The Importance of a Good Data Backup Plan

Our Service Manager recently did an on-site service call to a small, local business. The business had been vandalized and their only computer was stolen…. Along with the backup drive located next to the computer and the USB flash drive (also next to the computer), that contained a secondary back up.

The business owner was also backing up to the cloud, but all info about where the backup was and how to get it back, well… you guessed it. It was on the stolen computer.

All the business and tax records, all the customer data and sales information – it was all gone in an instant. There was nothing that we could do to help the owner recover her company’s data.

Unfortunately, the owner went out of business about two weeks after the vandalism, after realizing that recovering from all the loss was nearly impossible.

We’ve talked about backing up your data before. And we’ve talked about keeping a local back up (external USB hard drive, etc.), as well as backing up to the cloud. The owner was doing all this, but it wasn’t enough.

Another thing to consider is that “data backup” does just that, it backs up your data only. That does not mean your application software (such as Word, Excel, Quicken, etc.) are backed up or your Operating System (OS). If you are only backing up your “data”, and a disaster strikes it will be necessary to reload the OS and your application software.

To protect yourself against data loss:
  • Utilize a local USB drive of some sort (hard drive or flash drive)
  • Store the backup device in another location – at least another room, hopefully in a water-proof/fire-proof safe, and preferably to an offsite location
  • Test your backup to be sure you can actually restore in case of a disaster
  • Keep your procedure for backing up locally and from the cloud, in another location
Types of backup devices and services:
  • USB flash drive – inexpensive, good for small amounts of data, but can be lost or damaged easily
  • External Hard Drive – also inexpensive these days, even up to 4TB of data storage.
  • External Hard Drive with removable drives – good choices if you want to leave the backup device next to the computer and remove the data drive to another location
  • Cloud-based services like Carbonite. You can opt for data only back up or a full image of your computer, which would include your programs, operating systems and data.

What’s the Buzz? Mining Rigs!

A mining rig is a computer system used for mining crypto currency such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. The rig might be a dedicated miner, built and operated exclusively for mining or it could be a computer that is utilized for other purposes, too.

My personal computer is used all day long for work, and at night it works for me earning Ethereum – it’s a part-time mining rig. We also have mining rigs at Computer Corner that are dedicated to mining 24×7.

Essentially when you own a mining rig, you are participating in a process in which you allow internet transactions to be conducted through your computer. There is no middleman, such as a bank or a credit card company. Your computer is essentially that middleman and you earn the associated transaction fee in crypto currency.

Mining rigs are all the rage right now because in January of 2017 Bitcoin was $970. As of Friday January 12th 2018 Bitcoin was at $13,461.54. I could kick myself for not acquiring bitcoin in January of 2017, since that $900 investment would now be worth $13k. Ethereum in January of 2017 was $9 per unit and now it’s at $1,332.50.

Earning Bitcoin or Ethereum today is like investing in a good stock. Like the stock market though, there is always risk. You also need to be sure to build one with the right components and tweaks, to insure the least amount of power usage (yes they use a LOT of power and create a lot of heat as well).

What makes a good mining rig?

  • The Graphics Processing Unit – or GPU – the graphics card with 11Gb or so dedicated memory per card. (Yes, 11Gb – that’s not a typo). A serious mining rig might have 6 or 8 of these at about $1,000 each. (Not to be confused with the CPU, which is the Central Processing Unit or Processor Chip).
  • The Power Supply – 1500 Watts or more. These could run around $500 or more.
  • Extra Cooling Fans
  • And a full-time rig is typically housed in a horizontal chassis or frame that would contain 6 or 8 GPU’s.

The steep investment in the hardware is not for everyone and it takes a skilled, technically inclined individual to build one. That’s my husband Joe, and building mining rigs for people is now a passion of his! It also takes a while to recoup your investment and there are no guarantees about the future (are there ever)?

There are Crypto currency user groups and mining user groups right here in Albuquerque, too. There are even mining “farms” springing up in various locations – buildings that house numerous mining rigs.

