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Back Up to Move Ahead - Saving Your Computer's Data (and Your Sanity)

Back Up to Move Ahead - Saving Your Computer's Data (and Your Sanity)

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a 2002 survey by the International Data Group (IDG), 66% of American households own a personal computer. Ask the members of these household how many regularly back up their computers, and chances are you will receive a response riddled with confusion, panic, or frustration.

"You're not alone if you are not backing up data on a regular basis," says David Dulany, a Doctor of Business Administration student concentrating in Information Technology at Argosy University/Schaumburg in Illinois. "The good news is that today it is easier and cheaper than ever to make reliable back ups of your data. The bad news is that the consequences of not backing up can range from inconvenience to loss of business and real dollar costs."

Here, Dulany gives the reasons and how-to's for backing up one's computer data, to make it a painless procedure for the weary and the wired.

Why You Should Back Up

"There are many things that can happen to your computer files," says Dulany. "Natural disasters such as fires and computer thefts occur daily. Mechanical or hard drive failures can happen, even in new machines. Electrical blackouts and brownouts can spark a computer catastrophe and cause permanent damage if the machine is not properly protected from power surges."

Dr. Harriet Kandelman, dean of Argosy University/Schaumburg's School of Business, says, "Computer back-up should be part of disaster planning. Over one-half of lost data is never recovered. Only the foolish think data loss won't happen to them. Lost data can be lost forever; backing up your computer is a rational, proactive move."

Viruses and other mal-ware spread throughout the world and can wreck havoc on a computer. Even with one's best intention to filter junk mail and to avoid opening attachments from unknown sources, computer viruses and worms can seep into the machine's circuitry and delete files in a snap.

"Even humans make mistakes and accidentally erase files," says Dulany. "Computers have become more user-friendly over the past decade, but just like with any other machine, human error -- from accidentally pushing the 'delete' key to forgetting to save work -- is inevitable."

What to Save

"Many people think they have to back up everything that is on their computer. While this is certainly possible, it is far more efficient and cost effective to back up just the data files created with that software," explains Dulany.

It is far easier to back up just documents that one creates, rather than the program itself. Some business software, like accounting packages, even include their own back up routines -- check software manuals for details.

If a computer and software is lost to fire or other disaster, one can always buy new copies of the software -- it's the data created that is difficult or often impossible to replace. Concentrate on your word processing documents (for example, Microsoft Word), Excel spreadsheets, digital photos, and legally-downloaded music files.

Configuring a Plan

"When I discuss this topic, people often conjure up images of spending hours in front of a computer system, feeding it dozens of floppy diskettes or expensive computer tapes," says Dulany. "The reality is that there are very affordable and simple ways to back up data."

External hard drives that connect through the computer's Universal Serial Bus (USB) port install in seconds, are often priced under $200, and can be found up to 300 gigabytes in size. These are extremely portable and are even appropriate for some businesses since they can be used to back up multiple machines.

A growing trend for both business and personal computer users is to back up files via the Web to providers that specialize in the ultimate off-site solution. There are many providers and options to choose from with this attractive service, with virtually no hardware or software to worry about. And the cost usually involves just a monthly fee.

USB flash devices are small enough to fit in a pocket and are affordable enough to own several. These devices offer digital mobility (one can plug in the device with his or her data on any computer) and can be found in sizes up to 2 gigabytes.

The most economical way to back up data is to use writeable and readable CDs -- the "floppy disk" of the new millennium. Most CDs can hold up to 700 megabytes of data. Burning the data to CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs is a cost- effective way to achieve those irreplaceable digital family photographs and even that great American novel that is in progress on your home personal computer," says Dulany.

At the end of the day, computer owners may never have complete control over their machines. But getting into the routine of regularly backing up computer files is one step in the right direction -- in saving data, time, and even one's sanity.

Argosy University/Schaumburg

CONTACT: Mark C. Toth, public relations specialist, +1-412-995-7263, or
[email protected], or Jacquelyn P. Muller, assistant vice president for public
relations, +1-412-995-7262, or [email protected] , both for Argosy University

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