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Are You Prepared if your Hard Drive fails?

Tips to Help Secure Your Data
Imagine you wake up and go check your e-mail in the morning only to find that your computer has stopped working. Your hard drive has failed; you don’t have any backup system in place. All of your personal files, from tax returns to pictures of your loved ones to family videos, are gone forever. This scenario plays out all too often, why not take a few simple steps to protect yourself and avoid this from ever happening to you!

To help avoid this headache, there are many options available to store your data and to keep it secure. We are going to talk about a few of the options available to consumers today that provide ease of mind regarding the protection of your valuable files.

CD/DVD – This is an effective solution to backup some of your most important files. Most PC’s come with a CD/DVD Burner and it is simple with today’s operating systems to burn a disc with your important files directly to a CD/DVD and keep them in a safe place. Simply insert a blank CD/DVD into your burner and copy and paste the files onto the media folder. All computers that come with DVD or CD burners have burning software preinstalled on the computer which may help the user set a specific time to backup their data, specify which files are to be burned and many other options that vary from program to program. Now when it comes the type of DVD or CD that you need the user must know , the difference between the two media options are; CD’s typically hold 700MB of data and DVD’s can hold 4.7GB of data. This is sizable difference in storage space for about the same cost per disc. There are many types of DVD’s and CD’s that come with different surfaces for example there are White Inkjet Printable DVD’s, Silver Inkjet printable DVD’s many more. The same applies for CD’s as they also come with different surfaces and finishes that each suits the needs of a specific user. One more thing that should be considered when purchasing a disc is the writing speed that the drive can handle. Most modern burners support burning speeds as follows; for most DVD’s discs can be burned at a maximum of 16x for CD’s, writing speeds can go up to 48x. The end user should however, check with their drives manual to see the adequate writing speeds for the type of content that they are burning. The disadvantage to using this method of back up is that the CD/DVD’s burn fairly slowly and are not always universally compatible. Also, depending on the amount of data you are backing up, you may need many CD/DVD’s.

External Hard Drives – Manufacturers like LaCie, G-Technology, and ClickFree offer a simple solution to your storage problems with external hard drives that are reasonably priced. These hard drives are peripheral devices for your computer that usually connect though a USB 2.0 cable and offer “Plug and Play” capability. Some of these offer some customization as to how the drive backs up your data; these options are accessible via proprietary software built into the drives themselves. These drives come in a wide variety of capacities. They offer simple and effective methods to ensure that if you do have a hard drive failure or data loss, your data can be recovered easily. In terms of the data capacity that these drives offer, the aforementioned manufacturers have disk drives that range from 250GB up to 1 TB of space. It is up to the end user to determine which drive and what capacity they may specifically need as the range of different drives vary tremendously. As mentioned above, USB 2.0 is the one of the most recognizable methods to connect any peripheral device to a computer. However when it comes to External Hard Drives there are many new methods to which a drive can connect to a computer. These include:

  • FireWire connectivity
  • USB Connectivity
  • Ethernet connectivity

These drives are also subject to mechanical failure and will need to be replaced as part of your data management plan.

Network Attached Storage Device (NAS) –LaCie, Hewlett Packard and other manufacturers have been offering these devices for situations where multiple users need to store and access the same data. These devices are less cumbersome than traditional servers and have been geared to support small businesses and for the Tech savvy home. Through your home network you can connect one of these devices like LaCie d2 Network 2 or Hewlett Packard Storage Works Data Vault, where you can partition the drive and create a file server from which everyone who needs access to the data has it available to them. These devices are now wirelessly accessible and some offer the ability to store your data securely on the web to allow user total remote access to items stored on the drive. These, like traditional external hard drives, also have proprietary software that allows you to instruct the device to store your data at your convenience. These devices have become much less bulky recently. For using network attached storage it is still recommended that you have another set of back-up tapes/discs offsite so if something were to happen to the facility/home you have them in you could still recover your data.

Tape Drives – Tape Drives are a tried and true way to backup you data. They make backing up your files an easy to do automated task. You are only required to change the tape in the drive and store them securely to prevent loss from a catastrophe. Tapes have much larger capacities than CD/DVD’s; some drives offer as much as 3 TB of data with the compression feature. Most tape drives work with Windows Backup and the ones that don’t come with software that allow you to customize your backups.

Online Backup Service – Cloud services are now available to back-up your data on an off-site service. There are many of these available; Carbonite.com, Mozy, and HP Upline. They all offer essentially the same service. These programs use a software program that compresses the files then using a secure encryption transmits the files you to select and saves them on an off-site server. This is a very effective way to secure your data; most of the software packages allow you to schedule routine backups. The system does require a monthly fee to store your data and depending on the amount of data you are trying to store and the transfer times can often be slow. Online backup also requires an internet connection to use, so if you have to do a system restore but do not have any connectivity you are out of luck. Online storage services are a relatively new business and if the company you chose to store your data with goes out of business you might lose your backup. There are also some questions of privacy. You trust your data to a 3rd party that is subject to Cyber-Attack; you might have to deal with your data being stolen at some point. They also have limited capacities so if you are trying to store a large amount of data your cost will increase rapidly.

It is important to save your data and keep you personal information well protected as we vault into the digital age. If you back up your data properly, you’ll ensure that your business and personal files will never be lost.

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