Security's Everyman

Security's Everyman

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Data Backup and Recovery

The Mogull wrote a blog post about a valuable but mostly unwanted Christmas gift yesterday. His recommendation was a reliable and easy backup system for home PCs. Not a bad idea. Actually it's a pretty good gift idea. I can't count the number of times that I've had either friends, family, coworker, or clients call me and say with a tremble in their voice that their system crashed and won't come back up. Many times the hard drive was wasted and all of their data, and often memories, was lost. A good backup system would have saved a lot of heartache. Especially since more and more we are storing everything on our PCs. Tax returns, Pictures, Work documents, etc... Obviously a backup isn't fool proof. It has it's weaknesses. It's often hard to use and it's still vulnerable to defective drives, bad backups, and disasters that may befall your home. Other options are online backup services. I'm not crazy about these myself because of the fact that you are storing possibly valuable personal information about yourself on a strangers server. If you choose this option make sure you use a reputable service.

One other thing that I have found useful is having good data recovery tools at your disposal for those times when you receive those calls from friends and family. I know these often aren't cheap, but they can save a lot of pain for those who have no backup. My personal favorite is SpinRite by Steve Gibson of GRC and the SecurityNow! netcast. I have used it many times to recover data and bring "dead" PCs back to life.

Finding the right gift for those on our list who are heavy PC users is often an easy task. Think smart instead of easy. A fun PC game or toy is nice, but it's not much good if your system dies and all your data is lost.

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