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Back it up Buddy! Your Data, that is.

Your data – information contained on your computer can be more important and more expensive to repair or restore than the actual computer itself, and yet I estimate only 25% of the people coming into the Computer Corner Service department actually have a reliable data back-up plan.

The fact is, if YOU don’t have a back-up plan you could lose all those pictures of the family, all your business documents… everything. Sometimes a local computer shop can recover the data, it depends how far “gone” the data is. The drive can be sent off to a large company to dissect the drive and recover data (also not guaranteed to work), and that may cost you thousands of dollars for a single hard drive.

The biggest factor here though, is that we all don’t seem to understand that you can lose your data from many things other than a hard drive failure.

Here are a few factors that could cause you to lose your data:

  • Viruses – over 75% of the computers coming into the Computer Corner service department have viruses. Depending upon how deep they go, and how long they have been there, your data may be unrecoverable.
  • Hardware or Software Upgrades (like the recent free Windows 10 upgrade offer that affected many people) – turning off your computer during an update or upgrade, or a failed update or upgrade can cause this, along with trying to do a software upgrade on a computer that has existing problems.
  • Hardware failure – your hard drive – Sooner or later your computer hard drive WILL fail. It’s a fact of life. Although they have been known to last for 10 years or more, that’s not the norm. Three to five years is more realistic for the life span of a hard drive. 99% of the installed drives have spinning platters that are similar to an old record player – the platters can be easily damaged.
  • “Pilot” Error – Yep, that means you… You or an associate or family member accidentally deletes the entire data base for your organization or the folder with all the family photos.
  • Catastrophic Event – Fire, theft, etc., but also something as simple as “Fido” and “Fluffy” tearing through the house and snagging the cords of your laptop, sending it crashing to the floor.

When a hard drive failure occurs, the most common issue is that people are not prepared. Here are some sources of back up options:

  • Pen Drives (also called Thumb Drives & Flash Drives) – Inexpensive, easy to use, ultra-portable, and easy to use, BUT Easy to lose, short life span, limited storage capacity, and easy to wash… they are so portable that they wind up places they shouldn’t. Better than nothing though.
  • External Drive – relatively inexpensive, more reliable than Pen Drives, Semi-Portable, larger capacity, available in drive-storage arrays, like what I use personally a DROBO.
  • SAN/NAS – Storage Attached Network & Network Attached Storage – if you have a business, you need something like this. This one is detailed. Please call us for a free evaluation
  • The Cloud – Virtually unlimited space, access from anywhere, very reliable, not subject to catastrophic events (fire can’t burn it, burglars can steal it, Fluffy can’t affect it) BUT, if you have to use it to restore your data, it is slow. If your internet is down, you can’t access it at all. We recommend and sell Carbonite, Cloud Back-Up Premium Plus – It has unlimited storage for 1 computer, AND the back up for your external hard drive attached to your computer, AND a mirror image of your system.

Our top recommendation? The best solution for most people is an external hard drive solution accompanied by a cloud backup solution, one of which should include a mirror image back up, not just data backup.

Special IMPORTANT notes:

WITH ANY BACK UP PLAN YOU CHOOSE, TEST IT FREQUENTLY TO BE SURE IT IS WORKING. The #1 comment from people coming into the Computer Corner service department with a virus or failed drive, “I thought I had a good back up of my data, but…”

A mirror image backs up your entire hard drive, not just DATA, it backs up your applications and operating system. The downfall of “data back up only”, is that if you have a drive or device failure for any of the above reasons, you will have to reload your operating system, and your application software (like Microsoft office (word, excel, etc.)) AND you will have to have the disks or the license key to do so. BUT, a mirror image can typically only be restored EASILY, back to the original device it that the operating system was licensed to.

For full protection, an external back up device or the drive or cassette should stored in a separate location from the computer itself, in case of catastrophic event (recommended a fire-proof, water-proof location). Many external storage devices have removable hard drives, or storage media for this reason.

Back up’s can be set for full or incremental back, or both. A Full back up will take longer, so many people choose incremental data/file backup during the set up, which will only back up the files that have changed since the last backup session.

YES, if you have a virus or spyware, or damaged files… this will also be part of your back up, so make sure you are using the “Tremendous Trio” of products recommended in my previous blog.

If you have fallen prey to “Ransomware”, data backup restoration is the ONLY way to get your computer back without paying the perpetrator a ransom to decode your encrypted drive. A mirror image back up would be extremely beneficial in this situation. Please see my blog on “Ransomware”, too!