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In this Issue
Welcome to the April edition of the pc-advice newsletter. This month I will be covering hard disk drives and backing up your system.
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How much information do you currently have about or on your computer? If you don't know then I recommend that you find out. You computer stores all of its information on the Hard Disk Drive and this drive must be protected to keep your information safe. The hard disk drive is a mechanical unit and is prone to mechanical damage. There are different types of damage that can occur and only some types can be economically repaired.
The hard disk drive is like a record player with a drive head, the equivalent of a needle, that reads information of the disk itself. The drive head floats above the hard disk and reads information from the disk where it is stored as a magnetic pattern.
This physical components that make up the disk drive unit are susceptible to physical shock damage and dropping your computer may cause a total loss of access to the information, so be careful with that laptop!!
Data can also be damaged by electrical surges and by a loss of power. If you a working on your computer and it crashes, or you press the reset button, the computer will complain when it is next turned on. Since the early days of Windows 95 this has triggered the running of a program called Scandisk, which does a quick check that the data on the drive is still ok.
The most common case of data loss from the hard disk drive is physical wear and tear on the drive. In the same way that a car engine can fail the parts of a hard drive can fail. When this happens you usually get a warning as the drive will start to make more noise than normal, or it might make a clicking sound. It might just not start-up one day and the computer will produce errors about not being able to find a boot device i.e. the drive.
How long should does a drive last?
What should I do then?
Data files, word processed documents, spreadsheets and emails are all stored on the hard disk drive in different places. If you can organise them to all be in one place then it makes backing them up a lot easier.
The My Documents Folder
My Documents is Microsoft's preferred place for storing personal documents and data on your computer. I you make sure that all the information you care about is stored in this folder then it provides a central place to backup. Depending on the size of your data you will need to pick an appropriate backup device. If you only have a few Word documents then a floppy disc might be the simple answer. If you have a few hundred documents plus pictures and music files then a Zip disk or a CD-Rom might be the best solution.
If the machine is in a business then the data should be backed up on a daily or weekly basis. This might be to a CDRW on a daily basis with a weekly CDR of the weeks work. If the size of the information approaches about 600Mb then you should consider a tape backup system. While these systems can be expensive to buy they give you piece of mind that you can backup Gigabytes of information in minutes.
Remember to take you backups offsite and store them carefully, either with a member of staff or at a bank or other trusted third party.. If you came in on a Monday morning to find out that your computer network had been stolen than how would you manage if your backup tape had been stolen as well. The same would be true if your server caught file and burnt to a crisp. With the correct backup routine you would be able to order a new computer and get you data restored within a day - or even hour!
Advice Bunny - Ask the mystic bunny for advice.
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