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The Computer Buzz February 28th, 2008

Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Fact


Back Up Buddy

Your hard drive is going down and taking all your files with it. This is not idle speculation. It's a question of when, not if. Hard drives, like people, eventually die.

Business users know the importance of maintaining up-to-date back-up copies of data files. To prevent loss from fire or theft, businesses typically store their back-up files off-site.

Today's prudent home PC users are taking similar precautions. More each year, home users rely on computers for banking, taxes, correspondence, family pictures, contact information and other personal files.

When your hard drive "takes a dump" there's an even chance that your files can be recovered the "easy way." The bad hard drive is removed from your PC and slaved to a test bench PC. Files are then extracted and copied to a storage device. (Hard drive, jump drive, CD or DVD). The "easy way" will probably cost less than a hundred dollars.

If the bad hard drive is completely dead (won't spin up), The "hard way," (a recovery service) is the only solution. Your hard drive is taken into a "clean room" where it is disassembled and the data disc removed. Your data disc is mounted in a device that reads and records the binary code pattern (ones and zeros.) Then special versions of the programs in which your files were recorded (Quick Books, Word, Excel, Photoshop etc) are used to recompile your files. This is a lengthy and expensive process. Expect to pay between one and two thousand dollars for data recovery services.

Even if your hard drive stays healthy, there are plenty of other ways to lose your files. Viruses, spy ware, mis-installed applications, cosmic rays, power surges and a hundred other events beyond your control can cause your drive to lose its organizational structure. Your files are there but the hard drive forgot how to find them.

When your otherwise healthy drive develops Alzheimer's the files can usually be recovered without resorting to a "recovery service" but not always.

There are several repair alternatives for a "senile" hard drive. They range from simply running Microsoft's "Windows Repair" to the reinstallation of the entire operating system and device drivers. Files can usually be resurrected, but not always. Back-up is the only way to be sure you don't lose your files.

There are plenty of excellent ways to back-up your PC. CDs, DVDs, jump drives and external USB or E-SATA hard drives are all candidates. The external hard drives are large enough to back-up your entire hard drive, operating system, applications and all.

Internet data storage services like are increasingly popular alternatives for both home and business users. Internet data storage services are automatic, inexpensive, complete, timely, secure and off site.

When your hard drive goes down we sincerely hope you have the important stuff backed up because you'll get little sympathy from us. If your files weren't important enough to back up, they aren't important enough to cry over.





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