Don't Lose Data in a DisasterJennifer Martinez
Fires, power outages, and floods. We read about them in the morning paper and see them on the evening news. We sympathize with the victims and commiserate over their bad luck and the digital consequences -- melted computers, system failures, destroyed data.
You might think: "It wouldn’t happen to me." But the truth is at some point you'll probably have to deal with at least one computer disaster. Even the smallest disaster can be a serious disruption -- home computers contain some of our most important business and personal information and have become an integral part of the smooth-running household. When home computers go down, small businesses grind to a halt, or homework can't get done.
Fortunately, taking steps to recover from disasters and minimize their effects is quite straightforward. With a good offsite storage plan and the right tools, you can bounce back quickly and easily from minor computer disasters. And, should a major calamity strike, you can rest assured your data is safe.
Tip No. 1: Use offsite storage House fires and floods are among the most devastating causes of personal computer destruction. That's why a solid offsite backup and recovery plan is essential. Although many home users faithfully back up their hard drives, many would still lose all their data should their house flood or burn. That's because they keep their backups in relatively close proximity to their computers. Even if backup disks aren't in the same room as your computer and are tucked away in a closet or even the garage, that's not far enough away should a serious disaster strike. So, it's important to back up your system to a removable medium and to store it elsewhere.
Offsite storage must be dependable and intuitive, making it easy to schedule regular backups and to retrieve files in a pinch. They must also be compatible with your choice of backup medium. You can back up to a variety of durable disk types -- from CDs to Zip drives or a portable hard drive. Although many of these storage media have high capacity, a backup tool with so-called compression capabilities is a big plus because it will eliminate the inconvenience of having to use multiple disks or large uploads. If you choose to save your data to disks or portable drives, be sure to store them at a site that is secure, easily accessible and a good distance away from your home.
Alternatively, you can transfer your files to remote network servers that you can connect to via the Internet (such as Apple iDisk or Xdrive). Uploading files to a remote location is convenient and then you can access your data from almost any online computer. Of course, before using one of these services, make certain you completely trust the service provider and its security methods.
Tip No. 2: Backup regularly Not all home computer damage results from physical disaster. Many less-menacing problems can also hobble your PC or destroy your information. Systems crash, kids "rearrange" data, adults inadvertently delete files. Although these events might not seem calamitous, they can have serious implications.
As with physical disasters, regular and automatic backups are essential. Make sure to back up items such as your email address book, web bookmarks and any software you've purchased online (as you won't have the disks to re-install those applications should they be lost or corrupted). Meanwhile, if just your settings (like your Internet connection preferences) are affected, you'll want a simple way to roll back to your preferred setup. Should your operating system fail, you'll need a way to boot your computer and use the recovery discs that came with your computer to get up and running again.
Tip No. 3: Pick quality tools When disaster strikes, the quality of your backup tools can make the difference between utter frustration and peace of mind. Make sure your tools can help you recover from random system crashes, failed installations and inadvertent deletions. You'll also need to be able to retrieve overwritten files or to bring your system back to its pre-crash state
Life's disasters, large and small, often catch us by surprise. However, with a little planning and the right tools, you can reduce those disasters to bumps in the road -- and then rest easy.
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