Backing Up Your PC or Files
Your PC is not only a powerful tool but also acts as a safe for your files, programs, emails, and other stored information. Unlike a traditional lock-up safe your PC is not fire proof, and it can be corrupted by something as simple as a power surge (during an electrical storm or a power outage), a mechanical failure of the hardware (the physical components of your machine), or a virus infection of the software (programs).
It is therefore very important to not only safe guard the files, and information that you store in your computer, but also the operating system itself. The safe guarding process is called Backing Up. The operating system is the software that allows you to retrieve the information saved on your PC. If your operating system is corrupted you won’t be able to access your files and programs without either reloading or repairing it.
When you Back Up you take a copy of the information on your machine which you can store separately from your PC. Then if a corruption occurs you can take the Back Up Copy and reload it over the top of corrupted information on your computer.
There are a number of different ways to Back Up your system
Floppy Disks backups are one of the most cost effective methods of backing up. A standard floppy disk costs around 80 cents* each and almost all PCs come with an inbuilt floppy drive (the hardware that reads floppy disks). A floppy will hold 1.4 megabytes of information but you can obtain very cheap programs which will allow you to compress large amounts of information which enable you to back up programs, and operating systems, as well as files on floppy. I will explain the two of the most accessible programs PKZIP® and WINZIP® in next month's column.
ZipDrive is a type of Brand of backup system. ZipDrives are not standard components in most PC and cost around $200.00* to purchase. The ZipDrive floppies are high capacity floppy disks which don’t require separate software to compress your information. Each one costs around $25.00* but can be reused.
CD Back Ups are the most permanent back ups but CD Write Drives (the hardware required to write CDs) are quite expensive, retailing at around $500.00* each. The writable CDs that can only be used once cost around $4.00*, reusable CD's cost around $9.00* each. Both types of CD hold huge amounts of information.
Emailing Files offsite really only shares the risk and Printing Out just gives you a personal copy. You will have to retype the information into your PC when it is fixed. If you don’t own a computer, but use someone else’s machine, you should still take responsibility for backup your own files.
*costs are approximate guidelines only current at Aug 2000