Saturday, September 23, 2006

Variety equals security

These days you can buy insurance protection against almost every eventuality. Whatever the danger – accident, fire, death or disability – there's a policy to protect you.

Things are however different on the computer front. People don't seem to worry much about the potential loss of their personal data. But anyone who stores important documents on their computer needs a good back-up strategy.

"The important thing is to do it regularly," advises Karsten Violka of c't, a Hannover-based PC magazine. This is not just because the computer contains sensitive document. Hard drives can break down and computers can be stolen, either of which could spell the end of entire photo, video or MP3 collections.

Also, anyone who regularly tries out new software is well-advised to make system backups say Arne Arnold from the Munich-based magazine PC-welt.

If the changes made by the new program cannot be undone, you often have to start the computer from square one, for example by accessing the System Restore option in Windows XP.

People who use their computers intensively should save their data daily.

"It's important to set up a strategy, for example to make a complete backup on the first day of every month and to back up the changes on a weekly basis," recommends Arnold.

Backup Programs

Freeware programs like Filesync ( let users move data to external hard drives. The software compares the destination and source drives and only updates new data.

If automatic backup systems are preferable, Arnold recommends backup programs wih timers.

Windows XP also allows automatic backups, which can be found under "Programs/Accessories/System Programs/Backup."

Hard drives and USB thumbdrives are also well designed for data storage. Just like with backup programs, these can be set to copy all data or only changes since the last update.

People who save daily should create a file for each day, which has the advantage of creating multiple copies of all data.

Duplication is the core of a good strategy. Anyone who regularly saves data onto CD or DVD is already playing it safe.

"But as soon as you have so much data that it doesn't fit onto a blank disc, hard drives become the only practical solution," says Arnold.

Particularly important data should not be stored on just one medium, warns Violka.

Three to five rewritable backups should be utilized that can be written over one after another. Ideally, hard drives, USB drives and discs should be kept in separate locations.

"You have about five years before you should replace the data on a DVD onto a newer data storage device," advices Arnold.

Tags: Backup security

No comments: