Computer crash insurance

I bought my first computer in 1978.  It’s hard to believe, but that was over 30 years ago.  From the very beginning of my experience with computers, there has always been the problem of computer crashes and lost data.  The data storage on my computer more than 3 decades ago was an audio cassette tape.  That was a very poor way of storing data and the data was frequently corrupted or lost.

Looking back, the advances in computer data storage are really mind-boggling.  My first hard drive was the size of a small printer and it had only 5 MB of storage.  Now I have a flash drive sitting on my desk that is the size of my thumb and it has 4 GB of storage.  But there is one problem that has never been completely resolved and that is data storage devices sometimes fail.

Everyone, who has spent a significant amount of time working with computers, has experienced the panic when you try to boot your computer and it won’t start.  I’ve had a few experiences where I’ve lost important data because a hard drive failed.  Today, I rely heavily on computer data storage for nearly all of my important information.  This includes handling finances, document storage, as well as the other everyday tasks such as e-mail.  I have a lot of computer data right now that I just can’t afford to lose.

If you have data that you cannot afford to lose, having a data backup system is essential.  The backup system I use is not hard to set up and I no longer worry about whether my computer will boot up when I start it.  Here is what I recommend for computer crash insurance.  You’ll need the following items.

Goodsync is a really good program for making backups of your data, such as documents, browser settings, bookmarks, favorites, e-mails, and even the way your computer desktop is arranged.  One of my USB hard drives is dedicated for use by Goodsync.  That hard drive is always connected, I have Goodsync set to automatically start at boot up and I have a job programmed for each segment of data that I want backed up on a continual basis. For each job that is set up in Goodsync, you can program how often the sync should be done.  This is useful if you only have a partial loss of data and you don’t need to restore an entire hard drive.

The other 2 USB hard drives are used on a rotating basis with the Acronis software.  Every evening before I shut down my computer for the day, I run Acronis to do a backup of my primary hard drive.  I use the settings for incremental backup and the backup is of the entire disk, not just a single partition.  The backup is set to do a complete backup every 7 days instead of the incremental backup and is also set to shutdown the computer once the backup has been completed.  So, when I’m done for the day, I start the backup and then turn my monitor off.  The computer shuts down on its own once the backup is completed.  The next morning when I start the computer, if it fails to boot, I have a snapshot of the hard drive from the day before.  I continue this way on one USB drive until the drive is nearly full.  Then I take that drive out of service and power up the second USB drive.  When the second drive is nearly full, I power up the first drive, erase the old backups, and start again saving new backups.  This system ensures that constantly changing data is protected throughout the day and there is a complete disk backup each day before the computer is shut down.

A few days ago, someone I know told me of a hard drive failure on their computer and the headache of getting the computer back to a usable condition.  It occurred to me that my primary hard drive in my computer was nearly 4 years old.  Although it was still working, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to put in a new primary drive as preventative maintenance.  Having my backup system made switching out the primary hard drive a snap.  Using Acronis to restore to the new hard drive took a couple of hours.  When it was finished, the computer booted as if nothing had changed.  This is inexpensive insurance if you have data that cannot be replaced.

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