Resolutions for Happy Computing in 2019

We all make ‘em. (Or at least the most optimistic of us do). Resolutions for the New Year. Let’s face, it they’re hard to keep. Here’s some that are not so hard to keep and that will make your computing lives a bit better.

1. Always back up the data on your hard drive and learn how to restore it, in case of an emergency. Please read my “Back it up, Buddy” blog for more detail.

2. Change your passwords in any banking or financial site at least once a month and never keep them written down next to your computer, or worse yet, stored on your computer. Please listen to the Computer Corner Radio show Pod Cast from October 23rd about safe passwords.

3. Keep your anti-virus, spyware and malware software up-to-date and set it to perform updates automatically. Please read my blog on the Tremendous Trio of software products (Kaspersky, Hit-Man Pro and Malwarebytes) that I we recommend. These are great products to have, but unlike your anti-virus, you will need to initiate and run Hit-Man Pro and Malwarebytes or set them to run periodically. Use them frequently to scan your hard drive(s). I scan daily.

4. No matter how enticing the supposed “news article” about what stars looked like “then and now” is, or how this one little trick will fix all your wrinkles, don’t click on the links. This is where a great deal of your malware will come from.

5. Don’t click on any links or “pop-ups” from the supposed “Windows Corporation” (or Microsoft or ANY company) that tells you your computer has been infected. Even the links from trusted news sites may be full of tracking cookies and malware. We no longer support the belief of President Ronald Reagan that you should, “Trust, but verify”. We prefer this quote from Fox Mulder of the X-Files, “Trust No One”. FYI, there is no computer company called the Windows Corporation…. Unless they are selling the double-paned type.

6. Be sure your computer, monitor and printer are plugged in to a GOOD surge protector. The kind that costs $9 is probably not going to do the trick. Over time damage can occur from fluctuating power, as well as from full power outages and lightning strikes. Don’t take the risk. APC and Tripp Lite are good brands to purchase.

Happy Computing!

BFFs in the Computer World: Alexa and Cortana

My BFF in grade school (Acoma Elementary, here in Albuquerque, by the way) was Mary Chavez.

Don’t bail on me here! I’m using an analogy….

Mary and I went all the way through high school together, and even unexpectedly got our first “professional” jobs in the same manufacturing company one day apart from each other. We were likely choices of best friends; we never competed against each other and always got along even though we had very separate strengths and career paths.

Ok, once again, you’re wondering why I’m talking about something that appears totally unrelated to computers. I do have a method to my madness, as they say.

Cortana and Alexa are the latest BFFs in the computer world. Much to Siri’s dismay, I am sure.

These “entities” are the intelligent personal assistants given voices, access to HUGE search engine data bases and special features by Microsoft (Cortana) and Amazon (Alexa). They will soon be teaming up to utilize their resources. Siri, is the name given to Apple’s personal assistant and she is, so far, left out in the cold as far as this collaboration goes…. At least at this time.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos proposed integrating Alexa and Cortana in May, to Microsoft chief Satya Nadella and the idea was accepted.

Cortana, being the digital assistant for Windows phones, Windows 8 and Windows 10 platforms, interfaces completely with your Windows-based computer, files, Outlook Calendar and more.

Right now, Amazon’s Alexa doesn’t have access to, or rather doesn’t understand the different ways to interface to Windows based devices. However, you may be familiar with invoking the assistance of Alexa (Named after the ancient library of Alexandria, BTW), on your smart phone and SMART devices such as your Echo speakers, by speaking her name to dim your lights or play your favorite music and get other information on your SMART phone.

In the beginning of this collaboration you’ll need to ask them for each other’s assistance, by saying something like, “Cortana, open Alexa” from your Windows 10 computer or vice versa.

I am eager to see the collaboration of Cortana, and Alexa. This might not seem like a big deal, but Alexa is being utilized in 90% of the SMART devices now. Cortana, being Microsoft’s product, is adept at interfacing to anything associated with your windows-based computer. Together they become even more beneficial to all of us!

