundle price if you want. There’s no benefit to picking them now. Personally, I do not use the bundles since the add-ons I want cost less than the bundle.
You’ll receive the confirmation message once the blog is created (almost immediately). You can click “Visit your dashboard”
Check your privacy settings, You don’t want visitors and you don’t want your site indexed until it’s ready to go. Go to “Reading” under “Settings” and verify that the site visibility is private.
Now go to the Dashboard of you old site, the one that’s self-hosted. Go to the “Export” section under “Tools”. Verify “All Content” is selected as the items to export. Then download the export file.
You’ll be prompted to save the file. I just use the default name and save it to the desktop to make it easy to find. Just remember the name and location. Do not shut down your old site or change the domain name. The site must remain online to import the photos and images.
Once the file is saved, go back to your new WordPress.com site dashboard. It’s time to import. Select “Import” under “Tools” then click “WordPress as the import type.
You’ll be prompted to select a file. Select the file you downloaded in the previous step and click “Upload and import”.
You’ll be prompted to map any authors. This does not mean the authors have any actual posts, just that they are set up as users. Map them as you see fit, which is probably all to your WordPress user. Click “Submit” when you are ready. As previously mentioned your old site must be online so the photos can be imported.
You’ll be told that the import is running. Depending on the blog size and current WordPress.com load this may take several hours. (Up to 24 per WordPress.com).
You’ll receive an email when the import is done. You may see posts and data appear before the email but be patient and wait for the email, it is still working to import and link things up.
Photos seem to be the biggest import problem area, both in my testing and in the forums. After the import go to the “Media” section (of the new WordPress.com site) and select “Library”. Some things to check:
Is the number of photos close to the number in your old site? Note that unused photos will not be imported.Do you have a lot of unattached photos? Is this more than what your old site had?
If you have a lot of new unattached photos you may want to contact WordPress.com support through the forums. In my case the difference was minimal and I didn’t meed them attached. They were in the library and appeared in the correct posts.
Before you start cleaning things up go to “Settings” then “Discussion”. Uncheck “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article”. You do not want to notify blogs just because your cleaning things up. You can turn this back on once the new site is live.
At this point you want to pick your theme and site design and verify your settings. Then go through your posts and make sure they look OK. Due to the volume I mainly just checked the most recent year and the posts that get a lot of visitors. Your old site should still be up and running. If you post articles or get comments on the old self-hosted site you will need to transfer them over.
Once your new WordPress.com site is ready to go “live” here are the steps.
If you use the JetPack plugin on your self-hosted site go in and disconnect it from WordPress.com. If you don’t do this the old site will remain in your WordPress.com dashboard.
Now we need to buy the domain mapping. In the dashboard of the new WordPress.com site select “Store” then click the “Buy Now” button for “Add a Domain”
Then select “Map a Domain Name You Already Own”
Enter in the domain name used for your self-hosted site.
Even though you already said you’ll be using your already owned name you’re told the domain is in use. Verify you didn’t make a typo and then select the option to use the domain.
Complete the wizard to purchase the domain mapping option.
The domain will be made the primary domain for your site. If you need to change it you can select “My Domains” under the Store section of the dashboard.
You’ll need to change the DNS servers for your domain. This varies by registrar but the domain servers should be ns1.wordpress.com, ns2.wordpress.com and ns3.wordpress.com. It may take some time for the DNS change to propagate. I’d recommend leaving your old site online for a couple of days to avoid people getting a site not found message.
Time to go public. Navigate to the “Settings” -> “Reading” section of your new site and change the Site Visibility to “Allow Search Engines to index this site”.
Now your new site is alive an in public. You’ve moved from self-hosted WordPress to WordPress.com hosting. An external links will go to the correct page on the new site, no redirects needed.