Friday, July 28, 2006


You aren’t sure whether you should be doing backups?

You should.

A computer is the metal/plastic device itself PLUS the data recorded on the hard drives.

If you are responsible for a computer then you are responsible for both the box AND the data content.

If you think that you aren’t responsible, then I challenge you, right now, to reformat the hard drive, as if you’ve just had the computer stolen, and sit back and wait for the recovery process to start.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

All I Need To Do

I appear to be already doing all I need to do. If the computer
was somehow rendered inaccessible, all I'd miss are my files, which,
as I said before, I backup weekly onto my CD-RW.

Aye! There’s the rub.

The world is full of people who (a) don’t need to backup until it is too late or (b) backup what they believe is all their essential data, until the time they realise that they didn’t quite get it all.

When you think about it, the only way to be certain that you have everything you need, is to backup everything. No other technique can guarantee to you that you have got The Lot.

Worse. While today you may think you have it all, there are updates to Windows and other software coming down the pipe that may well start hoarding your data elsewhere.

To my mind there is no good substitute for a total hard drive backup.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


The DOS command XCOPY can give you an idea of what has not been backed up on your system. I use XCOPY to make my backups, but I call XCOPY from within a batch file (later!)

I have posted a short essay at

Running the example commands as shown won't make any changes to your hard drive, but they will start to give you an idea of what might need to be backed up.

Sunday, July 16, 2006



Why not?

It is an automatic procedure that runs while you are browsing the online newspapers or reading your mail.

Let it grab everything.

After all, what have you got to lose?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Factory Settings

Me: By The Way, I'm intrigued. Why does restoring Windows make you lose your data? Never happened to me.

Him: Well, some things I would never have believed would happen to me either.... but they have done, they do.... and we learn to live with them, I guess. You never had a PC crash to the point you had to revert to 'factory settings' - good on yer!.

Me: Sure, but that's not the hard drive. The data is always perfectly safe on the hard drive.

People panic and re-format or FDisk or similar. When the PC has to revert to factory settings, it is the PC that is reverting (usually people play around with the BIOS), and even if in the BIOS settings one changes the description of the hard drive, that still doesn't change the hard drive.

I can twiddle BIOS to my heart's content with NO hard drives physically present in the machine. The hard drive can, after all, be pulled out of the machine and a different one substituted. I do it all the time. I have two hard drives literally dangling from cables as we speak.

Reformatting the hard drive after "Factory Settings" is rather like people trading in the old car because it ran out of petrol, or one of the tyres went flat.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Removable device

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The important thing about a backup is that the backup device is not held on, in, at, or near the computer system.

If your back device is a second hard drive bolted into your computer, when your computer is stolen, catches fire, is trashed by a virus or befalls any similar misfortune, your backup drive goes with it.

A removable device is a backup. An internal device is not a backup.

If you are paranoid and live near an airport, you'll store your backups a mile or so away. "I can survive a "plane crash". Otherwise you'll keep your backup in a separate room. Why? Because the world is full of idiots like me who react by reaching for the backup and repeating the same idiotic action that got my main data into trouble in the first place. Keeping the backup in a separate room gives me a few extra seconds to contemplate what I'm about to do.

I have always been served well by sitting down and thinking before restoring files.

If you are backing up to a removable device and storing that device away from your computer, that's a good start.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

You think?

So you think that you are adequately protected by your current backup system?

It doesn’t matter whether you believe that your CDs, memory key or floppy disks, online backup or whatever method is valid.

I challenge you to simulate a crash by reformatting your hard drive and instituting your recovery.

Or else simulate the theft of your computer system by reformatting your hard drive and instituting your recovery. Of course you’ll be side-stepping the delay incurred while you buy a new system, but it is effectively the same thing.

What? You aren’t prepared to rise to the challenge?

Either you aren’t fully confident of your backup and recovery methods,. Or you already know that your recovery would be just too expensive, time-consuming and not entirely foolproof. In which case it isn’t a viable backup and recovery system, is it?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Your Corporate Motto

"A company is known by the data it keeps".

You think not?

Sadly, there’s no effective way to convince you of this.

Most companies that lose their data disappear from the business world, leaving no trace. They are no longer around to be polled. Sad.

When you lose your data you lose your client names and addresses, history, receivables, payables, state of your finances, emails from new prospects.

You lose everything that you know that is of real value to you.

If you lose your payroll and benefits data you’ll lose your employees and staff, or at least you’ll lose their confidence.