PROTECTING YOUR DATA
IT'S NOT ALL THAT HARD!
There's nothing more distressing for all of us than to have our computer technician call and tell us that we lost all our pictures, videos, music, and other data because of some computer failure. It gets worse when we find out that we could have easily prevented this loss!
Here's how simple it is to prevent this from happening! Once again, we employ our "5 Steps or 5 Minutes" rule:
UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS: No amount of advice is going to help if you do not take the time to understand how backing up your files works. And then committing to actually doing it! Backing up involves:
1. PURCHASE / SELECT A BACKUP DEVICE: You can backup to:
A. EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE: These come in two types:
- Large: About the size of a typical desktop computer's built-in DVD drive. Comes with a "power cube" type AC adapter. Connects to your computer with a USB cable. Available in huge storage capacities for very low prices.
- SMALL: Slightly larger than a laptop internal hard drive. Does not require an external AC power adapter (power is supplied by the USB port itself). Connect to your computer with a USB cable. Available in huge storage capacities at slightly higher prices per gigabyte than external drives. Very portable solution.
B. DVD RECORDABLE DISKS: Very inexpensive (25 - 50 cents each purchased in bulk). Hold 4.7GB of data. Slow to back up to compared to hard drives and subject to possible write failures (rare). Stay away from dual layer DVD disks and Blue Ray type disks. Not main stream enough if you need to quickly restore your data and find you do not have a dual layer or Blue Ray drive equipped computer available.
C. FLASH DRIVES: Sometimes called thumb drives, pen drives, etc. Relatively inexpensive and inexpensive. Cost per gigabyte limits use of these small backups. Okay to use for temporary data storage DO NOT RELY ON THESE DRIVES FOR YOUR PRIMARY BACKUP DEVICE!! These drives can and do fail without warning! This is also true for those memory cards in your digital camera - they are of the same technology.
D. REMOTE / OFF SITE BACK UP LOCATIONS: There are many "for fee" companies offering offsite storage. Usually have per month or per year pricing plans that can add up to a significant amount of money. Offer a fast recovery of your data if needed. There are a number of web sites that offer free storage as well - usually 2GB or less space. Consider these if the size limitation works for you.
2. INSTALL BACK UP SOFTWARE: Depends on the device you have selected:
A. HARD DRIVES: Many of these external hard drives come with backup software included. Use it! Usually fairly easy to install and use.
B. DVD RECORDABLE DISKS: Your DVD drive probably came with "burning" software which may or may not include a back up function. Check to see if it does. You may have to purchase some add on software if it didn't.
C. FLASH DRIVES: Rarely come with backup software so you may have to purchase some add on software if it didn't.
D. REMOTE / OFF SITE BACK UP LOCATIONS: These sites have all the software and configurations you will need - nothing else to buy!
3. SELECT A BACK UP ROUTINE: You can automate the back up process or run it manually:
A. AUTOMATED: Backups run un-attended which just means you don't have to be around to babysit the process! You can select the frequency of your back ups, i.e.: once a day, once a week, every other day, etc.
B. MANUAL: You do your back ups whenever you decide it's time. Requires you to sit through the process but is also a good time to review what you are backing up and to get rid of that junk you have been meaning to delete.
4. VERIFY YOUR BACK UPS! It's important to be sure that you are actually getting usable back ups. We once had a client who was backing up to Zip Disks (remember those?) but she never actually checked any of those disks. It turned out that she was really backing up to the computer's internal hard drive and not to the Zip Disks. When the hard drive failed (they all eventually fail by the way), we replaced the drive, grabbed her most recent Zip Disk back up, and found the disk empty. All the disks were empty for almost a year. VERIFY YOUR BACK UPS!
∑ BACK UP DEVICES: We like external hard drives for our primary devices and DVD's for second level redundancy. Itís important to have at least two valid backups in case one of them fails for whatever reason.
∑ BACK UP SOFTWARE: We like "WinBackup 1.86" for our software. It's offered free, is fast, and easy to use. A quick Google search should bring you to several web sites where you can download it for free. Or email us and we'll send it to you.
∑ BACKUP ROUTINES: You will want to do your backups frequently. And keep multiple versions of your back ups. We like the automated routine but still do our backups manually, especially when we have created a lot of files and the next scheduled event is some days off.
∑ VERIFYING YOUR BACK UPS: You can do this by running a small manual back up at times and then using the restore function to see if the backup is valid. Some software also includes a verification function during the back up process.
CONCLUSION: Get a device, select your software, back up frequently, utilize several back up locations / methods, and verify your back ups!
Feel free to email us if you have questions or need some more information!
Copyright Computer Solution
Center, Inc. 2005