The future holds something like this: You’re standing in your living room where your Echo speakers are located. You are about to begin your day and you say, “Alexa, start coffee, play ‘La Macarena’ and find my keys”, your coffee is brewing, your keys are located instantly and you feel good vibes as you listen to your favorite song. OK, that’s not MY favorite song, but somewhere out there, it is someone’s…. Then you say, “Alexa, ask Cortana what’s on my Outlook Calendar today”. And your day’s events, along with the locations are verbalized to you. Then you ask, “Alexa, ask Cortana to print my word document called, “Proposal for Computer Corner”. All this is accomplished with voice commands and no hands-on interface to your computer or phone.

Of course it goes well beyond these capabilities, and I can’t wait!

Computer Scams Abound

True Story from just last week…. A friend of mine was visiting his parents and when he arrived he heard his father on the phone, and caught wind of the conversation he was having. He had just given out his credit card number to the person on the other end of the line, which in itself is not alarming, however…. In conjunction with that, my friend’s father was in front of his computer screen watching someone else control his computer.

My friend immediately rushed over and took control of the call, but it was too late. The caller had put an encrypted password on his father’s computer. If that wasn’t enough, this was a Windows 10 computer, which also makes it pretty much impossible to initiate a password reset.

The caller had taken the computer hostage and now also had complete control of the computer and all its contents, as well.

You might wonder how this could happen, when we all know about the multiple computer scams going on these days. The callers, the perpetrators, are getting cleverer all the time.

This time, someone called their house and said they were with the cable company and that they noticed that their internet was running slowly.

The caller said that he was calling as a courtesy because of the slow internet connection and that they needed to perform some routine maintenance. He asked to take control of their computer to test the cable modem and router. Permission was granted and the caller then saw what he called, “other problems on the computer that required Microsoft support.” “Please hold for a Microsoft representative to be connected”, he said. From there they took control of the computer completely, installed the encrypted password, and told them that the only way to get their computer back was to pay $169. Which my friend’s father was paying. The next call was to the credit card company to freeze the card. He’s lucky it was only $169, but I guess if the perpetrator makes the ransom too high, no one would pay it.

Again, how can this happen? For starters, most people trust someone calling their home, especially when they appear to be calling from a company that you’re familiar with. In New Mexico, well at least in Albuquerque and surrounding areas, there are essentially only two cable companies, Comcast and CenturyLink, so a scammer calling and representing themselves as being from one of these two, has a 50/50 chance of mentioning the right provider.

First rule: Don’t ever give you credit card number out to someone calling YOU, unless you know them. If you initiate the call because you’ve been watching the home shopping network and can’t resist the latest batman water goblet collection, that’s different.

But if you are promoted by a message on your COMPUTER, to call a number, even though in this case you have initiated the call, do not give out your credit card number. Some of these messages look pretty legitimate. They imitate the Microsoft logo and look like an internally generated system message. Don’t fall for it! (That is the Second Rule).

Not only that, but if you have caller ID, and you see a local area code, you can’t believe that’s true either! (This is the Third Rule). These callers can show up as being from anywhere they want to, even if they aren’t calling from this county, by utilizing services such as “Google Voice”. You may see phone number that shows up with a 505 area code on your caller ID but they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

This gentlemen, my friend’s father, is a retired Engineer and was not happy that he fell for this scam, in part because he’s an intelligent man. But, we are sometimes just too trusting.

Now, at Computer Corner we can also get into your computer to perform remote services, but you know who we are.

And even so…. No one at Computer Corner would call you out of the blue and tell you that we need access to your computer. We only do this if you have contacted us to help you, so no matter who your computer service provider is, they will probably not be calling you, unless you have contacted them first.

Cookies, Ads & Pop-Ups, Oh My!

You’re in the middle of researching a topic, let’s say you need to buy a new car…. In Albuquerque, it could be because yours was just stolen, like my husband’s was two months ago, but I digress.

You’ve researched the car you want, Googling away on your computer, but now car, truck and van ads are following you everywhere you go, long after you’ve stopped your searching.

How does that work, why does that happen and what can you do about it.

