Share The Indy
I wandered into my office last night to check on a client’s PC and knew immediately that something was wrong. The office was conspicuously quiet. His usually noisy computer sat silently under my desk in an electricity-deprived coma. I pressed the power button but wasn’t surprised that nothing happened. I checked a few connections and went through the usual troubleshooting only to determine that there would be no “Aha!” moment. My computer was dead. I’ve not had the heart to begin the morning’s post-mortem.
I used to have a sign in my office that read, “Blessed are the pessimists, for they hath made backups.”
There are fewer more harrowing moments than the one in which you realize that, not only has your computer just become a boat anchor, but that your documents, spreadsheets, pictures, databases, music, e-mail, contact lists, Internet “Favorites” and more might be gone forever.
For the next few weeks, I’ll be talking about data backups.
First, do you have something to back your files up to? Forget about floppy drives. Many computers made in the last five years didn’t include a floppy drive unless you asked for one. Even still, using floppy disks is slow, cumbersome and prone to failure. Do not trust your data to a floppy disk!
The easiest devices for standard users to store backups on are USB “thumb drives,” or external hard drives, depending on the volume and size of files you’re backing up and the portability you require.
However, do you know what to backup, and where to find it? There are several places where Windows and other applications store the files you’ll want to have in case of a computer emergency. Windows keeps most of these places tucked out of sight because they’re not user-friendly. There’s also a lot of “junk” in these places that you wouldn’t want to back up, including “temp files,” application settings and superfluous files that you don’t need. Some data (such as Outlook Express e-mail and settings) is buried so deep that most people would never find it or know what to do with it if they did. Don’t lose heart, there are easy solutions.
If you’re in a business environment, ask your company’s IT person to explain which locations are being backed up. I’ve seen many cases where a shared network drive on a server is backed up every night, but users were storing files on their Desktops or under a “My Documents” folder that wasn’t being backed up. Be sure you know where to store your business data.
Though my poor client’s computer may have shuffled its last bits, I slept soundly last night knowing that the data I need are safe. I can get to it when I need it. You deserve the same sense of security, both at home and in the workplace. Don’t wait until disaster strikes before thinking about your data! Next week I will discuss one of my favorite free backup utilities.