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Sep 19

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Protecting Your Electronic Personal Data

Disaster RecoveryIt’s hard to believe but my first computer relied on a cassette tape drive to store programs and data. I considered it a luxury, when I upgraded to a floppy drive a few months later. Four years after that, I moved to a PC with a 10MB hard drive. The data storage requirements were minimal, so backing up data to floppy disks was more than sufficient. Over time, I used a variety of technologies for securing the data generated at home. I used the IOmega ZIP and Jazz drives for a time. Like others, eventually I found myself with a collection of cartridges but no drives to use them with as the technology fell victim to new backup technologies. I also used CD and DVD for backing data.

Today, our home computers serve as a storage platform for more critical data because we use our computers for home banking, completing taxes, managing investments accounts and the like. We also store family history like digital pictures and home movies. A couple of years ago, I purchased a single drive Western Digital 1TB MyBook World to store our family photos and movies. When I installed the device, I began to think about the risk of a single drive unit and about backups of backups. I looked at redundant drives, but at the time the cost was more than I wanted to invest. Well, a few days ago I noticed that my operating system was losing the mapping to the MyBook. Yesterday, I realized that the unit is failing when operating for a while and turning the unit off to cool would restore functionality when powered back on. So I began the process of moving data to another location temporarily while I considered my options.

After reading a few reviews and comments of others, I settled on the Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440. The device contains 4, 1TB drives and supports a variety of RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) configurations. RAID provides the ability to replicate data across multiple disks , therefore reducing the possibility of losing data due to the unlikelihood that two disks would fail at the same time. The BlackArmor supports hot swapping drives, so when a disk fails I can replace the drive without shutting down the unit. When the new disk is inserted, the RAID system rebuilds the data on the new drive using the replicated data from the other drives.

I have managed to avoid any loss of critical data during my computing experience spanning nearly 30 years, but I have heard horror stories from friends. As in the case with the MyBook, a simple flip of a coin may have resulted in non-recoverable loss of data and a horror story of my own. When the NAS arrives and gets installed, I’ll be able to rest a little easier knowing that the ever increasing amount data in our household is safe for a little while longer.

I would love to hear your story about how you manage computer data in your home and any horror stories you have to share because data was not backed up.

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