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This paper describes computer backup methods for the average user. On a corporate level, High Availability needs to be considered, also possible hot or cold site backups, as well as Virtual application and server images.
2. COMPUTER SYSTEM BACKUP2 Introduction Computers have become an important part of society, from a college student creating,editing and publishing a final report to hospitals that store a patients medical history. This datain whatever form it is stored, such as; word documents, music or medical records, needs to bekept safe and retrievable. There are three reasons why computer data backups are importanttoday: computer hardware failures, viruses and natural disasters, and the costs associated withtrying to recover lost data. It is critical to have a backup routine in place for personal files and aprocess to restore these back to the computer. Reasons to back up computer system data. One important reason to back up data is because of computer hardware failures. Data isstored on physical media, and for most computer systems today, this would be a hard drive. Eventhough modern hard drives have some built in monitoring, they are still susceptible to heat,physical or electrical shock. Failures can also result from normal usage or age of the hard drive.Robert L. Scheier of Computerworld magazine investigated a study conducted by CarnegieMellon University that indicated hard drive failure rates are much higher than makers estimate.He reported that Customers replace disk drives 15 times more often than drive vendorsestimate. This statistic may vary; there are differences between computer companies withhundreds of hard drives and a single user. The studies wont change how Tom Dugan, director oftechnical services at Recovery Networks, a Philadelphia-based business continuity servicesprovider, protects his data. If they told me it was 100,000 hours, Id still protect it the same way. 3. COMPUTER SYSTEM BACKUP 3If they told me if was 5 million hours Id still protect it the same way. I have to assume everydrive could fail. Scheier,(2007) Computerworld. It is not just computer hardware failures but computer viruses or malware, short formalicious software, can also cause data loss. The threat of being infected by a computer virus isone of the biggest fears among new computer users today. These invasive computer programsare designed to accomplish different tasks, from changing the homepage in a web browser,gaining access to personal information, or even destroying system data. Often, these programsare unwittingly distributed through shareware programs, email attachments, web content, orother programs where users share data. Normally, computer users can protect themselves againstcomputer viruses, malware, and other computer security threats by installing an antivirus or anti-malware protection program. Some of these are even available for personal use for free; twopopular programs are Malwarebytes (malwarebytes.org) and AVG Anti-Virus. Even withprotection measures in place, a computer can still become infected. Jonathan Richards,(2008) ofthe TheTimes Online reported that the number of computer viruses topped one million and thatthe amount of new malicious software identified increased by 468 per cent. The threat of natural disasters, such as; fires, floods, or tornados are another good reason toback up data regularly. Companies spend thousands of dollars to insure computer data is keptsafe, especially in areas known for these events to happen. Natural disasters are a threat to planfor, but a far are more common event to plan for, are power outages or power surges, these cancause the physical hard drive to failure. If a spark or smoke is observed and the computer willnot boot up after the power is restored, then it may have become a victim of a power surge.There are some protections that will help offset power loss. For example; purchasing a UPS oruninterruptible power supply, which is a battery backup that provides power to a device when theinput power from the utility company fails. The battery backup run time of most uninterruptible 4. COMPUTER SYSTEM BACKUP4power supplies is relatively short, depending on the battery rating and load. Also, consider theage of a UPS, Information Technology consultant Erik Eckel (2006) states; After a few years,batteries may continue to function but they likely wont continue providing the same levels ofservice. For example, a two-year-old battery may provide only 12 minutes of power versus 18when it was new. But this should still allow the computer time to shut down and save runningprograms. According to Gerry J (2009), of eWeekeurope, Human Error is also blamed for rising dataloss today; experts are blaming the rising number of human mistakes on the increasinglycomplex storage systems, as well as depleted resources in the current economic climate. Forexample, accidently deleting or overwriting files, restoring a hard drive to an earlier state withoutfirst making backups, misplacement of CDs, flash drives or other backup media are examples ofhuman error. Clearly, there are good reasons to backup data. What then are some data backupmethods in use today? Backup MethodsAccording to Ed Bott (2003), Microsoft Press Author and Expert Zone CommunityColumnist, backing up your essential files is neither difficult nor time-consuming. In fact, thewhole process can take as little as 10 minutes a week. Probably one of the most cost effectiveand easiest methods to save data files or music is to purchase a USB Flash drive, also known as apen drive, jump drive, or memory stick. These small portable devices can hold much moreinformation compared to floppy disks or even standard CD-R media. USB flash drives, like harddrives, are subject to hardware failures so keep copies of the backup data on both the computerand the USB memory up to date. Manually selecting folders or specific files on a computer and backing them to an externalsource such as a USB flash drive or USB hard drive is another method. Most user data on a 5. COMPUTER SYSTEM BACKUP5typical Microsoft Windows based computer is stored in the My documents or