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PC911 > How-To > Safe Computing > Backing up your data
- Alex -

Backing up data - why you need to do it

This is one of the most important, yet also one of the most neglected areas of computing. Backing up your data should be at the top of your computer maintenance list, right next to Virus Protection. Without data backup or virus protection, you are running the risk of losing your data. And it will happen, don't think that you don't have to worry about it.

Why should you back up?

Data loss can happen in many ways. One of the most common causes is physical failure of the media the data is stored on. You probably have everything saved on your PCs hard drive. That hard drive will not live forever. To quote a friend of mine, "there are only two types of hard drives - the ones that have failed and the ones that will fail." Yes, normally hard drives will live for years without incident. But eventually they will die. It might happen gradually, by more and more bad clusters accumulating until most of the drive is unusable. Or it might happen suddenly, the hard drive just dies without warning.







Another bad storage media are floppy disks. They are good for temporary storage and maybe transporting information, but not for permanent data storage. I've lost count of how many floppies I've tossed because they were bad. And I have talked to countless people who saved valuable data to a floppy only to find out when they needed to access it that the floppy was bad and the data inaccessible.

Another possible cause for data loss is power failure or spikes. It can result in loss of the document you are currently working on because you did not save it before the power failed and your PC shut down, or in loss of your entire hard drive because a power surge fried your motherboard and destroyed the file allocation table of your hard drive.

Also worth mentioning is data loss through virus attacks. There are plenty of nasty computer viruses out there that will delete files on an infected machine. That's why Virus Protection is just as important.

What data should you back up?

You might think that you probably don't really have anything worth backing up, nothing important, no big deal. Let's go through just a few items to jog your memory.

Let's start with your favorite places on the Internet and that long list of bookmarks. Do you want to lose all those? How about the e-mail addresses from all your friends? That would take a long time to accumulate those again. What about that to-do list you wrote? Or about that nice picture somebody e-mailed you and that you saved? How about that family history you collected over the years and put into a database? Maybe you have a document for work, like a presentation or a spreadsheet that you created at home and don't have a copy on your work PC? Think about that saved game of your favorite game where it took you weeks or months to get to that level. These are just the most common examples, and I know that after thinking about it for a while you will realize that there is a lot of information you don't want to lose. That's why you should back up your data.

Page 2: How to back up





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