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Backup Hardware
October 2002

Russell James is Operations Manager at BJ Associates of San Antonio. They are an authorized service center for Toshiba and Sony systems. They are the laptop specialist and also handle system builds and parts for desktops. They can take care of any IBM compatible hardware or software problem that you have.


Last month we discussed the location of your data and some of the places that Microsoft and the other companies like to store it. We also discussed the fact that if you wanted to backup your data, you would need to find it. The next logical step is to make things easier on you and make sure that everything that you do is stored in the same folder to make it easier to find when you do your backups. Hopefully, some of you took a look at the many locations of your data and consolidated them to one central location.

This month I would like to look at some of the options that you have to get your data backed up. As we discussed last month, you will need to make a decision as to what you would like to back up before you can decide what device you need to perform the job. If you have made the decision to do a full backup, you will need a device that will hold the entire contents of your system. In order to do this you will need to know how big your hard drive is. You can find this out by right clicking on your C drive in Windows Explorer and then clicking on Properties. This will give you a pie chart of the drive showing used space, free space and total capacity. Your backup should be able to handle at least the used space but preferably the total capacity of the drive.

A tape drive is going to be the best choice for a full system backup. You can buy a Seagate internal IDE 10gb/20gb drive for about $300. This drive will backup 10 gigabytes of data up to 20 gigabytes with compression. The drive comes with one tape and some generic backup software. Extra tapes will be about $40 each.

For those of you that just need to backup your data, there are a number of options that are available. The size of the data is still going to be a determining factor in which option you should choose. Since you have all moved all of your data to one main folder, all you will need to do is right click on the folder in Windows Explorer to find out the size of the data. As an example, my documents folder is about 400 megabytes. This is not bad considering that 100 megabytes is my Outlook pst files.

My data would be a good candidate for the CDRW method of backing up. A CDROM will hold about 650 megabytes of data in an uncompressed form. My 400 megabyte document folder would compress to about 200 megabytes so that would leave plenty of room for any future growth in the folder. You can buy a rewritable CDROM drive for about $60 and the media will cost a little over a dollar for each disk. These can be reused until you finalize the CD. You could also use regular disks that are single use which can be found on sale for about 10 cents per CD including a mail in rebate. The choice would be yours but remember that the plain CDs are a single use item. Burn it once and it is done.

If the CD method is not for you, there are still many options to explore. The old faithful Zip disk comes in a 250 megabyte size that would be just right for my data right now. The drive will cost you about $100 and the disks are about $12. This may seem to be a little high compared to the CD but it is a time tested solution. You would see the drive in your system just like your main C drive. You would then be able to copy or use a backup program to archive your data to any number of removable disks.

Another choice would be to add an external drive to your system. There are a number of USB drive caddies available. Some of them sell for as little as $40 for the case and you simply add a standard 3.5” drive. A 100 gigabyte drive will cost you about $150. Others come with drives in assorted sizes starting at about $200. This solution also would give you another drive letter when the drive was attached in Windows. This would add the most storage to your system as well as giving you an external location to backup your data.

Take a look at the options that are available to you and make a choice that you can live with and use on a regular basis. It is not going to do any good to make the decision and then not follow through. You need to make a plan and then follow through with the acquisition of the hardware as well as actually doing the backups. Remember that if you are one of the few who actually have a plan and follow it, you will probably never need to recover from a disaster based on the inverse of Murphy’s Law.


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