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What If You No Longer Existed? (Part 1)

Oct 9, 2007
This is not a new age riddle or philosophical question; it is a real problem that millions of people face more frequently that most people realize. It might happen because of a lightning strike or a power spike. YOU could be stolen, corrupted, burnt up, get washed away or just disappear for no apparent reason. YOU are your data, and losing your data could actually be the most terrifying thing that will ever happen to you - and believe me, sooner or later it will happen to YOU.

Most of us are "knowledge workers" (expression made famous by Peter Drucker in 1959), a phrase used to categorize the computer workforce of today. Our daily work tasks are performed using computers and in an incredibly short span this occupational technology was incorporated into our personal lives via the personal computer. No one could have predicted that the PC, which was once purely a business tool, would become a 'lifestyle enhancer' as commonplace or as invaluable as microwave ovens and cable TV.

With the exception of a decreasing non-computer literate senior citizen population, do you know anyone who does not have a PC in their home? Broadband Internet and home networks are a staple of modern life. We shop, do our banking, research, trade stocks, download music and videos, connect to our business, play games and communicate with the world from our personal computers. Most of us have a detailed history of our lives stored on our PCs. From our financial records to family photos, who we are - is bits on a hard drive.

If the "ones and zeros" that make up your life disappear, it will be as if you never existed.

At one time or another, all of us have lost a file. You remember that important letter or report you were working on? You had hours, maybe days invested in it and all of a sudden it was gone. Poof! It is one thing to lose a file, but it is still another to lose a lifetime of data, pictures, videos, music, financial records and other irreplaceable information. Yet, statistics show that one in every ten hard drives fail each year. Were you aware that the cost of recovering a failed hard drive can exceed $7,500, and no service company will guarantee success?

The point is, if you use a computer, you absolutely, positively MUST have a backup system in place - before tomorrow. So what's the best approach that suits your individual needs? At a bare minimum, you need to backup to a separate PC or external hard drive such as a Maxtor. The main drawback with this option is that if the back-up machine is in the same building, you are still susceptible to loss through natural disasters, fire, power surges, lightening and theft. Most IT professionals recommend that you backup your data to a remote location.

Over the years, I have utilized everything from boxes of diskettes or CDs to external hard drives to backup my important files. I stay current with the best solutions for backup because I've been a victim of data loss and I refuse to go through that again. The obvious questions to remote backup services pertain to security, software configuration, storage limitations, ease of use and cost.

There are many off-premises (remote) backup companies, but there are only a handful that have addressed all of these important concerns. I did my research, and ultimately I chose the same solution recommended by Consumer Reports, the Wall Street Journal, PC World, Smart Computing and Business Week and others. If you do not have a backup solution, I would encourage you to look at a company called Mozy (Berkeley Data Systems).

I chose Mozy for my business and personal data backup, and I have recommended them to all of my clients. Their service is ridiculously inexpensive for unlimited data backup, it is easy to set up and offers downright bulletproof protection for your sensitive data. After you create an account, you will download their software, follow a few easy set up instructions, select the files you want to backup, and Mozy takes care of the rest.

Depending on the amount of data you have to backup, it will take a while to copy, encrypt and transfer all your data to the remote servers for the initial backup. Mozy performs their backup in the background so it will not affect your computer's speed adversely, and you can even throttle that down if needed. Once the first backup is complete, Mozy only backs up new files and those that have changed since your last process. This makes subsequent backups very fast. I perform my daily backups at 2:00 AM and every morning Mozy confirms that my files were backed up while I slept. Sweet!

By the way, if you are concerned about the security of your remote data (and you should be), Mozy uses 128-bit SSL encryption during the transfer process, which is the same technology used by banks. On their servers 448-bit Blowfish encryption secures your files, meaning that your data is safe from hackers. Another powerful feature is that Mozy will backup your documents whether they're open or closed and they backup Outlook files providing disaster-proof email protection.

The best part is that you can get all this for only $4.95 per month for unlimited backup. World-class backup, state-of-the-art security, automatic administration and 100% peace of mind. Why are you still reading this... you know you need a reliable, set it and forget it, backup solution. Get Mozy!
About the Author
Tom Heatherington has been an Internet consultant since 1996. He co-founded one of the first ISPs in the U.S. in 1992. Tom is the author of "The Complete Small Business Internet Guide" and numerous articles about Internet marketing and security. Learn more: http://www.diy-secure.com
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