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Tips & Tricks - Make sure your PC is crash resistant
by Mario A. Williams III

The last thing a small business owner needs is computer trouble, especially during peak business hours (or season).  Here is a scenario a colleague of mine ran into for a small retail business during the holiday season. 

While closing out of business, she heard a clicking sound, but didnít think much of it. The next morning while starting the PC, the computer would not start up.  She raced the computer to my home office, Saturday evening,   where I quickly diagnosed a hard-drive crash.  Well, I couldnít obtain an inexpensive replacement so I went to one of those electronic outlets.

To make a long story short, after purchasing a replacement, her repair bill topped $300 and we still couldnít retrieve her data.  Iíve been in the computer industry for many years, Iíve come to understand that three things are guaranteed: death, taxes and a hard-drive failure.  With that in mind, hereís four ways not to make the same mistake:

  • Develop a strategy. 
    First, determine what information you can't afford to lose. For most small businesses, that's almost everything.  At the least, you'll want to make regular copies of your accounting files.  If you don't have a lot of daily transactions, then back up your information once a week.  It's important to make it a habit.

  • Tools of the Trade
    Until recently, most people backed up information by copying important files to a floppy disk.  These days, there are faster, more reliable methods.  One of the best inexpensive approaches is to backup your data to a compact disk.  For this, you'll need a CD-Rewritable (CD-RW) drive, the same device people use to "burn" CDs of new tunes from the internet.  These disk store as much as 700 megabytes of data, far more than a floppy disk will hold and plenty to store one person's files and e-mail.  If you're running a business with three or more workstations, it will be more efficient to use a drive that stores data on tape rather than on CD.
    Whatever hardware you choose, make sure you use software that allows you to schedule automatic backups at regular intervals and store you backups away from the office - ideally someplace easily accessible and work-ready.
    NOTE:  Stay tune for
    next issue for an article on Disaster Recovery...

  • Resist the Surge
    To supplement your backup strategy, make sure you're protected from on the biggest threats to computer data - power surges.  They're often caused by lightning, which can send damaging high voltage screaming through power, cable, or digital subscriber lines (DSL) into your computer.  If you're hit, don't expect that $7 power strip to totally protect you.  You'll need to purchase a business-grade power and data line surge suppressor, available at most office-supply stores for about $30.

  • Safe or Sorry
    If you have no backups and your computer is fried by a power spike, there's no need to worry about your online backing transactions, however.  Like all banks, they keep their own backup records of your activity.  But you can spare yourself the unnecessary computer-related angst when it comes to your own materials - it's easy enough to defend your data.

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NOTE: None of these suggestions and/or product names where endorsed by the manufacturer listed above. The opinion expressed here is an independent suggestion to handling the above mentioned question.

 
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