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Computer Advice from the Experts

How to Prevent the Loss of Vital Company Data

Data backups are like a car's spare tire. We seldom think about them until we need them, but when we need them we REALLY, REALLY NEED them! Here's how to develop layers of protection that will help you whether you've simply overwritten a valuable file or lost the entire office to a fire or flood.

A hard drive crash CAN happen to you, with the resulting loss of data. In fact, odds are it WILL happen to you unless you take steps to avoid the loss. It stands to reason that the most complex mechanical component in a computer system is the one most likely to fail; that component is your hard drive. The good news is that your systems and data can be brought back to life!

I mentioned "layers" of protection. Here's what we typically do with our clients.

1) A technology assessment of your company identifies your critical information - your databases, email files, billing information, customer lists, direct mail database, marketing data, pricing information, accounts receivable (and all other accounting files), scheduling data, tax returns, and other vital files -- whatever they might be.

2) Next we build a local repository that stores a copy of these files. This could be an older machine, repurposed to maintain an up-to-date copy of your corporate info, or just another PC in the office. Depending on the amount of data to be copied, an additional hard drive may be installed.

3) Finally, for disaster recovery purposes, an offsite copy of this vital information is made. We recommend using an Internet-based remote backup service. (We don't recommend tape drives for a variety of reasons.)

Your offsite copy is made once a day, just as you would a tape backup -- but using a remote backup service is a better idea. A remote backup service reduces hardware problems, eliminates the possibility of human error (changing tapes, etc.) and facilitates recovery in the event of a true disaster. With a remote backup service you just download your data to get it back. Once you've logged in to the remote backup server, you can see
your files and restore them yourself, or copy them to any computer you want. It's really quite simple. The better remote backup systems offer multiple versions of each file, so you can go back in time and restore older copies if needed.

ANYTHING is better than nothing. If you don't have any backups, then go buy a 300GB or 500GB external hard drive (Maxtor OneTouch drives are excellent) and get started. When you've copied your data, pack the drive back up and put it in the trunk of your car. Update the drive weekly. But check out our Internet-based remote backup service before you do -- it is an excellent value.

About the Author: Stephen Worden, the principal consultant for Illuminova Technical Services, has 25 years of computer, network, and electronics experience. His company specializes in small business support, of up to fifty computers or so. We provide local and remote backup services to many of our clients. If there's anything we can do to help, kindly give us a call at (302) 999-1899 or learn more at

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