Tech Talk: Know how to backup computer data |

Tech Talk: Know how to backup computer data

Some information we offer our neighbors through this column deserves repeating. Several months ago we wrote about the importance of having some type of backup system in place so that if anything happens to your main hard drive, you would have a current data backup upon which you could rely. Last month we had a rash of failed hard drives brought in by local small business customers who either had only a partial or no backup of their important financial or customer information.

Because of the failed drives, we had to send them off to a data recovery specialist. Not all failed drives can be recovered, and the average cost of recovery is $1,000. Undoubtedly, all of those who experience failed drives end up adopting our recommendations for a backup system. With a small investment they are now prepared to recover and be running again quickly if their hardware fails again.

If you are a home user and do not generate a large amount of data, you may be able to use your CD/RW (read-write) or DVD/RW player to back up your “My Documents” folder. They are handy to use but can get scratched or broken if you’re not careful. Take care to test that the CD you created is readable.

Recordable CDs are fine for word documents, music, and small accounting software files. While you can use them for pictures, we would suggest you use a recordable DVD as higher-quality pictures take up much more available space. Think of DVDs as your digital photo album.

Flash drives (portable storage device) are great for minor backups of a few files or folders. They are perfect for accounting file backups, transferring files between systems, and more. Even though flash drives hold a significant amount of data, most don’t hold enough data for a full backup.

An external hard drive is a backup scheme we have come to rely on in most cases. This is simply a separate, self-contained hard drive that you connect to your computer. External hard drives have a large capacity and are fast and flexible. This portability allows you to take your backup safely offsite, which is a good idea for businesses. You can purchase a drive with enough capacity to copy your entire hard drive several times over. You can also set up specialized programs to copy files automatically, which makes this type of backup scheme easy to maintain. For small- and medium-sized businesses and individual users who generate large amounts of data, this is the way to go.

There are other types of backup media like tape drives for servers and RAID drives. Your best bet is to confer with a knowledgeable computer service technician who can help you come up with the right backup plan for your particular situation. By spending a little time and money up front, you can avoid the frustration, tears, and a high recovery charge later.

While we are not saying there is anything wrong with the new Internet Explorer 7.0, we here at Sierra Tech Center have run into issues, especially with e-mail after we installed the updated browser. We suggest you click “Don’t Install” when prompted. There must be a reason Microsoft is giving you this option. But don’t worry, you’ll have an opportunity to install it later when it is more stable.

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