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Backup & Data Recovery

Without doubt, data backup is one of the most important aspects of computing and yet it is also one of the most neglected. In an ideal world, backup and virus protection would be the ‘No. 1 priority’ of any serious PC user - because without these, you are running the risk of losing everything that you value on your hard disk storage.

Even with best laid plans, we all know that in reality, things do go wrong, from time to time. What are the consequences when disaster strikes? Can you continue working as if all your important and sensitive (confidential) data is intact? Where can you turn to if the Read/Write heads in the Hard Disk Drive have 'crashed'?

Why do you need to backup?

There are no systems that are immune from failure – mechanical or otherwise, and hence data loss can happen in many different ways. The common cause is physical failure of the storage media. The hard disk drive (on which resides the Operating System, i.e., Windows itself and all your working documents), will not live forever – despite the huge advances and reliability in such technology.

Failure may occur gradually, as the drive fills up with increasing number of ‘Bad Sectors’, until vast chunks of it become unusable. There are instances where the drive just fails to boot with the dreaded message: “NTLDR missing”, indicating possible damage to the File Allocation Table (FAT) table.

Hard drives are susceptible to mechanical shocks, due to very sensitive read/write components inside. In addition, data loss can also occur due to sudden spikes or complete power failure; though laptops with charged battery should help cushion against this. The newer releases of Microsoft Office software suite can be set to perform periodic file saves to disk which protect the document from corruption due to sudden PC shutdown in the event of power failure.

If there is damage to the computer’s main board circuitry, then the hard drive will not necessarily boot with a replacement board that uses different Chipsets or Microprocessor. Under these circumstances the data, though perfectly intact on the drive’ may become inaccessible to the system.

A virus attack on PC storage will most probably render all the documents being infected and some viruses are known to delete certain files needed for Windows to work normally.

Examples of documents that may be important to you?

We can all think about what we value as being important on our PCs and therefore taking regular backups becomes a necessity.

Is there a correct way to backup?

As strange as it may sound, some people are in the habit of keeping a copy of their important files in a separate location (folder) of the SAME hard drive. This is not a good idea, for reasons mentioned earlier. In addition, whilst many small office, home office (SOHO) businesses are happily using Tape Backup technology, this medium is susceptible to external Magnetism and Heat, generated either by the backup equipment itself or the computer’s surrounding. However, Tape backup is popular because it offers many Gigabytes of storage on a single tape cartridge. But it is slow and not as reliable.

Some companies are advertising ‘online’ backup storage, whereby you ‘rent’ disk space in Cyberspace and ‘upload’ whatever data you wish to keep in that location. This is a relatively new concept and many people remain skeptical, as it requires reliance on the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the company providing the storage infrastructure to be available whenever you need access to your data. But the biggest concern some people have with this concept is ‘not knowing who else has access to your data’ – without your knowledge?

The consequences of not backing up data are obvious; one ordinary day you switch on your system, only to find nothing happens. The hard drive is ‘gone’, including all the data on it and very little can be done to recover it.

One reason why people are put off from taking regular backups is that it is seen as a chore. In one survey it was reported that around 25% of nearly 4,000 respondents never backed up their data. Also, whilst many backup programs are available off-the-shelf, they are packed with so many features as to confuse most ordinary users.

Let us take care of IT.

We can help put in place a regime that performs this task efficiently and that won’t cost the earth too.

Call for a jargon free chat about IT on 07732 729 491
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