Monday, December 28, 2009

An End of Year Suggestion

I realize that this is a very busy time of the year; nevertheless I have a suggestion that might save you countless hours of work and frustration. It will only take a few minutes and hopefully you will never need the product of your work.

With more and more of us using our computers and other digital devices for tasks once the province of paper and ink, we accumulate a tremendous amount of digital stuff. There are the electronic pay check stubs, tax reports, bank statements, electronic bills and bill payment documentation and let’s not forget all those names and addresses. Pictures from Johnny’s piano recital or Suzie’s soccer match are stored somewhere on your computer rather than in the shoe box on the top shelf of the closet.

It is great to have all these things available at the click of a mouse. It is disastrous when that doesn’t work…when your data storage fails.

The solution is to pay attention to the old saw “never put all your eggs in one basket.” Make sure you have more than one basket and make sure that all the “eggs” are in each. In other words, back up your data!

There are many ways to do this. There are services that literally back up everything you do by connecting your computer via the Internet to a secure, redundant data storage site. Most of these charge for the service and your computer has to be online. Rather than to try to cover all the features here you can go to PC Magazine’s web site, it has a good summary of these services at,2817,2288745,00.asp

There are other simpler and less expensive options. The easiest is to make copies of the important files on inexpensive CDs or DVDs. Most computers have drives that will “burn” CDs. Since they are so inexpensive I suggest making two copies and making sure that you don’t store them in the same place.

You can also use Flash Drives. These little devices plug into the USB port and can hold a tremendous amount of data. They do, however, have a finite number of read/write cycles (in the thousands).

You may wish to consider the purchase of a USB external hard drive. The prices of these devices have plummeted to a point that you can get a 1 terabyte drive for about $100. Unless you have lots of videos to save, a 1 terabyte drive will handle all your “digital stuff.” Remember that these are mechanical devices and as such can fail. So it is still a good idea to have the most important files also backed up in some more robust format like a CD or DVD.

Again, you may never need these back ups. I hope you don’t. If you do need them you will be happy you spent the time.



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