Newbie 101: Preventing Data Loss

image I rebooted. That was the last thing I did to my computer. During the reboot, a strange beeping noise permeated from the tower. I cringed at the thought of what had just happened. Immediately I knew that my hard drive was fuxxored. The reality made my spine cringe, as if nails were scrapping a virtual chalkboard. Years of pictures, movies, music; all lost with a click of the mouse.

This is a hard lesson for anyone who invests time and money into their computer system. A computer is only as good as the data it holds. Without my data, the programs running on the computer seemed empty and useless. The hardest part about this whole situation was it held precious photos and videos from my daughter’s first year of life.

Luckily, I had some of this data backed up to different locations. The videos were put on a dvd at some point which my mother-in-law keeps. I can make a copy from her. The pictures were up on a photo sharing website so those were ok. The music was lost, as well as other documents for my school and business. I could somewhat recreate those. The music on the other hand was still in my head, but the hours I put in to creating those songs were lost forever.

The funny part about this whole situation is that this wasn’t the first time this has happened to me. Do you think I learned anything from the first incident? I thought I had. The current drive that had just died was actually my back up drive, a 120 gig external hard drive. I bought the drive thinking it would be a great way to make sure I had some sort of backup. My mistake was removing the files from my main drive in order to gain space.

Below are tips on how to prevent this nightmare from occurring to you.

Periodic Backups

Backing up your data every now and then is the most logical way to keep from losing anything. This can be done several ways. You could manually burn all your files to cd or dvd. Of course this would require you to have some sort of burner (if you don’t have a cd or dvd burner by now, its time to step into the 21st century!)
The automated option is to use backup software that is scheduled to make a backup every so often. You can schedule the backup to run nightly, weekly or monthly. The data can be written over, or appended to, depending upon how often the data changes. For example, if the data doesn’t get updated or added to very often, a weekly backup would be fine. If, on the other hand, you are constantly updating and adding to your data storage, a nightly backup might be the more logical option.

Norton Ghost

Norton Ghost is utility software that allows you to schedule backups to a cd or dvd burner, or any other storage device. You can also manually backup files, and restore specific files. Ghost can also make an entire copy of your system and put it on another drive. For example, if your main hard drive dies, or your operating system won’t boot up, install your ghosted drive into your computer and everything will boot up like it did when the drive was ghosted. I know lots of people that keep a ghosted hard drive separate from their computer. Every few months they ghost the drive to maintain any new programs they may have installed. Norton Ghost is very user friendly and will help ease the burden of backing up your data.

External Storage

An external hard drive is another easy solution to data protection. Most connect via a USB connection, which makes it very mobile. Purchase a drive with a lot of space, so that you can backup everything from every computer in your house. But do not make my same mistakes. Use the external only as a backup, not your main storage device. When my external hard drive died I wasn’t using as it was intended. Instead of the main storage area for your system, use it only as a backup device.
Another key to preventing data loss is to make sure your data is free of spyware and viruses. It’s important to run an anti-virus solution as well as spyware cleaning software. Your backup could easily be infected if your entire system suddenly gets a virus. For more info on how to deal with spyware, check out the spyware Newbie 101 article.

Keep your data safe, and you will be so relieved if suddenly your computer decides to give you issues. A nice updated backup will be the smartest geeky mom move you make.

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