A few basic steps for protecting your precious data. Let’s face it, most of us have lost a file at some point that we really needed. The fact of it is, hard drives wear out or sometimes just dye. People drop laptops, wash Flash drives with their jeans or simply loose memory chips from their cameras.
I can’t stop your drive from failing, you from dropping your laptop, washing a flash drive or losing a memory chip. But I can help you avoid be so deeply affected by these losses with a few data backup basics.
The second rule of backing up data:
Test your Backup!!!
I can not express severely enough how important this is except to say, not testing your backup is 99% as bad as not making one in the first place.
Over more than 20 years of working on computers and performing data recoveries at least half of the devices sent to me were the backup drives which had failed and at least 10% were drives that had a backup but the backup failed. That means no less than 60% of all the recovery work I’ve done in the last 20 years could have been easily prevented by spending a few minutes testing your backup.
Let’s go over the basics of testing your backup in an efficient manor. If you use the simplest form of backup, copying files, as is, to another device. you can put that backup into virtually any computer with the same programs installed, including the one it was made on, open My Computer and browse through the folder to see the files are there. What most people fail to do is check that they are intact. All you need to do is browse through the folders with with your view setting set to thumbnail in XP or older versions of windows or Large Icons selected in Vista or 7.
This will cause the computer to have each program that can open each file generate a picture view of the file be it a picture, word document, PDF file etc. You may have to wait a minute or two for the folder to complete the thumbnails but it’s worth the wait. Scroll down through the directory/folder and ensure all files have a related image, not the program they were made with Icons. For example, word documents should give a preview that shows the text not the “W” symbol.
Music is a different beast than most as no thumbnail will be available but you can simply sort the files in your directory by type, then select all of the music files. Once selected right-click one of them and select preview. Like the band scanner on most car stereos it will load all the music files then play only the first 3-5 seconds of each file an skip to the next. In windows media player it will highlight in red any songs that failed to play. If any are red, go play the original and if it works re-copy to the backup drive. If the original doesn’t play, go to your previous backup, restore that file then recopy the backup and you’re back in business.
I’ll post more regarding the other types of testing in my next few blogs as this is a big topic.