Thursday, January 13, 2011

PCs, Macs, and Data Loss: Be Religious About Your Backups, Not Your Platform

I've been getting some push-back from Mac users feeling superior about my last post regarding Java and malware on Windows. I see no reason to ignite another dogmatic conflict at a time when the President is asking the nation to keep our discourse civil.

I will say that in my practice I've found that the vast majority of actual data loss comes not from malware attacks, but the simple and preventable lack of backups. Macs and PCs are both heir to the same silicon ills - dead hard disks, user error, and plain bad luck. You can save yourself from 99% of computer problems by being religious about your backups, not your platform.

Every version of Windows since NT and Mac OS since 10.5 has included an excellent and free backup utility, NTBackup for Windows up to and including XP, Windows Backup and Restore Center for Vista and Windows 7, and Time Machine for Mac OS. Older versions of Mac OS can use a free version of Shirt Pocket Software's wonderful SuperDuper, although the full version is well worth the $30 to be able to automate it. With USB hard drives under $80 for a terabyte, you simply have no excuse to be unprotected.

Do something now, before your data disappears and your hard disk's magnets join the Elephant's Graveyard on my refrigerator.

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