Stan's Chrome-Plated Tech Tips

Thursday, October 14, 2010


You need a backup plan

One of the most common things we see in the computer repair business is about the scariest thing in the world to the typical person who seeks our services - they can't see the data on their hard drive and they fear the worst - the dreaded data recovery. You know, the Data Recovery your momma warned you about. The one that costs upwards of $2,000, requires your send your drive off to a clean room, and offers no real guarantees. Yeah, THAT data recovery.

So today I offer you, Dear Reader, the perfect economically viable solution. One that will cost you a fraction of what that data recovery is going to cost you a fraction of that pricey data recovery. It's something so beautiful in its simplicity, you'll be slapping yourself that you hadn't thought of it first. Backup. That's right, a sound backup strategy will ensure you'll never have to plunk down thousands to get back those wedding photos of you trying to breakdance to the Rob Base classic, "It Takes Two."

So here's what you need - both local and off-site backup. The local backup will get you back up and running quickly in the event of hard drive or other system failure. This strategy typically involves an external hard drive connected to your computer and you can use whatever software or manual method to copy your files to the external drive. Apple users (those with OS X 10.5 or later) have it easy with the built-in Time Machine software. PC users have a number of options, but the one that's easiest to use and I find most effective is Acronis True Image Home.

Acronis is a full system imaging solution that not only backs up your files, but takes a full snapshot of your computer on any schedule you set. It includes a utility to make a bootable CD or flash drive to start your computer up and restore from any backup you like. It even has options to restore your computer to different hardware. That comes in very handy when migrating from one computer to another. We use Acronis in our day-to-day computer service and repair and honestly recommend it without reservation.

So now that you've got the local backup covered, let's talk about off-site storage. You're probably wondering why you need both a local backup and off-site, but in the event of any kind of disaster, you'll be glad you were wise enough to invest in both. While there are any number of off-site backup strategies that can work for you, the easiest and most effective is taking advantage of an online backup service. While there are any number of services out there, none of them are offering 2GB of free online Storage like Mozy.

Now for the average person, 2GB isn't going to amount to all that much, but it'll get a large chunk of documents and photos. Those of you with extensive music libraries should consider their unlimited product. For just $4.95/month or $54.95/yr, Mozy gives you unlimited storage. You'll also be able to access your files while on the go via their online portal, and you'll have a real-time backup going on whenever you're online. This is particularly useful to you laptop users on the go.

So now you'll probably ask, "Does this mean I'm absolutely safe in the event of my hard-drive crashing, Stan?" Well, when it comes to computers, there are no absolutes, but you'll definitely be ahead of the game when it comes to recovering lost data. Maybe it's just like the Doctor's office, but customers tell me how they backup everything but just this one time they didn't and everything crashed. You don't want to be another statistic, so get your backup plan in place, test it, test it again, and 6 months from now, test it again.

There are plenty of other things you can be doing to ensure your data's availability, and I'll be sure to mention them in future blog posts. Now if you've been unfortunate enough to have your hard drive fail, fear not, all is not lost. Come visit our West Hollywood, CA computer repair and service business where we have hardware and software solutions that can recover all but the most severely damaged hard drives (or those pesky Seagate 7200.11 drives with the bad firmware). If you have one of those dead drives, we highly recommend contacting Drive Savers for a free evaluation.

But in the meantime - Back it up.

-Coming at you strong from the 90046, Stan

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