By Brian Schwartz
Every hour of every day, somebody loses something; it can be of little importance, such as an e-mail or small game you downloaded off the Internet, or of larger importance, such as pictures or videos of your children or grandchildren.
Iâ€™m sure some of you at this point are thinking: â€œHow can I possibly lose something I put in a folder on my computer?â€ What I mean by lose is not just misplacing the files, but the destruction of the file when the drive you have the files stored on has a catastrophe like a seize-up or it simply stops working.
Of course, if this does happen, there are companies that can pick the data off the drive, for a price. That price usually starts at a four-digit number per file. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by just doing regular backups. There are a couple different ways of protecting yourself from losing files.
If you purchased your computer within the past 10 years, it probably came equipped with a CD or DVD burner of some type. Just about every computer has a different way of burning a CD or DVD, but the concept is the same.
Locate the files you would like to burn to a CD or DVD and place them in the queue of the program that will burn the CD or DVD. After you collect all the files you would like to burn, you simply place a blank CD or DVD in the drive and tell it to burn the CD or DVD. Depending on the amount of files you have in the queue, this process can take a minute to more than an hour.
A lot of anti-virus programs such as Symantec Norton and McAfee come with what they call an automatic backup solution. This is a very easy way to secure a copy of all your data.
The program will scan your hard drives for any personal data you have placed on the drive. It will then ask you to insert a CD or DVD (depending on what type of drive you have), and it will burn all the files for you. If it fills a disk, it will simply ask you to insert another one. The program will continue this process until it has successfully backed up all the files. You can tell the program to run backups on a certain schedule as well.
Both the manual and automatic backups are extremely effective to secure your data. However, in the event your home ever catches on fire or gets flooded, the disks of the backup you have sitting next to your computer will be useless when the fire or water gets to them. Thatâ€™s when itâ€™s smart to put the disks off-site, either at a neighborâ€™s house or in a lockbox at the bank.
Online or off-site backup
One of the easiest ways to backup your data is also the most secure and most effective solution. When you have online backup software on your computer, the program will scan your hard drives for any personal files you may have loaded onto the drives, just like an automatic backup solution. However, the end result is a little different. Instead of asking for a CD or DVD to burn to, the files are sent over the Internet to a secure server. This also is referred to as an off-site backup, since the backup is not stored in your home. This is the backup solution I use to keep my files safe.
There are a few software programs you can find on the Internet that do this. The one I have found most effective is called Mozy (www.mozy.com). In addition to backing up your files on a secure server, the files also are encrypted before they are sent to the server. This means the files are protected by a password you create and nobody at Mozy are able to read or view your files. The service is $4.95 per month per computer.
There is a free version of it you can try to see if you like it.
In the event of a catastrophe that destroys your computer, you can either call or go to Mozyâ€™s Web site to order backup DVDs
of your data.
Schwartz, a graduate of Cloverleaf High School and the Medina County Career Center, is a student at the University of Akron.