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The Paper - Escondido San Marcos North County
 The Computer Buzz October 21st, 2010     

Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Factory

More Backing Up

Every one needs to at least consider a file protection strategy to prevent a disaster that day your hard drive fails, and they all do, eventually. Perhaps you don’t need a strategy. If all you care about is your saved e-mails and you’re using Internet e-mail servers like G-mail, Hotmail or Yahoo you have no problem. They store your e-mail and address book in their on-line servers. Similarly banking, stock trading and many other interactive applications store your data on their computers and you don’t have to worry about losing it.

If you’re still using outmoded e-mail handlers like Outlook Express, Windows mail, Windows Live Mail or AOL, Lord have mercy on you. Not only do you need to back it up, you will probably need to hire a technician to help you get your files back if you ever need to recover them. We strongly recommend dumping these relics and getting yourself onto an Internet based e-mail handler: they’re free and very easy to use.

If you have only a few files to ensure against loss, backing up to an optical disc (CD or DVD) may be the answer. Family pictures and documents can be easily saved to an optical disc. Unlike the magnetic storage media like floppies, flash memory or ZIP discs, optical drives don’t rely on magnetic technologies to store data. Data stored on optical drives will not degrade over time.

Optical drive storage may not be ideal for situations where files need to be backed up frequently (daily or hourly). In cases like these users often employ a redundant or RAID drive set-up. The RAID set-up provides two drives that the computer sees as a single drive. The drives are always identical and if one fails, the computer will continue to function normally. While RAID does protect the user from data loss due to hard drive failure, it does not protect against loss caused by mal-ware infection, theft or fire.

Backing up to an external hard drive is another fairly good way to do daily back-ups of data. The external drive can be detached and stored in a safe place to guard against theft. The biggest problem is that you must remember to back up on a regular basis. On-line back up programs are a safe, inexpensive and convenient way to ensure your files. Most of these services charge fifty to seventy dollars a year. They back up your files automatically so the only thing you need to do is to remember to pay the bill each year.

All of the storage methods we have discussed thus far (except RAID) back up your data files only. When your hard drive fails or when your Windows operating system becomes corrupt, a more frequent occurrence than a hard drive failure, you must install and update your operating system, device drivers and applications programs. Only then can you restore your “saved” data files. Is there a way to back up your files, programs and operating system so that a virus or hard drive failure is no more than a minor inconvenience? Yes there is and we’ll discuss it next week.

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