Don’t let this happen ... make sure your computer data is backed up

The aim of this short article is to give you an idea how to save important computer data from disk failure, like digital photographs, on a budget.

During my interesting working life at an IBM service engineer I was always involved in what most people have heard from time to time as “Disaster Recovery.” Almost everyone never gives it very much more thought as that entails too many things to know and do.

So how can we ensure the safety of your important computer data from mechanical failure on a budget?  In a nutshell, you need to copy important or all your data onto another hard disk. This procedure is also good for keeping this data available in case you need to leave your home in a hurry.

This routine can be automated by using one of the many backup programs available. I happen to use NovaBackup, but learning how to use it successfully for the first time may take some time. In this article we will do it manually. So let me explain how to do this without having to take a loan at the bank.

Most people do not back up their data because they have no idea how their internal computer disk works, never thinking how amazing that it works at all. Most of the disks we use in our computers today are mechanical even though there are electronic disks on the market, like a disk-on-key but the computer sees it as an internal disk. Hard disks consist of one or more plates coated with an iron oxide rotating at very high speeds and specially designed heads float over the disk plate like the wing of an airplane. These heads land in a special area when the disk is stopped and start to fly when the disk begins to rotate. When the heads fly over the plate surface they maintain a gap of 0.000001 (one millionth) of an inch. A human hair is 0.003 of an inch – more than twice as thick. When I once attended an IBM seminar the lecturer said it was like you sitting in a Boing 747 flying at the speed of sound less than 50 meters over rocky ground. For this reason I would suggest you backup your data.

 The cheapest and fastest way to store a lot of data is to purchase an eSATA disk (the ones used inside computers) as they are cheaper than the fancy external disks and 8 times faster when connected to the very fast USB3 port. Get at least a 1TB disk. You can always add a special USB3 hub if you don’t have a free port. You will also need an external USB3 eSATA disk docking station that cost about $50 to connect your new disk to the USB 3 port. I suggest the Orico docking station as shown as standing up dissipates the heat better than the older flat version I have. Connect the docking station, data (USB3 only) to your computer and the power cord to a power socket. Remember only USB3 components.

Copy/Backup all your important photos and files onto the new disk and from time to time add any new information. Do not do a complete copy each time by overwriting the old data in case your disk decides to die while you are busy doing a backup. If you really, really want to automate your backups I have found NovaBackup to be very reliable. You may just need someone to initially set it up for you.

One last thought – I suggest that after making a copy you take the disk out of the docking station and keep it in a safe place not far from your front door in case you need to leave home in a hurry. For those of you that know the Google options you can also store family photos on the cloud via Google Drive for free. The quality Google uploads automatically is not amazing but they will always be there and good enough for an online library. Keeping the original photo quality takes too long to upload and is not free.

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