Is it a coincidence that I have been interrupted by customers looking for data recovery twice since starting this article?  It has been said, “There are two types of hard drives: those that have failed, and those that will fail.” (A hard drive is the part of a computer that stores your pictures, documents, etc.)  Our records show that, next to virus removal, hard drive failure is the most common problem we see in our computer repair shop.  Sooner or later, you will be faced with possible data loss.  What is your plan to protect yourself?  World Backup Day is March 31, the day before April Fool’s.  Here are some tips to make sure you aren’t one of the fools on April 1st.

In my experience, the reason most people do not backup their computer is that they either:

  1. Don’t know that they should
  2. Don’t know how (or think they do)
  3. Don’t care.

First of all #1 is not an excuse.  These are the same people that think that they don’t need antivirus or that free antivirus is sufficient.  If you own a computer, you need to take the responsibility of educating yourself on its use.  Not doing so is just as irresponsible as not putting oil in your car and ignoring traffic lights.

I can’t do much about #3, so I will focus on #2, or those who don’t know how to backup their computer.

Remember the 3, 2, 1, rule of backup. You should have at least 3 copies of everything important, stored on at least 2 different types of media, and 1 copy should be stored off-site.  If you follow this simple rule, you shouldn’t ever have to pay for data recovery.

What is the best way to backup?  Here are three methods in order of increasing preference:

  1. Print everything – This includes pictures, documents, etc.  Burn all music to CD and videos to DVD.  Mail your pictures to your mom or grandma.  She’ll be thrilled, and as an added bonus, she’ll store them for you for free.

  2. Backup to External Media – This could be anything from DVD’s to an external USB hard drive.  Find a program to automate the process (SyncBackSE is my favorite)  To finish up, get a safe deposit box at your bank and put your backups in it.  Again, an alternative is to mail everything to your mom/grandma.

  3. Use an online backup service – The best backup system is the one you don’t have to think about.  Why?  Because, personally, I’m too stupid to remember to do it on a regular schedule.  Most online backup systems are “set it and forget it.”  Your data will (usually) be stored in two different data centers on opposite sides of the country, and can be downloaded from any internet-enabled computer as long as you have the password.  Most services use encryption that would require the resources of the CIA or KGB to crack, so your data is probably safer on their computers than on yours.  The only caveat is to find a reliable vendor.

Data loss is the most expensive, the most devastating, and fortunately the most preventable computer problem that you will experience.  Your family photos are worth infinitely more than the hardware they are stored on.  Don’t put yourself in the position of having to pay a fortune for data recovery to get your memories back.  Please choose not to be an April fool and do something this weekend to protect your data

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