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How to Prevent Data Loss from Hardware and Software Failures

If you want to ensure that none of your critical data is lost in the event of a hardware or software problem with your computer, there is only one way to do it. Back up, back up and back up your data as often as possible.

There are many different ways to ensure that your data is backed up, and as technology becomes available back up methods become much simpler. Take me for instance. Ten years ago, I backed up all of my files onto floppy disks. Eight years ago, I installed a tape drive and managed my back up process that way. Seven years ago, I automated the tape back up. When the tape drive failed, I moved to Zip disks. Tired of the clunky collection, I moved to CD backups.

Last year, I began using an Active Directory file server that not only backs up my files but also synchronizes them with what is currently on my hard drive several times a day.

I also make a DVD back up of my machine every month – just in case!

Let’s look for a moment at what a back up is. Backing up your computer files means that you are simply making a copy of your data that will be stored somewhere other than on your computer. You should always have a back up of at least your most important files, because should you experience a hardware or software problem you will still be able to access your files.

Many people don’t back up their files, because they don’t know what they need to back up. Start with those files that cannot easily be recreated. Then, move on to files to which you make frequent changes just in case you accidentally change something that you shouldn’t have. Back up your music collection – because this can be quite expensive to replace in the event of data loss.

Finally, you should back up your preference files and settings. And, make a copy of your registry. It may not be necessary to back these files up with every back up, but you should try to run a complete back up at least once a month.

In general, best practice is to back up your files at least monthly and more frequently if you access your files regularly. If you have the ability to establish auto-backup then by all means do it!

If you are a windows user, depending on the variety of the operating system that you are using it may be possible for you to set up automated back ups that can also be restored directly through the operating system from your CD, DVD or other storage device.

Quite honestly, it really doesn’t matter how you back up your files so long as you are backing up your files and storing them somewhere other than on your hard drive. Trust me when I tell you that if you have a back up – even an old one – it can save you a tremendous amount of aggravation and money in the future should you experience a virus related software problem, fire, flood or even a dropped hard drive.

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