Technology-Headlines

by George Heymann

Data Loss is inevitable, Back it up!

These days, computers are the repository of so much of our personal information. We interact with them daily; they store a myriad of our documents, from e-mails, music collections, and financial data to our irreplaceable photos. What would you do if your computer was damaged, lost or stolen? The programs themselves would be easy enough to replace, but what about your data?

Being the resident geek among family, friends and coworkers. I’m frequently asked about this very scenario. Just this past week, I was approached by a co-worker who had hundreds of photos stored on her camera’s SD card. She chose the wrong menu option on her camera and accidentally reformatted the storage card instead of deleting the single photo she intended.

It was the only copy of the photos she had.

When she asked if there was anything I could do to help, I determined that she hadn’t attempted to use the camera since the mishap. That was very fortunate. If this happens to you, take the storage card out of your camera and set it aside. Do not take any additional photos or copy any other data to the card as it will overwrite the previously recorded information.

Most camera format programs do not overwrite the data on the card but rather, erase the directory. The directory acts like an index. The index tells your camera or computer where the files are stored on the card so they can be retrieved. So although the card appears to be blank to your camera or computer, the data may still be intact. Fortunately, I was able to retrieve all 358 photos from the storage card using specialized photo recovery software (Art Plus Digital Photo Recovery http://www.artplus.hr/adapps/eng/dpr.htm ) and a card reader.

I refer to this example with the camera because it is a common problem that I’ve seen repeated many times. And it also applies to information stored on our computers. Another friend almost lost his entire music collection due to a hardware problem. We were able to pull the hard drive and extract about 80% of the data before it completely failed, RIP.

The reality is at some point all of us will experience some type of data loss, will you be able to get it back?  Do you back up your data? If you do not, there are several inexpensive options you may want to consider. One option is backing up your data to an external hard drive. These drives are relatively inexpensive; you can find a one-terabyte external USB 2.0 drive for around $100. To give you an idea of just how much storage that is, 1 terabyte (TB) equals 1,024 gigabytes (GB) = 1,048,576 megabytes(MB).

You can do the math for your files but that’s a whole lot of storage!

OK, that’s a good start. If your computer or hard drive fails, you have a backup that will allow you to restore from. But, what if there is a flood or fire, or your computer is lost or stolen? Now your computer is gone and so is your backup. The safest way to insure your data is to have an off-site backup in addition to the on-site backup set you saved to your new external hard drive or other storage device.

Depending on how much data you have to back up and how diligent you are about backing up, there are a few free options you can consider for your off-site back up set. These services allow you to set up up a password protected account and upload your data (to 2 GB) to their servers free of cost. These services include Dropbox www.dropbox.com, zumodrive www.zumodrive.com, Google Docs docs.google.com, and Microsoft Sky Drive at www.officelive.com .

The current advantage to Dropbox and Zumodrive is that besides being able to access your password protected files from any Internet-connected computer, they offer apps for many platforms that let you access your files from your smartphone when you are on the go.

The disadvantage to these free solutions are twofold. First, the amount of free storage is limited. Secondly, chances are you won’t backup as regularly as you would like. It’s easy to let our back up set lapse in which case the updates would not always get done — certainly not every time a file is updated. If you want almost real time off-site backup, then an online backup service is the way to go. In order to use these online backup services you must have a high speed broadband connection.

These services are safe and inexpensive, typically $5 a month. And they work automatically on a schedule you set or transparently in the background when you are not using your computer actively. The data is transmitted over a 128-bit SSL connection and then encrypted again on the remote server. The data is then stored on commercial-grade servers at the remote sites data center.

The initial backup can take some time depending on the amount of data you have to back up. After that, only the data that changes is backed up so the process is much quicker. Carbonite, a commercial backup service, has as its slogan: “You have to back it up to get it back!” I think it would be prudent to heed that advice.

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8 Responses

  1. […] The rest is here: Data Loss is inevitable, Back it up! « Technology-Headlines […]

  2. […] Originally posted here: Data Loss is inevitable, Back it up! « Technology-Headlines […]

  3. Brenda says:

    The above was very good information indeed.Well other solutions for backup are online backups and i personally use an online backup link called safecopy backup for backing up all my files and this has saved me from data loss.

    • gheymann says:

      Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for your feedback, I mention online backup services in my article but instead of suggesting a specific online backup service, I wanted to make sure that the readers were aware that these services are available as an option.

      Regards,

      geO-

  4. pharmacy technician says:

    nice post. thanks.

  5. aaron goodnight says:

    that was great..had a few thigs i didnt know..but another thing you can do is run 2 harddrives and have only one with a boot system have the other one to store files on..thats what im

  6. SD CARD READER | Quality Products Blog says:

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