When you visit a website that company attaches a “cookie”, which most people are familiar with now, but just in case you are not, a cookie is a snippet of code that identifies you and follows you around the internet based on your searches. Advertisers pay to have their ads follow the cookies that match their product offering and their ad appears in your future searches or you start getting pop-ups related to the topic. They call this re-targeting. But there’s more…. With all the information out there in cyberspace and elsewhere, advertisers are combining your on-line search information with offline information. This is referred to as “dynamic creative ads”. Yikes!

Why don’t these pop-ups and ads go away when you leave the site or close your web browser? Because computers use “Caching” technology. Caching technology is a feature of modern web browsers that stores parts of a website that repeat the most often, that way you do not have to load the webpage from scratch every time you visit. This is very useful for decreasing the time for the webpage to load, as many webpages have core pieces that are always the same. This is very similar to CPU caching, where your central processing unit (CPU,) will store data you access frequently for faster recall. For all the benefits we receive from caching, however, there is a downside. Often, websites can use the caching feature, combined with “cookies” to make sure that they are able to track your data when accessing that website. This can be concerning for people who do not want their data tracked, and the cache can lead to issues with the website loading (because sometimes the cached data is out of data or corrupted.)

Have no fear, there are easy fixes for this. Depending upon what web browser you use you can opt to search on line anonymously.

Google Chrome – Incognito Mode is the name of the browser setting that prevents long term caching and cookie tracking. You can activate this by clicking the three dots in the upper left hand corner of the browser and opening a “New Incognito Window”. Any browsing done in this window will only load cookies and cache for the duration of browsing. When it is closed, the browser clears all that temporary data. It is worth it to note that your history will not be saved as well, so if you try to go back and find a site you visited later, it will not be in your browser history.

Mozilla Firefox – Like Google Chrome, you can click the three lines in the top right corner and open a “Private Window” which will enable private browsing.

Internet Explorer – For Internet Explorer, there is an additional step. Click the gear in the upper right corner of the browser, then hover your mouse pointer over “Safety”. One of the options listed will be “InPrivate Browsing”. Click that and it will open a private window.

Microsoft Edge – Click the three dots in the upper right corner and simply click “InPrivate Window”.

Additionally, you can clear your past search history, cache and cookies. Again, this is a little different for each web browser, but they all have this feature.

Google Chrome – Click the three dots in the top right, and hover over “History”. Click the “History/View History” that pops out. On the right side of the page, there will be a clear browsing history option. Click it, and a window will open asking how far back and to what extent you would like to clear the history, cache, and cookies.

Mozilla Firefox – Click the Firefox icon in the top left corner. There should be a history tab. Click that and the history page should pop up. From there, you can clear the history just like Chrome.

Internet Explorer – Click the Gear icon in the top right corner, then click “Internet Options”. In the window that opens, a little more than halfway down the page will be an option to delete your history.

Microsoft Edge – Click the three dots in the top right corner, and select “Settings”. You will see an option to clear browsing data. Click that and choose how much and how far back you want to clear.

Wishing you safe and Happy Googling, Searching & Browsing!

Monsoons in New Mexico

We need the rain here in New Mexico, and like many parts of the world, we have a near drought (and sometimes an actual drought), just before we get hit with more rain than we can handle. That’s not the only thing that comes with the rain. There are power outages, power surges and lightning strikes.

I’ve got some tips for you during this important season. The Monsoon (season) that is. Sigh… I know that saying Monsoon season is redundant since the word Monsoon means “rainy season”, but it just sounds wrong without saying “season”, too.

Why is this season important to computer users everywhere (not just in New Mexico)? Because storms mean power outages, black outs, brown outs, lightning strikes and power surges. In New Mexico that also means it’s HOT and computers are like people; they like temperatures between 50° and 82° Fahrenheit to function at their best.

What do you need to protect your laptops and desktops from surges, lightning and power outage damage? A GOOD surge protector. Not just a “power strip”, but a Surge protector. Don’t take the cheap route when it comes to surge protection. A good one will cost at least $19-$35 (not $5-$8). I got a free “surge protector”, with my last appliance purchase at a local retailer. It had two outlets was about the size of a Saltine Cracker. I gave it to Good Will….. Then I felt guilty about even giving it to them.

