Some Updates & Don’t Lose it All!

Well, as you’ve probably guessed, I’ve been pretty busy lately and haven’t had a chance to post anything new. Well, it’s time to play catch-up, lol.

I finally caved and bought myself a new laptop. My old one has definitely seen better days (it’s been being beaten-up on an almost daily basis by my 5yo), and it has apparently decided that a cooling fan and doing a complete factory restore aren’t enough to stop it from constantly shutting itself off. I’m sure eventually I’ll figure out what’s causing the problem (I think there’s an issue with the monitor driver), but for now the constant shut-downs interrupt my day-to-day life way too much to spend too much time worrying about it. So, that’s where around a week and a half went – setting up the new laptop and transferring and organizing all my data and files. I’m still not done with the organizing, but I can chip away at that a little at a time.

I’ve also enrolled in a University’s online Bachelor Degree program. (No, it’s not that evil school whose initials are PU!) This school is very reputable, and I can’t wait to start my classes this Tuesday. Oh, and I’m getting my degree in English – I haven’t decided what my minor is going to be yet – I’m going to have to speak with my academic advisor about that before I decide.

Okay, time for another computer lesson!

Backing up is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TO PRESERVE YOUR DATA. I know, I hate all-caps too, but I needed to make sure you understood how important this is…even if it meant yelling at you :-).

You are probably thinking…”Okay, I burned my pictures to DVDs. I’m covered, right?” Guess again. If your computer were to have a major failure today, what information would you lose? Here’s a rundown of some of the stuff that would be gone if your laptop got oh, let’s say run over by a train:

  • Pictures
  • Music
  • Website Log-ins
  • Custom Settings
  • Letters, Faxes, etc.
  • Resumes
  • E-mails
  • Videos
  • Downloads
  • Software

And those are just the ones that come to mind quickly.

By now some of you may be freaking out, but don’t worry…there are very easy, and fairly inexpensive ways to prevent this catastrophe.

Most Windows-based computers now come with Backup and Restore (located in your Control Panels). The purpose of this is to allow you to schedule automatic backups, basically allowing you to go about your business knowing that your data is being backed up in case of a computer failure. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Have plenty of blank DVD-Rs around and do your backups with you present so you can change the DVDs as needed. You can purchase a 100-pack of DVD-Rs for around $25. The brand isn’t that important as long as you don’t purchase a brand you’ve never heard of before.
  • Purchase an external hard drive. These generally plug into your computer or laptop via a USB connection and can be left unattended during backup. The only drawback to this method of backup is that some drives are programmed to shut down after a certain amount of inactivity. What I’ve done to get around this is set an appointment in my calendar every two days with a 15 minute reminder that my drive needs to be plugged in and active, with the backup scheduled a few mintues behind the calendar reminder. Another nice thing about an external hard drive is that you can also save files to it manually and work on them from there. You can purchase a 1 Terabyte (1000 Gigabyte/10000 Megabyte) external drive for around $100. The key here is to realize that external drives are wonderful, but they don’t last forever. You can typically expect to get 5-8 years out of one.
  • Another option is to purchase an internal hard drive and an enclosure for it. The benefits of this option are that internal hard drives generally last longer than externals, they are also usually cheaper, the enclosures can take either an IDE or SATA drive of virtually any size, and the enclosure is only around $25.
  • There are also many companies offering online storage for backups. I tried it, but wasn’t too impressed. First of all, they control how much space you get, and the more you need, the more it costs. Secondly, there’s no telling when a natural disaster could occur and wipe out thier servers. At least if you’re using any of the other methods and your house starts to burn down, you can grab your backup on the way out, saving any precious pictures, etc.

So, there you go. My recommendation would be to figure out which backup method will work best for you and get your backups scheduled as soon as possible…you never know when a power surge or some other catastrophe could hit your computer.

Feel free to e-mail me if you get stuck or have any questions! 🙂

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