~~ tem·po·rar·y ) Pronunciation Key (tmp-rr)
adj. Lasting, used, serving, or enjoyed for a limited time. ~~
If there is one issue that continually surprises me, it is how surprised people are to find that the data stored on their computer isn’t going to last forever. Data stored on a computer is going to last somewhere between 10 seconds and 10 years. There will be no warning that you are about to loose everything on your HDD – one day you will turn on your system and the screen will say “Hard Drive not found” and all that you will be able to do is scream, cry, and cuss (Which will not bring back your data – I know, I’ve tried).
As a life long geek I learned many years ago how fleeting electronic storage is. Hours of programming can be wiped out with the flick of a switch (That actually happened to me. A friend and I spent ˝ the night programming an adventure game when his wife walked in a flipped off a light switch – it turned off the wall socket that the PC was plugged into. Poof, Gone…. Nothing to do but cry into our Dr. Pepper. I learned then to save my work often, and to back up what I couldn’t afford to loose.)
AT the shop I often hear “All of my tax information for the past 5 years is on that computer – I don’t have a back up… can you save the data?” “ or “The only surviving pictures of my aunt Polly is on that hard drive” or “All of my company records are on that PC… Can you save me?” The answer is usually along the lines of “We can try…” or “We’ll do what we can” but those answers are more for consolation than for portraying the situation accurately. The TRUTH of the matter is that about 50% of the times we can recover what was lost – but the recoveries are NEVER 100%. Even in the cases where we can get to the data and burn it to a CD – there is always data that is corrupt.
After years and years of telling people “ALL DATA ON A PC IS IN A TEMPORARY STATE” you start to loose your sense of pity for people who fail to heed the warning. I sometimes want to say “Obviously it wasn’t too important – or you would have BACKED IT UP!”…. But I don’t. Instead I say “Maybe I can get it back – but don’t get your hopes up…. Here’s a Kleenex”
So what should you do ? BACK UP YOUR DATA! There are many data back up solutions – do a little research and decide which one is best for you. A few things to keep in mind are:
· KISS – Keep It Simple (Stupid). If you go with a complicated back up scheme, you are less likely to do it regularly.
· False Sense of Security – It is easy to get lulled into a false sense of security with backups. TEST your backups on a regular basis. (I have been let down more than once by a bad backup.)
· Back up your back up – you may want to look into a scheme that allows you to make multiple back ups onto different devices.
· Organization is the key! – keep your files organized on your hard drive so that you can back up only what you need – and then find it again should you need to retrieve data from your backup.
· Don’t back up programs – You only need to back up DATA. Programs can be re-loaded, it is the DATA that you will need to recover should your HDD go belly up.
· Don’t rely on ROLL BACK. Many viruses are attacking your restore image files. If you roll back to a previous day, you may be re-installing the problem all over again. Roll back is cool, and will get you out of many jams – but it is far from foolproof.
· Don’t trust online back ups. I don’t trust anyone with my data – much less someone I don’t know. I can’t imagine sending my financial information, credit card information, and pictures of my grand baby to someone else’s hard drive.
Here is the simple way I back up. I have two hard drives (HDD) in all of my systems. Every few days I grab my “My Documents” folder and move it to the second HDD. Then every few weeks I burn a copy onto a CD and stick it in a cd-notebook. I can still end up loosing data, but not much. I can back up my documents whenever I want, simply by copying a folder from one HDD to the other.
To make my back up easier I wrote a small batch file using the “Xcopy” command. I will share it with you if you e-mail me – Along with the gratuitous “If this blows up your computer it is your problem” disclaimer.
Good luck – and for those of you who haven’t got a back up plan… data recovery goes for between $100.00 to $400.00 PER HOUR… We accept checks and credit cards :o)
E-mail me any thoughts, questions, or suggestions for future Tech Tips to: firstname.lastname@example.org