Finding duplicate photographs software

Clients often end up with an AWFUL lot of duplicate photographs.

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder does the trick



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Create system images of your Windows PC, the easy way to prevent heart attacks

What are System Images on a Windows PC?

They are a visualized hard drive of your computer that can be used to either recover data or run your dead PC in a visualized environment. These are slight different to backup software that run continuously on your Windows PC like the native “File History” facility.

Think of “File History” back up as day to day. It bails you out of:

  • Accidentally deleting a file or folder
  • Allowing you view a file from several saves back with the same file name

A System Image can be thought much more of a get of jail card for complete failure and disaster recovery if the data is kept off-site and the data since last system image is also held off-site.

With a combination of the two backups and additionally the use of cloud services such as GDrive and DropBox could form a complete disaster recovery process.

How to Create a System Image Backup in Windows 7, 8, or 10

There is a great tutorial for doing this at

And also at this page to do a restore

100% of the details on this page are correct BUT the backup that this procedure does is really a lot more useful than it appears.

While you can’t restore a system image backup on another PC, you can extract individual files from a system image backup. Microsoft says it’s not possible to extract individual files from a system image backup, and they don’t provide an easy tool to do so — but they’re just standard VHD (virtual hard disk) image files that you can “mount” and copy files from using File Explorer or Windows Explorer.

It says that you cannot take restore the “system image backup on another PC”, whilst this is technically correct we can do something really cunning with this .VHD backup.

We can install Microsoft Virtual PC software on another powerful Windows PC and copy the .VHD file to it. He we can now run your old PC inside another PC while your replacement PC gets to you.

So if you run a full the procedure every night to an external drive then read this guide below “Automating the creation of .VHD files on Windows 8 / 10” to automate it on Windows 8 and above, here is the link to the original web page tutorial.

In Windows 7 the scheduling for creating an automated “Create a System Image” was built into the operating system. Then Microsoft removed this method making it very complicated. This will have been due to commercial agreements drawn up with third party backup vendors like Acronis who offer some very good comprehensive paid for solutions.

This youtube clip demonstrates your emergency fall back. It shows a Windows PC running a Windows PC inside it. The Windows PC inside it is a .VHD file

Automating the creation of .VHD files on Windows 8 / 10

How to schedule a Windows 8.1 System Image backup

  1. Decide whether you want to run a daily or weekly backup of Windows 8.1. Also make sure you understand that every new backup will overwrite the previous one. So, if the backup fails, you won’t have a recovery copy to fall back to.
  2. Connect an external drive with enough free space. This will depend on how much data you have in your hard drive(s).
  3. Launch PowerShell as administrator (this is really important because this operation needs the highest administrative privilege as possible).
    Quick Tip: Go to the Start screen do a search for PowerShell, from the result right-click Windows PowerShell, and select Run as administrator.
  4. Type the following command to create a daily full Windows 8.1 backup and press Enter:Syntax:
    SCHTASKS /Create /SC DAILY /TN <TaskName> /RL HIGHEST /ST <Time24HrsFormat> /TR "wbAdmin Start Backup -backupTarget:<TargetDrive>: -include:<WindowsDrive>: -allCritical -quiet"


    SCHTASKS /Create /SC DAILY /TN DailyFullBackup /RL HIGHEST /ST 14:06 /TR "wbAdmin Start Backup -backupTarget:F: -include:C: -allCritical -quiet"

    Or type the following command to create a full backup of Windows 8.1 weekly and press Enter:


    SCHTASKS /Create /SC WEEKLY /D <DayOfWeek> /TN <TaskName> /RL HIGHEST /ST <Time24HrsFormat> /TR "wbAdmin Start Backup -backupTarget:<TargetDrive>: -include:<WindowsDrive>: -allCritical -quiet"


    SCHTASKS /Create /SC WEEKLY /D MON /TN WeeklyFullBackup /RL HIGHEST /ST 13:00 /TR "wbAdmin Start Backup -backupTarget:F: -include:C: -allCritical -quiet"

Finally, if you want to double-check whether or not the task has been fully created. Go to the Start screen, do a search for Task Scheduler, expand the Task Scheduler Library, and on the list from the right, you should be able to see the task. This is also a good place to visit and troubleshoot the task if it isn’t running correctly.

Businesses – low cost disaster recovery

Now businesses can go another step further and introduce a work to home sync on “File History” style backups.

