Article: Backing Up Your Stuff Part 1: The Problem

by Richard Lowe

I don't know about your, but I depend upon my computer system daily to help
me survive and prosper. I keep everything there:

My daily journals
My writing
Letters and memos
Documents for personal and work issues
My photo album (over 10,000 photos)
Graphics art that I've produced

In addition, if you are anything like me, over the years you've downloaded
thousands of different things off the internet. You may also have installed
some files from CDs and floppy disks, as well as receiving numerous files
via email. Some of these downloads include such wondrous things as:

Paint Shop Pro tubes, brushes
Photoshop filters
desktop themes
outlook stationary
ICQ skins and sounds
Innumerable other things

In fact, this is one of the activities that makes the internet so
enjoyable being able to download and install new features, plugins and
cool stuff as often as you can.

These files tend to take up massive amounts of space on your hard drives. On
my system, my outlook stationary alone requires over 150 megabytes, my
desktop themes are getting close to a gigabyte and I have over 200 megabytes
of Paint Shop Pro tubes.

This phenomenon is made even worse because most people (myself included)
never throw anything away. I have kept just about everything that I've ever
put on my computer, until today I have over 100 gigabytes of lord knows

Add to that yet another issue: many of us store files on remote systems.
Many people use their free hosts editing tools to create and modify their
web site files directly on the internet. The files are never downloaded to
their author's hard drive. For example, I receive at least a couple of
emails each week from someone asking how they back up the files on Geocities
or MSN or any number of other hosts.

I used to create a backup of my entire system to a Zip drive once a week.
This soon required two zip disks, then 3 and then a dozen. I switched to
tape, which helped for a while. Before too long, however, I found my backups
took all night long and required several tape changes. This was getting out
of hand not only did the backup require an incredible amount of time, but
the system was slow while it was running and it was obvious that it would be
very difficult to do a restore if it became necessary.

At this point, many people make the fatal decision to stop performing
backups at all. This is not a good idea, as there are many hazards to the
health of your computer.

Hundreds and even thousands of new viruses are created monthly. Any one of
these could destroy your system and erase years of work. Even if you have
the best antivirus software on the planet, there is still the possibility
that a new virus could get through your defenses.
A hacker could penetrate your firewalls (assuming you have one) and do
whatever he pleased. He could, if he wanted, delete files, modify them or
even download them to his own system.

Your system could be damaged or destroyed by more mundane threats such as
water leaking from the upstairs bathtub or mice chewing on the disk cables.

You could accidentally delete files yourself.

A new installation of a program or an operating system upgrade could
render your system unusable.

I have heard tales of lightening striking nearby power poles and rendering
systems completely unusable.

So if your system is getting so crowded that is is difficult if not
impossible to perform a full backup, what do you do to protect yourself?

About the Author

Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets. This
website includes over 1,000 free articles to improve your internet
profits, enjoyment and knowledge.
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