My favorite brands are APC, Tripp-Lite and Belkin – all well-known brands in the computer and electronic industry for surge protection. They typically carry a warranty, not only for the product itself, but a warranty for the equipment that they are protecting. Caveat emptor: choose your surge protector wisely because it needs to be rated to protect all the equipment plugged in to it, or your warranty could be voided.

Surge protection is rated by the number of Joules (a unit of energy) and clamping voltage. I recommend buying a model that’s rated at a minimum of 1,000 Joules. The higher the better. I also recommend a model with a clamping voltage of 400 volts or fewer because that’s an indicator of how fast your surge protection will clamp down. The longer it takes, the more likely that your equipment will become damaged from a surge or strike.

Surge protectors don’t last forever, in fact, if they take a power hit or if lightning strikes the power line near your home or business, it will probably “zap” (technical term), the surge protector…. And if it happens twice in a row, like it did to a friend of mine, you will lose the surge protector (and its protection), then lose the components inside your computer – it usually starts with the power supply, then the processor, but can literally “zap” almost every component in your computer.

Additionally, miss-wired outlets can cause any surge protector to fail. Some of our older homes in New Mexico are not wired “to code” or at least to the current code. You can also buy an outlet tester, if you suspect your power outlets are not up to par.


  • Buy a GOOD surge protector rated to protect all the equipment plugged in to it.
  • Laptops need surge protection too! Get a surge protector designed for laptops.
  • If you get hit with a big power outage from a lightning strike, you probably need a new surge protector.
  • Keep your computer or laptop out of direct sunlight for extended periods of time and do not leave your laptop in a hot car. As so many entries in my high school year book said, “Keep it cool, man”! (Manzano, by the way, and I’m not telling the year).
  • As always recommended, back up your data, in case of any disaster.

Green Eggs & Ham & Windows 10

As a fan of Dr Seuss, I can’t help but notice that people’s general reaction to Windows 10 is much like that of the character Daniel, in the famed book, “Green Eggs and Ham”.

I do not like that Windows 10. I do not like it Sam, I am!
I would not like it here or there, I would not like it anywhere
Not at the Gym, not on an whim
Not in my den, not windows 10
Not in my car, not in a bar
Not on a plane, I’m not insane!
I would not, COULD not like windows 10
I would not, could not … You get my drift…..

But in the story by Dr Seuss, Daniel, TRIES green eggs and ham and it’s a different story…. Literally.

Humm, I DO like green eggs and ham ….. (And Windows 10?)
I DO like it Sam I am
I COULD use it at the Gym
I COULD use it in my Den
I COULD use it my car
I do so like that Windows 10, I do so like it Sam, I am!

You might argue, then, that Windows 10 is “an acquired taste” (sorry for the puns).

Windows 10 is different, and naturally, we tend to steer clear of change. But Windows 10 has been out for over a year now, and although many, many (many….) people had trouble with the free upgrade loading on their older computer without crashing it, once you get past the fact that you have to learn something new, it’s not half bad.

The voice-activated Personal Assistant, Cortana, will search the web or your computer for files and photos, give you weather and traffic updates, and more. You can even call her from across the room and get her assistance without logging in. Although a microphone is required, of course.

The Edge web browser has put the “nail-in-the coffin” of Internet Explorer (Rest in Peace IE). The Edge browser has a reading mode, enabling you to shut off all the advertising (much to my ad-guy’s dismay), and has integrated Adobe Flash and PDF Support. My favorite part? The page mark-up and sharing features. “Read Mode” and “Web Note” are the official names of these features.

I personally like that you can hold the “Windows Key” and use your left or right arrow to move the current window over, to that half of the screen, giving you the option to select which other window you’d like to fill the rest of the screen.