So with nightly System Image backups, GDrive/DropBox, File History work backups sync’d to home this could provide you with a pretty comprehensive disaster recovery process.

But this isn’t just low cost disaster recovery. It is actually disaster recovery.

As well as backup being only as good as when you last tried to do a restore from your backup. The other most singular most important aspect is how quickly you can do it.


Standard commercial cloud backup solution:

  • Fire or theft
  • Order new PCs or borrow PCs required
  • Download data
  • Wait for download – this could be days

DIY work<->home synchronization of last day’s data

  • Fire or theft
  • Order new PCs or borrow PCs required
  • Recover data
  • No waiting

Should you require consultancy, please just book an appointment with me at:

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Terrorist videos on FaceBook & YouTube + WhatsApp encryption

There is lot of discussion in the media right now about about terrorist videos being published on the likes of YouTube and FaceBook, something must be done… Even the Daily Telegraph joined in last Saturday 25th March 2017.

Why nothing will be done about terrorist videos

But NOTHING is going to happen,  because this material is actually being used to track and profile terrorists:

Source Camera Identification Using Footprints from Lens Aberration

Automatic source camera identification using the intrinsic lens radial distortion

Digital Photos Give Away a Camera’s Make and Model

Digital images contain their maker’s mark

Tracking where video was taken by the mains hum on the audio recording. Electrical network frequency analysis – ENF analysis is founded on research originally carried out by Dr Catalin Grigoras.


As long as terrorist videos help the security services, they will be allowed on the web. (Whether there will be any advertising next to them is a different matter.)

WhatsApp encryption is another RED HERRING because of zero-day vulnerabilities

January 2015 David Cameron made this statement:

Thanks to the CIA’s Dark Matter leak this month, we discovered that zero-day software has being deployed on computers and phones for a LONG time. Even Apple once thought to be pretty impregnable has been as open as the proverbial barn door.

So what are Zero Days?

A zero-day vulnerability – commonly just called zero-days by hackers – is an undisclosed computer-software vulnerability that both hackers and the security services can exploit.

Zero-day software allows your devices to be controlled by other people – in most cases now; remotely. And this software implanted on the device is not detectable for many years into the future due to its sophistication.

With regards to computers and phones a zero-day allows the security services to read the messages of the terrorist as they are being typed into an application like WhatsApp before it’s even encrypted. So being able to decrypt the encrypted message is totally unnecessary. It’s red herring.

The British security services were using zero-day exploitation  more  than fifty years ago. During the early Common Market discussions in 1960 – 1963, We created remote monitoring facilities that could listen to the French encryption devices before the messages were encrypted. This was brought to light by Peter Wright’s revelations in Spy Catcher, published in 1987. The Song remains the same.

We live in a world where you can safely assume that any Internet connected device can be remotely monitored by the security services. The recent Wikileaks Dark Matter Leak implies this clearly.

The issue of encrypted communications is a red herring. That problem was solved a very long time ago, The bigger fish is whether the security services can use zero-days without a warrant and with impunity? This is the news item.


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Passwords, to save (in browsers) or not to save….

Dear Mark,

I was talking to a friend, Rick,  about security for  passwords on the laptop.

He told me to go to Firefox. See Options, Security, Saved Logins and there were a whole list of my saved passwords for anyone to see in the computer.

Same with Google going through Settings.

I did not realize saved passwords were stored on the laptop.

I replied:

Don’t save passwords in Chrome, these will get copied into Google’s cloud

If you’re Google account gets hacked, then ALL these passwords are available to the hacker…

Also go to :

Go to saved passwords, delete them all. Then switch off the sync’ing setting, this will prevent further accidental saving of passwords to Google from Chrome usage.

At the end when you enter your screen should look like this, make sure the bottom line “Saved passwords” looks like this:

If you want to save passwords on the PC, then use FireFox and add a Master Password to protect them. Click this link for the official tutorial

  • Three lines icon (top RHS) – [this is the Menu icon in FireFox speak]
  • Preferences
  • Security
  • Use Master Password

In effect you use two browsers, Chrome for your Google intensive work where you get the tight integration and FireFox for your general with password protection for locally stored passwords. If you don’t get a Mozilla account then there is no risk of them ending up in Mozilla’s cloud either. If you use a Master Password on your computer then passwords are held on the machine encrypted unless you enter your master password when you first start using FireFox.

To more fully appreciate the risks, then read what the FireFox Senior Security Engineer has to say which is the first reply

Password management is a game of two halves, pain in the neck or the same pain but slightly further down.

