October 13, 2006
Dear CNET members,
It doesn't take an unlucky day like today (Friday the 13th) to have your hard drive take a nosedive and lose all your important files--as it could happen any day and at any moment. A few months back, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine about backing up files on our computers, and when he spoke of how he lost the first six months of photos of his firstborn to a corrupt hard drive, his voice cracked while he shook his head with a look of regret and disgust. I felt really bad for him. Today, he is meticulous about completely backing up his files, but it took an incident like this to get him to back up his data. So for those folks who blindly trust their computers to be reliable, wake up and smell the coffee! I don't want to have to hear your questions in this newsletter on how to recover important data from your corrupt hard drive. I urge those of you who are not backing up your data to start doing so today; don't wait till tomorrow. And if you don't have a clue on how to proceed, this week's topic is a perfect opportunity to get you started. If the answers don't fulfill your needs, discuss them in this week's discussion thread. To get this discussion started on how you can back up your data, I give you this week's winning answer by Wayne. There are many other great suggestions and multiple recommended methods of how to back up your data from our members, so read up and learn. If you have additional experience and advice for our members on backing data, please share it with us in the discussion so that we can all learn as a community! Thanks, and have a great weekend!
Member Question of the Week
Hi, CNET, I need to get serious about doing backups. I don't currently back up any of my data, mostly because I don't know where to start. My system has a 160GB HD, so I'm storing a lot of files. It would be awful to lose them, and I'd be pretty embarrassed as well. So where do I start? What's the best method and best practices? Which files need to be backed up, and which can be ignored? Are there some common pitfalls to avoid? I'm running Windows XP (SP2), and I have a DVD burner and USB ports. Thanks!
Natalie L. of Madison, Wisconsin
Hi, Natalie, I feel for you. I named my hard disk the Garage because it's chock-full of files I'll never use again, mainly because I've forgotten they're there.
When contemplating backup, there are two things to consider. First is the system files. Over time, some of these files will become corrupted, so it's good to have a pure backup to replace the bad file. (I not only include the operating system files here, but program files as well.) Second, there's your personal data.
Many programs will back up system files. I personally use Powerquest's data keeper. It's primarily designed to back up specified files automatically as I use them. This is particularly important to me as I'm a writer, and when I lost an entire book a few years ago, that was almost a year's worth of work down the drain. Better programs are out there that will automatically back up your system files, identifying what's important and what's not. Most major players, such as Symantec and McAfee, offer them.
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Hello, I have a project that's been brewing for a long time and am wondering if someone out there might have a similar one. I have tons of old vinyl records and tapes that I would like to convert into digital music--DVDs, CDs, and so on. I'd like to know if someone can give me pointers as to how to do it with the least cost. Please include choice of hardware, software, and other alternatives or options. My PC consists of a Intel P4 2.4GHZ, 1GB of RAM, and 80GB of disk space. I recently purchased an external DVD/CD burner to complement my system; my OS is Windows XP Pro. If anyone can give me helpful and constructive suggestions, it would be most appreciated. Thank you very much.
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