The more tech-savvy folks might want me to talk about the techie features, but not today! Not in the Gym, not on a whim… But just a “taste” of techie stuff: Windows 10 has great driver support. It makes OS (Operating System) reloads much faster. The UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) and server verification also makes it easier to activate Windows. There.

Lastly, Windows 10 incorporates the good parts of 8.1 with some of the more popular features from Windows 7 (i.e. start menu.), with a modernized desktop feel.

Windows 7 will continue to be supported by Microsoft until January of 2020, so there’s no rush for you to get Widows 10 or upgrade your computer now. Eventually, though, we’ll all be using Windows 10, so if you’re buying a new computer, you might want to take the plunge.

Am I using Windows 10? Yes, sometimes, because computers are my business BUT, for running my business and for personal use, Windows 7 is still my choice, for now. But, hum… if I had a touch-screen device I just might acquire a taste for Windows 10.

Beyond Dynamic Duos, Here’s a Tremendous Trio!

We all have favorite trios, “the Kingston Trio”, “the Three Witches from Macbeth”, Three Little Pigs, Three Bears, Three Musketeers and my personal favorite, “the BLT”, not to mention, the symbol of our Country, flying high, the “Red, White and Blue”.

At Computer Corner we have a favorite trio or threesome of software products that will help keep your computer safe… or at least safer, really nothing can keep you 100% safe, but…safer, when you are on the internet. And who ISN’T on the internet these days?

Three products – to start, the Dynamic DuoKaspersky Antivirus with HitmanPro (the killer behind the scenes) and the third is all-to-little known, and underestimated apprentice, Malwarebytes.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus for your desktop, HitmanPro, the malware hunter that will seek out those villains and kill them dead in their tracks and Malwarebytes, which nabs the pesky and sometimes malicious malware that lurks around even after your anti-virus program has done its job.

So, why do you need all three? Because they do different things, don’t interfere with each other and as a trio, they help protect your computer and therefore, you.

If you’ve listened to the Computer Corner radio show on 770KKOB AM/94.5 FM or if you’ve been into Computer Corner, you know that we recommend Kaspersky Anti-Virus software.

That’s because we feel that it provides the best virus protection for you and your computer, without bogging down all your computer’s resources.

All of us, even those of us in the computer business, WE ALL, as computers users, allow a virus to come into our computer because WE invite it in by opening an attachment in an e-mail or, in my case, downloading a recipe, or who knows sometimes, but it happens. Notice that the emphasis is on the word, “WE”. WE get careless, we get lazy, we get in too much of a hurry and click, click, click…. Tick, tick, tick… Bang, we’re infected.

Sometimes a virus or malware gets past your anti-virus – no matter how good your protection is – so what then? Well, that’s where these other two products come in.

At Computer Corner we do sell Kaspersky and recommend it 100%, but we don’t sell these other two products, although we do believe in them, none the less.

1) Kaspersky – Anti-Virus protection – I don’t think you really need me to describe this one.

2) HitmanPro – markets itself as the 2nd opinion Malware scanner designed to discover viruses, Trojans, and other malicious activity that (once again) you have perhaps let in yourself and that has rooted itself inside your computer.

And finally, in our trio of recommended software to protect from threats on the internet:

3) Malwarebytes – Anti-Malware software can detect malware that ALL, (not just Kaspersky) ALL antivirus software doesn’t detect or let’s in because you invited it – and it disables and removes the malware. It also blocks adware, popups, ransomware, browser redirects and more. It can block sites that have been infected with Malware, too, and let me say that the website itself doesn’t have to be malicious to be infected! Just an FYI, malicious intruders infect perfectly wonderful websites, not just the ones you would suspect.

And YES, even if you are fully 100% protected with an antivirus program, whether it is Kaspersky or Norton or whatever antivirus and even if you are 100% current on your updates and downloads… You need more – we think you need the trio… of Kaspersky (that you can get at computer corner) and HitmanPro and Malwarebytes.

There are free versions of all of these available, although they are not as full featured, cannot be fully automated, etc. I like to support the people bringing these great products to us, the programmers and publishers, who have to keep the products current to protect us, so I recommend you purchase the annual subscription.

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!