Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A Good Guy Sings The Blues

Loyal friends of this site will tell you that I have a couple of “pet” topics which I return to, and they will remember that once a month, like clockwork, I used to run an article on the Windows disk cleanup and defrag tools, (such as, Revitalize Your PC With Windows’ Utilities*) and say that this is the proper way to “speed up your PC” and make it run like it did when it was new.

Sad Also once a month – like clockwork – I would polish up and re-post some article describing how many fewer unpleasant conversations I would have as a computer tech (my real job) if, and I repeat, IF the person had made a backup copy of their files.

Once a month, I would remind people that perfectly good hard drives will occasionally up and die for no apparent reason.

Once a month, I would remind people that some of the “infections” they can get hit with are now so nasty that the only trustworthy “cure” for them is to erase the hard disk and start fresh (called a “reformat”) which is much less of a big deal when you have a clean backup copy of your stuff.

But about six months ago, or so, I gave up that monthly reminding.

Those articles didn’t get reads – real ratings bombs, they were – and… well, let me put it this way: about a year ago I mentioned that in all the while I’ve been running Aplus Computer Aid, only one client had answered “yes” when I asked if they had a backup. (I’m up to three now.. three!)

Once a month, like clockwork, I used to ask people if they didn’t have irreplaceable photographs, music they had paid for, tax records, etc., on their machines, and was that their only copy? Hard disks malfunction and die, you know!

Sometimes, I think I managed to write so convincingly that at least two readers said to themselves, “he’s right. I really need to burn some CD’s”. But did they actually ever get around to it? I don’t know. I wouldn’t bet on it.

So, folks, what about it. Have you made a backup copy of your hard disk in the last .. oh.. say, two weeks? Two months?
Yeah. I know. There aren’t enough hours in the day…

Maybe these articles will help.
* How To Use Windows Backup Tool
* Enable ShadowCopy On Home Editions / XP
* Save Thousands With a Free Tool (You Already Have)
* Backup, Backup, Backup With Free DriveImage XML

Because, perfectly good hard drives will occasionally up and die for no apparent reason, and you may surf to the wrong site and have to do a reformat.

Note: alert readers will notice that I missed posting yesterday. That was because I was busy with an “emergency call” for help. Can you guess? Yup. Vital files. Hard drive failure. I mean.. mission critical files. In the end, all I was able to do was refer the client to a data recovery service, which would disassemble their drive inside a clean room and use sophisticated and expensive equipment to try to recover the 1’s and 0’s… which you can guess doesn’t come cheaply. My guess is they are looking at very close to $1,000.. if not more.

Last week, I bought a 50 pack of blank CD’s for $4.99.

Automatic “online backup” services, like Mozy or Carbonite are quite reasonable too… under $100/year.

If you have read this far, thank you. As a reward, I ask you – have you made a backup copy of your files in the last .. oh.. say, two weeks? Wouldn’t you feel better knowing there’s a copy somewhere should your computer die, or get stolen? Yes! You would! Get busy!

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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April 24, 2010 - Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, how to, PC, security, tech


  1. Tech Paul,

    I couldn’t agree more. Sure,there’s effort involved in learning how to protect user data by developing and implementing a backup plan.

    But without a plan, critical data becomes a hostage to fortune. A user’s Hard Drive might be damaged by malware – it might not. Or, the Hard Drive might fail – it might not.

    But why users take the risk is beyond me. At a minimum, users need to backup irreplaceable data – the type of data you mention in your article.



    Comment by Bill Mullins | April 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Bill,
      This person knew, but failed to act, and literally banged their head on the table and muttered “I meant to.. I really meant to..” (edited for family viewing) and to a large degree my heart went out to him.
      But come on: how hard is it to drag a file to your thumb drive (or CD burner) once in a while?

      I am delighted that you added your considerable voice in support of this very important “tech topic”. Thank you.

      Folks, Mr. Mullins’ website was the very first site I posted to my “Blogroll” and I consider it one of the premier informational/educational destinations on the Internet today. 2,000,000 other folks have visited – have you? Visit Bill Mullins Weblog – Tech Thoughts.


      Comment by techpaul | April 24, 2010 | Reply

  2. TechPaul and Bill,

    Somehow we need to find a way to educate people about the importance of back up data that is important or critical to them or their organization. I have actually seen people cry because their data was gone. Great Article; Great Reminder!



    Comment by Ramblinrick | April 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Rick,
      I have too, and I don’t like it. I don’t like being the doctor who has to tell the patient the bad, bad news. When they’re done crying, I get to say, “Mr. and Mrs. Jones… a CD costs 10 cents.. why didn’t you prevent this catastrophe?”
      A hard lesson to learn.

      Part of it is human nature. We skip through life. Until we slip on a banana peel and fall and hurt our back. Then we keep an eye out for banana peels on the sidewalk.

      Whether it is our modern age of a 24-hour news cycle, Cable News, too many news sources all competing for ratings by being more and more sensational, or simple “information overload”, .. or the fact that everything we see and hear is scary/negative — I don’t know. But I do know that kind, considered, important warnings (like, “look both ways before crossing the street!”) get ignored… and seem to alienate people. (I told myself I would not write another backup article…)
      They want happy. They want flash and whiz bang. They get enough nagging at home.

      One of the online backup services has as their ‘catch phrase’, “It’s not just your computer, it’s your life”. And if that’s not already true, it’s becoming truer everyday.


      Comment by techpaul | April 25, 2010 | Reply

  3. Try reading this article for more online backup services:


    Comment by Adrian | April 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Adrian,
      I don’t really agree with all the writer says, but …

      I have not written about backups in a while – and online backup services for even longer – as such articles actually seem to turn people away. (My numbers go down, big time.) But when I did, I referred readers to more authoritative reviews:

      PC World magazine has two comparison charts of online storage providers: read this first, (reviews 17 providers) then click here, (for 6 more) which will give you their number one pick(s). Then take a look at Tom’s Hardware discussion/article (click here) and, may I suggest, skipping ahead to the Conclusion will give you their results.
      * My friend Mike, over on My Tech Talk, has also written about his experiences with online storage.
      * And Bill Mullins discusses Mozy here.

      [update: PCMag has just published a new article with updated reviews. They say say a new service, SOS, has ursurped the throne from Mozy. To read this updated review, click here. (I still suggest reading the others, as well, though.)]


      Comment by techpaul | April 25, 2010 | Reply

  4. I’m independent data recovery specialist and I must say this post gives quite nice piece of information.


    Comment by John M. | April 26, 2010 | Reply

  5. Don’t forget that your backup is only as good as your restore. You should be testing your backups monthly. Check out these stats on data loss.


    Comment by Jason Rorie | April 26, 2010 | Reply

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