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The Paper - Escondido San Marcos North County
 The Computer Buzz October 28th, 2010     

Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Factory

The Ultimate Back-up

When your hard drive dies, becomes infected or if Windows OS becomes corrupt, you may need to reinstall your OS, before you can restore data files from your back-up device.

If you have a “package PC” (Dell, HP, Compaq, Gateway etc) you will use a recovery disc. What? You didn’t make a recovery disc the day you bought your PC? That’s just great! Now you must call Timbuktu and beg “Tiffany” for a recovery disc. Eight working days and $35 later it arrives in the mail.

You install it to your new or reformatted hard drive and, to your endless delight, find that all the original pop-ups, trial programs, ads and assorted “junkware” you spent years getting rid of are back again. Next you download your Windows updates (recovery discs are never current), your anti-virus, print driver and applications software. Now you are ready to load the data files from your back-up device. If all goes well you’re back in business, at least until next time.

There is a scenario that not only protects your data but also your set-up and programs. It involves some effort and expense but may save aggravation, time and money in the long run. Here’s how it works.

First you’ll need to sign up for an Internet based service that will back your files up every day. These services run $50 to $60 a year. You may opt for some other method of file storage but Internet storage is most reliable.

Next you’ll need a 500GB hard drive, an external hard drive enclosure and a copy of Acronis Home 2010. At the Computer Factory this threesome costs $115. Avoid integrated back-up hard drive systems like Maxtor One Touch. They are failure prone and inflexible.

The hard drive goes into the external drive enclosure that has an interface cable connecting to your PC via USB, Firewire or E-Sata. The Acronis software allows you to “image” your PC’s hard drive to the external drive creating a perfect clone including drivers, programs, data and set-up.

You “image” your drive when your PC is working perfectly. Then you put the external drive away. From time to time you may want to re-do the “image” as you add programs and up-dates.

When your hard drive dies, becomes infected, or when Windows becomes corrupt, you simply remove the hard drive from your PC and replace it with the hard drive from the external enclosure. Then turn on the PC and update your files. When everything seems to be working well you can put the old (infected) hard drive into the external enclosure (or a new drive, if the old drive is bad) and “image” it from the PC. Now you are again fully backed up.

While this can be a do-it-yourself strategy, it would also dramatically reduce the “shop cost” of recovering a drive failure or virus infection.

An external drive connected to via E-SATA can actually boot and run your PC. That makes for some interesting possibilies.


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