The problem started before I even opened the message. It had a subject line of “Hi,” which immediately set off the spam alarm bells. Worse, it started off “Dear Sal.” You’ve got to be kidding. Only my immediate family gets away with calling me “Sal.” Even my fiance doesn’t call me “Sal.” (And don’t any of you out there start, either!) So I was not predisposed toward a positive response.
However, when I went to the website, the product in question (Vision Backup and the associated File Access Manager) looked legitimate, and since I always need something to write about, I’d check it out. Besides, the marketing manager apologized handsomely and promised to hire an editor next time. So now I have two new backup-related products and pro license keys for them.
The purpose of File Access manager, which is designed to work with a number of backup products, is to allow you to back up open files. Some files cannot be copied when they’re open. Your Outlook .pst file is one of them, and it would appear that Quicken files also fall into this category, because if I have Quicken running when my Maxtor backup service runs, the entire backup fails. That means I have to remember to close Quicken by 9 AM (yes, I am the kind of sick person who can get up and do Quicken entry or run reports at 8:00) if I don’t want to have to redo the backup manually or stare at a reproachful red “M” in my system tray until the next day.
The Maxtor Shared Storage II drive isn’t set to back up Outlook. I do that primarily with Karen’s Replicator, and I have to let Replicator finish copying the .pst file before I can open Outlook. (Since Replicator runs when I boot the machine, it almost never happens that Outlook is already open when I run the program. If it is, however, I can’t copy that file, though the rest of my backup jobs work all right.)
Hence the need for something like File Access Manager. Or, at least, the convenience it could add to one’s life, particularly if backup windows are a big issue in your company. (It only takes about 10 minutes, maybe 15, for Replicator to run, and less than that for my Maxtor backup.) I confess to a deep-seated prejudice against backing up open anything in Windows, but that’s primarily an issue for me when it comes to entire system images rather than individual files, and in any case it’s beside the point. Either FAM works and provides usable copies of locked files, or it doesn’t, and if it does, I should dispense with my prejudice.
The first thing that happened after I installed File Access Manager and rebooted was that I got an error message saying that LVCom Server had shut down. I hadn’t realized I was running anything called LVCom Server, so I looked it up. It turns out it’s something Microsoft uses to talk to my Logitech webcam. I don’t even have the webcam plugged in right now (I only connect it when I’m going to use it), so that’s not an immediate issue, but this might mean I’d need to turn FAM off and restart LVCom Server in order to use my webcam.
The second problem was that when I clicked on the preferences and got the “Add Software” section, there was no “add” button. Enna here has 1900 x 1440 resolution, and I prefer not to have to squint at the screen (I am almost 40, after all, and squinting makes terrible wrinkles), so I have my display set to use large fonts. This has a tendency to mess up the way some dialog boxes display, but I can usually get around that by resizing the dialog box in question. (Just put your mouse at the edge of the corner and drag.) Not this time.
So here I am in my display settings switching from 120 DPI to 96 DPI. Which it’s supposed to be able to do without restarting, but appears not to be doing. Which means I get to reboot my computer again. Be right back…
*squint* Okay, This time 1) I didn’t get the LVCom error and 2) I could see (with a magnifying glass) the “Add” button. Of course, I couldn’t activate the darn thing, because I’d forgotten to tell Windows Firewall to let it talk to its servers. Anyway, I added all the backup programs I use to the allowed list—which took a while, since there are several, and it wasn’t clear which .exe file I needed from the Vision Backup folder. I added them all, just to make sure.
Now that I’ve entered my settings, I can switch my display back to something readable, but I can’t do that in the middle of a backup job, because of the need to reboot, so I guess I’ll just magnify my Word display here (yikes! 150% is a little too big) and hope I can get to the end of this article without giving myself a headache.
For some reason, activating Vision Backup went without any trouble. The interface is fairly straightforward for those familiar with backup programs. The main screen has a series of options running down the left side: Create a New Schedule, Run a Backup Now, Restore Backup, Edit Backup Schedules, Manage Templates, View Reports, Preferences, Manage Plug-Ins, Help Files, and License Information. I opted for “Run a Backup Now” to see whether it would, in fact, be able to copy my open Outlook .pst file. (And then realized I didn’t have Outlook started yet—all this rebooting is getting me confused.)
I got a warning message about not being able to access my Z drive (that’s the private partition for this computer on the Maxtor Shared Storage II), which seemed a bit strange since I’d logged into the thing and created a folder to put the backup in. It appeared to be copying something to somewhere, though. I just tried to open the log file and got an error message saying there’s nothing associated with .htm files. (Right. I have three web browsers installed.)
That was the point at which everything seized up and I had to reboot the machine again.
It does seem that something got backed up, however. There’s something called a .pfa file on my Z drive.
But I thought I’d better try again, so I started over—at which point I had to leave the house for an hour. I came home and found the machine frozen solid. This is not what you’d call encouraging.
After the third or fourth time the machine seized up so badly I couldn’t even get a response to CTRL-ALT-DEL, I gave up, uninstalled both programs, and reset the font display. Enough is enough.
Now, I’m sure not everyone gets this response to the FAM software (and I’m pretty sure it’s the FAM, rather than the VisionBackup, that causes the problems). I don’t know what on my computer objected to it so strongly that nothing would work. What I do know is that I obviously can’t use it. And, of course, I can’t recommend a program that I can’t use.
Try it at your own risk.