Next in my password article series is here:

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Hate passwords – love deterministic password generators

A deterministic password generator allows you to remember one simplistic pass-phrase that you can remember for all your passwords but

  • Unique passwords are generated for each site and logins you use
  • They gives you the ability to rapidly change all your passwords in one go

Actually I recommend a combination of the two, my favourite is KeePass for a Password Manager with the password management file store on DropBox and SaltThePass which is a deterministic password generator on you mobile. Android or iPhone. KeePass is also available for Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS.

I use KeePass as Password Manager with the password management file store on DropBox + two-factor authentication, this gives me the facility to cope with some complex information I don’t want to write down. This is the same for all Geeks, we ALL use KeePass like the early days the Geeks were the ones that used Google first.

So when do I use SaltThePass? I typically only use it with web sites that provide two factor authentication to login. That means that you need you mobile with you to be able to access the web site, pretty much using the same technology that you use when you log into your bank account with the PIN generator which is different each time.

My next related article in this password series is here:

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Two Factor Authentication

Two-factor simply means that there has to be something else other than a password entered when you log into a web site. Try this explanation by Brit Christopher Bernatt, missing the 1970’s Open University BBC 2 late spots, then he’s our man.

Common UK sites and sites that you might use offering this now are:

  • All the High Street Banks
  • (, email systems)

You can also find a comprehensive global list here at

OK here’s the kicker, if you watched Christopher’s video if you still do not understand how it works. Then you should have been using yesterday.

You will not find a Geek not using it.

Here’s the example, you’ll still meet Doctor’s who enjoy a crafty cigarette or maybe have a class A problem, you know – you see the odd documentary on TV.

But you won’t find any IT or person involved in the Computer Industry that does not have two factor enabled on every account they possibly can.

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Which Anti-Virus software should I use on my Windows computer?

What’s the most intelligent thing to do about virus on your Windows PC? Absolutely nothing as it turns out. I have long since considered the paid for Norton / Symantec / McAfee:

  1. No better that the free ones
  2. Significantly make your PC perform slower
  3. I “suspect/allegedly” an anti competitive sales tactic where the large National retailers conspire with the large anti virus vendors to sell computers at cost and receive an annual kick-back on the subscriptions activated after the “free” 30 days. Sounds corrupt, verging on illegal – I think so.

Welcome to Mark’s school of not getting ripped off by large companies. Photo by¡Carlitos

Continue reading

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If you use the Internet you really need to CHANGE all your passwords

OK folks, call it what you want we’ve had a glorious data breach but accidental this time.

Not on the scale of Yahoo! where the US equivalent of GCHQ forced the company to include a backdoor on their servers to allows the US National Security Agency unfettered access to your BTInternet email and any other Yahoo! provide email. That was over 1 billion email accounts.

But it would be prudent to change as many online passwords as you can this weekend and subsequently. The potential list of compromised web sites runs to a 22.6M zipped text file that this person has compiled here.

My personal recommendation is to use a password manager which you store on your PC in conjunction with DropBox, OneDrive or your Google Drive. I personally recommend KeePass. It’s available for Mac, Windows and Linux. It’s also available on your mobile phone as well but some folks may need help setting that up so it links with your PC copy of the encrypted passwords stored on DropBox, OneDrive or your Google Drive.

If you have the inclination and want to learn more about protection your online accounts have a look at this site Please follow totnesIT on twitter where I’ll be posting more on how to do this.

What KeePass looks like on a computer

Continue reading

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The Amazon way to buy a budget laptop

Normally I recommend 8GB of RAM and as near to an i3 processor in terms of speed with an aim to spend about £300. Early 2017 this is do-able. Just I’ve just spotted a new trick I would be quiet happy to do myself.

Second hand from an Amazon refurbisher. Why? £100 cheaper, some sort of warranty and buyer protection via Amazon.

Go to

Click on “Shop by Department”, this top left hand side just under the logo
Click on that phrase, you’ll not get a list, scroll down until you see “Electronics & Computers”, under this heading you’ll see “Laptops” – click on this link.
Now then next page will basically show you the Amazon list of computers for sale but we just want to narrow it down to all laptops for sale with 8GB RAM Computer Memory. Continue reading

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On twitter as a business? Let your customers reach you!

On twitter for business?

Are customers trying to reach you?

Top twitter advice: under “Security and privacy” enable “Receive Direct Messages from anyone“, makes you much more accessible to customers 🙂

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