Apple Releases Lion Recovery Disk Assistant

It seems that Apple has finally heard the cries of users who were experiencing the worst side of OS X Lion. Many users, including some friends of mine, were having trouble using the web-based recovery tools built into Apple’s latest edition of Mac OS X. They have released Lion Recovery Disk Assistant, which is designed to let a user create a new Lion recovery partition on an external hard drive or USB drive.

The newly created disk will have all the same features as the built-in Lion recovery system. That includes reinstalling Lion, repairing the disk via Disk Utility, resorting from a Time Machine backup, and browsing the web using Safari. Unfortunately, in order to use this utility, you need an existing Recovery partition for Lion.

While it may seem like it, this does not invalidate the Lion disk making app that I covered last week. This tool from Apple will make it possible for you to restore a system already using Lion. Lion DiskMaker allows you to create a standalone Lion installation disk, which could be used to install Lion on a machine that is running Snow Leopard or an earlier version of OS X.

The Apple support document for Lion Recovery Disk Assistant lists a set of four simple steps to creating a recovery disk. Those steps are:

  1. Download the application
  2. Insert an external drive (or USB key)
  3. Launch the application
  4. Select the drive where you want to install
  5. Follow the instructions

The support document for the new utility does make a point to mention how the new disk will be usable. If it is created on a computer that shipped with Lion, it will only be usable on that machine. If it is made on a system upgraded to Lion from Snow Leopard, it can be used on any machine upgraded that way.

Easy Full System Backup and Recovery with Easeus Todo Backup

This Christmas, Santa brought me a new HP Mini 110 netbook. It came with Windows XP pre-installed and it also came with all the normal stuff except for two things. It doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive and it doesn’t have a system recovery CD.

The first thing I wanted to do after getting all of my must haveprograms loaded, was to get the new netbook backed up on my external USB backup drive. I knew that creating the backup on my USB drive was not going to be a problem with almost any software I chose to use. However, how was I going to be able to boot my PC into a recovery mode if Windows or my hard drive failed? After some trial and error, I found that Easeus Todo Backup makes the job pretty easy once you’ve learned a trick or two. Below, I’ll share my new tricks with you, so that you won’t have to sweat for hours figuring it out on your own.

Create Bootable Live Linux USB Drives with UNetbootin

This year for Christmas, I received a new netbook to play with. It came pre-loaded with Windows XP, so I’ve had a little vacation from Windows 7. I’ve also had to live without a CD/DVD drive, and that’s been the real challenge for me.

Once I had my netbook set up the way I wanted it, my first order of business was to create a full system backup. Since my netbook doesn’t have a CD drive, I had to figure out how to boot a recovery system from the flash drive slot, or a USB stick.

The backup software I chose came with a Live CD ISO file that you would normally burn to a CD. Once the CD was booted, you could access your backup files on the network or on an external hard drive, and then you could restore your system. I tried a variety of programs, but I finally found a perfect solution at UNetbootin (free and open source) easily created a bootable SD flash card containing my system recovery software. Below I’ll give you some details about this fantastic utility.

Rohos Mini Drive – Hide Your Data on Flash Drives

I carry a 2Gb SD Card in my wallet almost every day. On the card, I have a complete portable suite of applications, pictures, movies, music and some personal data.

I keep it backed up occasionally, so I’m not worried if I lose it. However, I don’t want my personal data falling into the wrong hands. Up until recently, I’ve been using the free  Safehouse Explorer to encrypt all that data. It’s a fantastic and easy to use encryption utility, but now I’m using an app that works better for me.



Rohos Mini Drive (RMD) is a free encryption utility, especially designed to hide and protect data on a USB flash drive or other flash media, such as my SD card. RMD has a host of features that make it simple to manage hidden data on a flash drive. Here are a few:

  • Creates a virtual encrypted partition (volume)
  • Automatically detects your USB drive and helps create a new volume
  • Portable works on a guest computer without Admin rights
  • Volume is protected by password
  • Encryption is automatic – on-the-fly’
  • Encryption algorithm is AES 256 bit
  • Virtual Keyboard – protects your password from keyloggers
  • Autorun Folder – shortcuts that automatically start when volume is opened great for launching portable menus
  • File Virtualization you can safely open files without them being decrypted to temporary space on the host PC
  • FREE for non-commercial, personal use

Set-up and Use:

Keep Your USB Drive Private with SafeHouse Explorer

safehouse-icon Ever since USB sticks have become popular, there’s been a real demand for methods to keep the files on them private. Many people worry what’ll happen to their data if they lose their little USB sticks.

The first solutions I used was simple file encryption. It works fine as long as the encryption programs could be stored on the USB stick. Other methods I’ve seen even go as far as special hardware built right into the stick. That makes them more expensive but still affordable by business users. If you look hard, you’ll find dozens of ways to keep the data on your USB drive safe from prying eyes.

Recently I’ve been trying out a great program called SafeHouse Explorer. It’s done everything I’ve wanted so far with few problems. Here’s what the home page for SafeHouse says about their software:

“What will happen to you when your private information falls into the wrong hands? It’s all preventable! SafeHouse Explorer is free security software for hard drives and memory sticks. Keep everyone out. Period. Get it now. Or be sorry later.”

Set up is simple. Download a 3mb installer file and agree to the terms of use as you run it. The SafeHouse program will appear in your Windows Add/Remove panel and start menu just like any other application. It can be used on your hard drives or USB drives and other portable media. To take it on the road, find the SafeHouseExplorer.exe file in the Program Files folder and copy it to a USB drive. It will now run as a “stand-alone” or portable program.

It works by creating an encrypted and password protected virtual drive (or volume) inside a single file. Simply click the “New Volume” button in SafeHouse and follow the volume creation wizard as it guides you through the process. It’s pretty simple and basically only needs to know the volume file name, location and the size you need.


The SafeHouse Explore interface looks a lot like a Windows Explorer file browser. It acts like Windows Explorer even down to dragging, dropping and right clicking on files. You’ll have no problem getting used to managing the files in your protected volumes.


SafeHouse Explorer has the following features and more:
* stand-alone on USB or other media such as iPods or floppy disks
* hides, locks and encrypts any file types
* 256-bit Twofish advanced encryption
* unlimited number of storage volumes
* volumes can be up to 2,000 Gigabytes in size
* password strength meter
* create self-extracting EXE encrypted volumns

Techie Buzz Verdict:
This is excellent free protection for your private data. It’s very easy to use and the stand-alone copy works even on PC’s that don’t allow you administrative rights. The only failing I saw is that when it’s run in stand-alone mode, each time you fire it up, it asks you to agree to the Terms of Use.

I feel good about recommending SafeHouse Explorer to anyone who needs to be a little paranoid with their private data.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5

Download SafeHouse Explorer


Do you have any questions about file security or encryption? Do you have any ideas you’d like to share? Be sure to add a comment below or email me. I’d love to hear from you.

Eject USB Disk Faster with USB Disk Ejector

Having a lot of USB drives is a great help to backup files and store your media library and so on. Plugging in a USB drive is fairly easy but ejecting it needs to be done with care so that there is no data loss or damage to the drive.

Windows by default provides you with a utility which will allow you to safely remove the USB hardware from your PC without causing any damage to it. That said the utility provided by Windows has a long way to go with their interface which is very confusing to the end user.

USB Disk Ejector is a software that will allow you to quickly remove USB devices in Windows. The software was originally designed to only remove pen drives but can now remove any type of attached USB devices safely.

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