Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Back up your Data!

PC and Data Safety Tips
To quote a friend of mine, "There are only two kinds of hard drives: the ones that have already crashed
and the ones that will eventually crash."
This is a very true statement. If this hasn't happened to you yet, don't worry - it will.
To be prepared for a disaster like that, you should back up your data - ALL your data.
To make this process easier, you should have your data well organized on your hard drive.
That My Documents folder in Windows is there for a purpose. You should keep all your files in that folder,
no matter if they are Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, pictures, whatever.
That way you can simply backup just that folder instead of having to go hunt on your hard drive trying to
remember where you put all your files.
You can actually set up almost every decent program to save its files into a folder you specify.
Take a few minutes to do that, you will be grateful later.

You probably noticed that I said earlier "most of your data".
Most people forget that there is more than just your Word documents.
What about your bookmarks that you accumulated over the years? Your e-mail addresses?
The saved game of Quake that took you three months to get to that level?
Unfortunately, this type of data cannot be stored in the My Documents folder.
So be sure that you don't forget to back up that information as well.

Backup Methods

If you don't have much on your PC, you might get away with copying a few files to a few floppies.
Chances are though, that you need a lot more space.
Thankfully there are several options that make it easy.
A very popular tool is the Iomega zip drive. It holds 100 MB of data per cartridge and can
easily be transported.
Tape drives are relatively cheap, but slow, and the tapes are very sensitive to heat etc.
Another possibility is to back up to another hard drive, either a second drive in your PC or another
hard drive in another PC if your PC is connected to a network.
A new and increasingly popular way is to back up to a CD burner.
You can get a re-writeable CD burner that will let you reuse the same CD for your
backups over and over.
You can also use the CD burner to make your own personalized music CDs.
My personal recommendation is the Hewlett Packard 8100i.

Make an Emergency Disk
If your hard drive crashes or your PC won't boot anymore
for whatever reason, you need a bootable floppy disk.
You can create this easily in Windows 98 by going to
Start/Settings/Control Panel/Add Remove Programs/Startup Disk/Create Disk.
This will create a bootable floppy with CD ROM support that will be very valuable to you when
that moment comes.
In Windows 95, this process is a little more complicated as the floppy will not automatically support the
CD ROM drive.
You need to manually copy the drivers to your boot disk.

Power Protection A very important factor that is often neglected is the supply of power to your PC.
If you live in an area with frequent power outages, regular brownouts or in a house with bad wiring,
this could cause data loss on your PC.
To prevent this, you should consider getting an uninterruptable power supply, or UPS.
It will alert you when the power drops or completely disappears, and provide you with 5 to 10 minutes
(depending on the model) of battery power to give you time to save your data and shutdown your PC
My personal recommendation is APC.

There is a lot of heat produced inside your PC, mainly by the main processor, but also by other
devices like CD drives, hard drives, video cards, etc. If the temperature gets too high,
your PC will start behaving very oddly including crashes.
Make sure that you have proper cooling inside the case, preferably one fan that blows cool air
into the case and another fan that pushes the warm air out.
Your PC should have some room to breathe, don't cram it into a tight corner.
Check that the fans are not cover by dust.

Virus Protection Every time you download a file from the Internet, get a floppy from a friend,
bring a file home from work, you expose your PC to the risk of getting a virus.
Viruses can be very devastating on your PC, including corrupted files, deleted files and erased hard drives.
To protect yourself, you should install a professional virus checker, such as Norton Antivirus from Symantec.

Stay Current
If you are running old programs that were designed for Windows 3.x you should
see if there is a newer version available that was designed for Windows 95/98.
Also, about once a year you should make a list of all the hardware that you have installed on your PC,
such as video card, printer, sound card, etc. and visit the manufacturer's web site to see if there are
newer drivers available.

Keep it clean
The more programs you run, the higher your chances for crashes are.
Don't install programs without doing some research first.
If you don't use a program anymore, uninstall it.
If it is a beta version, it does not belong on a PC that has important data on it.
Be especially careful with little unknown or custom written programs that you download from the Internet.
It could contain a virus or could be written by a hobby programmer with good intentions but bad QA skills.

Third Party Utilities
Be careful with all those third party utilities out there, such as uninstaller,
diagnostic, optimization and other programs.
A lot of them are very intrusive on your system and cause more problems than they fix.
The only party benefiting from them is the manufacturer who rakes in your cash.
Windows 98 already comes with many diagnostic tools that make most of the third party utilities redundant.
The only two tools that don't come with Windows and that have proven to be invaluable for me are
Symantec's Norton Antivirus and Power Quest's Partition Magic 4.0.

Source : PC911

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