Librariesfolder, copying the contents from this folder to an external drive may be sufficient for theaverage user. There are software programs available which will automatically make daily,weekly or monthly backups of specified files or even create a snapshot image of the whole harddrive. If a complete image of the whole hard drive is selected, then a larger capacity storagedevice should be used. As mentioned, a USB hard drive would be a good choice, Hard drivestorage companies like Western Digital or Seagate sell external USB hard drives ranging from500GB (Gigabytes) up to 2TB (Terabytes), which is more than enough storage space for thetypical computer user. One benefit to imaging the whole hard drive is that in case of a completefailure, the operating system and all the programs and data can be restored to the exact way theywere before the failure. Windows or MAC operating systems have built in utilities for this, butthese are somewhat limited. According to TopTenREVIEWS (2011); You need backup softwarethat is reliable and simple to use or you wont use it. Feature Set, Ease of Use, Security, Backupand Restore and Help Documentation are important criteria to look for in deciding what softwareto choose. Another option available is online backup of personal data. This requires a connection tothe internet to allow the files to be uploaded and, in most cases, a yearly or monthly fee, whichvaries depending on the size of the storage required. A benefit to having an online backupsolution is that the files can be available from any computer a user is working from. Forexample, Dropbox is an easy to use online backup/file sharing program that has becomepopular and even works with mobile devices.Restoring Data With a backup schedule and the selected method in place, recovering the backed upinformation can be a straightforward procedure. As mentioned, most Microsoft and MAC 6. COMPUTER SYSTEM BACKUP6operating systems have built-in back up programs. An interesting feature of all MicrosoftWindows 7 operating systems is that of recovering folders or files that have been accidentlydeleted using a service called Shadow Copy. From time to time Windows will make a copy orsnapshot of the files and folders on a computer. To go back to a prior version of a file ordocument, one would simply right-click on the file and select Restore previous versions. ThisShadow Copy service is part of the Windows System Restore feature. ("Restore previousversions," 2010) Online backup solutions allow a user to recover files as simply as they were backed up.Most backup solutions can be configured to automatically synchronize a computer with thestorage, with this in mind, understanding the backup software interface is important in selectingthe appropriate settings, refer to the program documentation for help. If a computer experiences a hard drive failure with critical files still on the drive, datarecovery software or services are available to recover that data. It is recommended that acomputer user be somewhat knowledgeable with software before deciding to purchase and usedata recovery utilities for themselves. According to Lison Joseph, contributor at Free-backup.info (2011), some simple things to be kept in mind are to stop using the problem harddisk or storage media from which you want to recover data, Every time you start a system withthe hard disk from which you want to recover data the operating system writes and over-writesdata to the hard disk, this makes recovery more difficult. Also do not load the recovery softwareon the hard drive that needs to be recovered, instead remove the hard drive from the computerand attach it to another computer with the recovery software. Another option is to choose a service which specializes in the recovery of data. This is amore expensive option and can range from $300 to $3000, ("Data recovery") depending onnature of the hard drive failure. Some services will evaluate the hard drive for free and quote a 7. COMPUTER SYSTEM BACKUP 7price to restore or recover that data. It is important to shop around and find out the costs up frontif possible. A local computer shop may be able to recover data as well. There are good reasons why computer backups need to be done on a regular basis.Choosing a backup method that fits a users situation is important as well. The old saying Anounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. (Franklin) fittingly applies to computer usagetoday. Indeed the inevitable computer crash will happen and when that does, with a good backupplan in place, one can be up and running in no time. 8. COMPUTER SYSTEM BACKUP 8ReferencesBott, E. (2003, July 14). Windows xp backup made easy. Retrieved fromhttp://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/setup/learnmore/bott_03july14.mspxData backup software review keep system crashes from taking your important files . (n.d.).Retrieved from http://data-backup-software-review.toptenreviews.com/Data recovery . (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.diskdoctors.com/data-recovery.aspEckel, E. (2006, June 19). 10 things you should know about deploying a ups. Retrieved fromhttp://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-things-you-should-know-about-deploying-a -ups/6085460Gerry J. (2009, February 02). Inside mobile: backup and recovery-a personal story. Retrievedfrom http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/INSIDE-MOBILE-Backup-and-RecoveryA-Personal-Story/Lison, J. (n.d.). Dos and donts in data recovery . Retrieved from http://free-backup.info/dos-and-donts-in-data-recovery.htmlRichards, J. (2008, April 10). Number of computer viruses tops one million. Retrieved fromhttp://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article3721556.eceRestore previous versions of files in every edition of windows 7. (2010, February 22). Retrieved from http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/11130/restore-previous-versions-of-files-in- every-edition-of-windows-7/Scheier, R. (2007, March 2). Study: hard drive failure rates much higher than makers estimate. Retrieved fromhttp://www.pcworld.com/article/129558/study_hard_drive_failure_rates_much_higher_than_makers_