[copperpress-advertserve-ad-reload zone="3"]
 February 1, 1996

Forgetting backup system can devastate a business

What will happen if your computer is stolen tonight? Or if a lightning strike fried it, or a fire totally destroyed it?

Could you survive the loss? Not the loss of the computer itself, the loss of the information on the hard drive. You can always replace hardware. Replacing the data is not so easy. Paradoxically, most businesses insure the cheap part of the computer – the computer itself – but not the most valuable part of the computer – the data inside. How can you insure the data? By backing it up onto tape. Yet most businesses, particularly small businesses and people who work for themselves, rarely or never back up the information in their computers. This strikes me as strange. Computers are relatively cheap; a small-business computer can cost as little as $1,500. Yet the data that ends up on the
computer may have taken thousands of hours to produce -and take thousands more to replace. That’s thousands of hours at $15 an hour, $50 an hour,
$100 an hour or more. Imagine the loss to a small business that keeps all of its accounting and customer data on a computer that’s stolen or destroyed. Worse, maybe the
company even creates much of its product on that computer; perhaps it designs circuit boards or office buildings, or publishes books or periodicals. Perhaps it’s in the business of doing other companies’ accounts or payroll. The loss of a single computer could be devastating. I’ve never seen a computer ad showing computers with back-up tape drives as standard features, and I’ve never been asked if I wanted a tape drive
when buying a computer. It seems a little irresponsible of computer manufacturers to let business buyers walk away without some form of backup
system, rather like selling a car without seat belts. It’s all left to the purchaser to figure out, and in many cases they never do. Small businesses often have little computer expertise, and it may never occur to the owners and managers that they should be protecting their
hard-disk data – until it’s gone, of course. What should you do, then? Run, don’t walk, to your local computer store and buy a tape drive. You can find them for around $150 to $250,
depending on the hard drive you want to back up, and most stores will install them for a small fee. Then, start doing backups right away. Once a week or so do a complete backup of everything on your hard disk. That’ll take a while, so you’ll want
to do it overnight. When the backup’s finished, take the tape home with you, or to a safe-deposit box; don’t leave it with the computer. After all, if
there’s a fire, you’ll still lose all your data if the tape’s in the same building. Now, schedule daily backups for the end of each day. Most backup programs have some kind of scheduling system that automatically starts the
backup at the time you assign. This is important, because the easier it is to do backups, the more likely you are to do them. Backing up data is like buying insurance, except that you have to buy the insurance every day. Automatically scheduling backups makes it easier to
stomach. You won’t do a full backup every day, though. You’ll do a differential or incremental backup. A differential backup places on the tape a copy of every
file that has been changed or created since the last time you did a full backup. The incremental backup copies each file that has been changed or created since the last incremental backup. So the incremental backup system provides
a series of small backups containing each day’s changes and additions, while the differential backup provides a series of backups, each containing all
changes and additions, not just a single day’s. You may wish to remove this tape from the premises each day, too, so you limit the loss in the event of disaster. If you are a Windows 95 user, you may find it difficult to get a good backup program. Your tape drive will come with a program (make sure it comes
with a Windows 95 version; some drives on the shelves may not), but they’re currently not very good. They’ll be OK for basic backups but may not have the features that advanced users are used to. Windows 3.1 backup
programs are, in general, much better. The backup program built into Windows 95 is awful, so I don’t use it. I have a Colorado Memory Systems tape drive, so I currently use their
program. But it won’t let me do differential backups (it only does incrementals), won’t let me backup or restore just the Windows 95 Registry files, makes it
difficult to exclude specific files from the backup, and to top it all off, wastes 1.5 megabytes of memory to run the schedule program. I’ve just tried Arcada backup, but it’s not much better. While it will let me do differential backups, it doesn’t make it much easier to exclude files, and
it wastes 2.74 megabytes of memory to schedule backups. But if you don’t schedule a backup, and start it manually, it won’t do a true unattended
backup; if it finds that a file is in use by a program, it halts and asks what it should do – and, if necessary, waits until I come in the next morning! ARCSolo is next on my list to try; it should be available any day now. Still, don’t let these shortcomings stop you getting a tape drive. Most users won’t care about these details anyway. All that counts is that you get that
data onto a tape and out of your office, as soon as possible. Peter Kent is a Colorado-based writer specializing in computers. He’s the author of “Using Microsoft Network” (Que) and “Using Netscape 2.” Kent
can be reached at pkent@labpress.com.

What will happen if your computer is stolen tonight? Or if a lightning strike fried it, or a fire totally destroyed it?

Could you survive the loss? Not the loss of the computer itself, the loss of the information on the hard drive. You can always replace hardware. Replacing the data is not so easy. Paradoxically, most businesses insure the cheap part of the computer – the computer itself – but not the most valuable part of …

[copperpress-advertserve-ad-reload zone="3"]

Related Content

[copperpress-advertserve-ad-interstitial zone="30"]