Backup; Losing Data Stored on Your Notebook
Computer is One of the Perils of Modern Life -
but There's Nothing Hard About Reducing the Risk
SOMETIMES, those who need to back up their data the most,
do it the least.
That's often the case with notebook computer users.
The fact is, notebooks are especially vulnerable to data
Not only can notebook hard drives fail just like those in
desktop computers, but notebooks carry the obvious added risk of being transported -- and
One untimely fall from a stool on to a wooden floor can
spell the end of your notebook -- and its data.
The solution is obvious: Don't take your notebook's data
Until recently, though, the process of backing up your
notebook computer was cumbersome, if it was even possible.
Owners of stand-alone notebooks, those not attached to
networks, usually just backed up central data on to floppy discs or writable CDs.
Of course, that's not a great solution, since if your hard
drive goes down, you're faced with problems or even days of restoration work to retrieve
your operating system, applications and data.
But things have changed.
Several backup solutions now make backing up notebook
computers a snap.
Most of the solutions are not without some cost, but the
price of backing up your notebook is easily justified if you think about how much your
data is worth.
Get an External Hard Drive
One of the best and easiest solutions for backing up a
notebook is to buy one of the USB or FireWire-enabled external hard drives.
These days, you'll find external hard drives -- which come
in their own enclosure, ready to go -- in the 80 gigabyte (GB) range. Eight gigabytes is
more than enough to back up any notebook on the market.
USB or FireWire hard drives are simple to use. You just
plug them into unavailable USB or FireWire ports on the back of your notebook, and the
drive should instantly be recognized by your operating system.
Windows 2000 and Windows XP are especially easily
configured with external hard drives.
For notebook computers, you'll probably want to steer
towards a USB external hard drive, since few notebooks today come standard with FireWire
Once your hard drive is hooked up, you can simply run
Microsoft Backup, which comes standard with every version of Windows. It's found in your
Start menu under Programs, Accessories, System Tools.
PC Card Hard Drives
A more elegant, if more expensive solution is to purchase
one of the new PCMCIA PC card hard drives designed specifically to back up notebook PCs.
These credit-card size hard drives are enclosed in a
standard PCMCIA device that fits into your notebook's PCMCIA slot. Every notebook computer
today has such a slot.
Usually, the capacity of these hard drives is sufficient to
back up all of the data that most people store. Today, the capacity of these cards
typically tops out at around 80 GB.
Still, that's more than enough to back up most people's
essential data, and many users could back up their entire hard drive on these cards.
There are many PC card hard drive models on the market.
If you spend any time with your notebook computer connected
to a network, take 10 minutes to devise a backup strategy.
Securing your notebook's data by backing up to another
machine to which you're connected is easy.
You can use any backup program for the job, including
Or you can simply copy the data using a straight
copy-and-paste operation with Windows Explorer.
DVD or CDs
Rewritable DVDs or CDs can of course be used to back up any
data, but their capacities are small and their performance is slow.
Still, they're better than nothing.
Although they probably won't be able to hold your entire
hard drive's worth of data, backing up essential files on a daily or weekly basis can be
done with rewritable DVDs or CDs.
By far the most carefree backup solutions for notebooks
today are the PC card systems. Some of these, such as the CMS Automatic Backup System
(http://www.cmsproducts. com), don't even require you to use backup software -- it's built
right into the device.
You just pop in the drive and a mirror image is taken of
your hard drive, ready to be restored later.
If you want to take a more manual route, though, you'll
need to decide on which backup software to use.
While Microsoft Backup is free, it will not allow you to
schedule unattended backups. For that, you'll need a more robust program.
A program such as Best Backup
(http://www.datalandsoftware.com/bestbackup/index.html) is available as shareware, and
costs just $US 10. A bit more feature-laden is WinBackup, available for $US 39 (download a review copy).
Copyright 2003 Nationwide News Pty
Limited Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia) November 8, 2003 Saturday, BYLINE: Jay