"Computer Backup 101"
Recently, I received a frantic phone call from one of our clients. One of their office computers was not turning on, and when it did, it gave an error "No boot device found." This is a very serious error - John's hard drive had crashed! All the data on that drive was lost due to a physical failure of the hard drive, and John lost all of his data.
Hard drives fail. They fail for many reasons, and can fail at anytime - normally at the worst possible time - and accidental deletion of files is very common. Human error accounts for an estimated 90 percent of all data loss.
So how do you avoid losing critical data?
The first step is to have a back-up system and use it to back up the right files. Certain files are more critical than others to back up. For example, if your computer hard drive died before you finished reading this article, what files would be irreplaceable? Digital photos, emails, documents, financial records... for some, the list is very long.
The average computer user attempts to back up their entire hard drive. Whether onto floppy disks or CDROM, this process could take several hours, and would fill hundreds of floppy disks or span several CDROM.
We recommend not backing up the entire hard drive; instead, back up the data that you have created and saved on the hard drive. Before we recommend backup approaches, let's review a few definitions of file and document types:
- Program Files: Microsoft-Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), QuickBooks, or Outlook. These are programs that you purchased and can be easily reinstalled.
- Data Files: Documents you created using Microsoft Word, digital photos you have saved to your computer, your QuickBooks records, and even your email or email address book. These are files containing your personal data.
- Operating System Files: Windows 98, or Windows XP to name a few. These are also programs that you purchased and can be easily reinstalled.
I did a quick scan of my home computer and found that, of the 40GB hard drive I have, 15GB were taken up by Programs Files and the Operating System. I only had 300MB or so of data files I could easily be able to back up my precious data files onto ONE CD-ROM.
So how do you do it?
To make your backup simple and effective, remember to store all you data files in one area or directory. The "My Documents" directory is a good place to start; however, many programs that are not made by Microsoft will create their own directory for important data files. You just need to understand where your data files reside.
By using ONE main directory to store all your data files, you will automatically make the backup process easier. Now all you need to do is copy the entire backup directory onto CD-ROM and you are done.
Another best practice is to create a separate hard drive (or partition) and store all your data files on that drive. This provides two benefits:
- If your primary hard drive dies, you have all your data files on a separate hard drive.
- If you purchase a new computer, all you need to do is move the data file hard drive over to the new computer.
Think about it - how much of your company's knowledge is contained on PCs? What would it cost in time and money to recreate that critical data? How disruptive would it be to your business if you were to suddenly lose critical information - orders, customer contact information, accounting data? Likewise, most of us store personal information and mementos online - digital photos, communications (emails) with loved ones, address books Those treasured memories could be lost forever if you don't have a backup on hand!
So what's your backup process? If you have any questions or would like assistance in establishing a backup process for your data, please give us a call at (949) 635-6954.
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