5 little known steps that you can take to ensure that your data is safe. A hard-drive crash is devastating, and it is something that no one wants to go through. That’s why you should follow each of these steps to help prevent hard drive crashes, and in the case that one does occur, insure that your data is safe.
1.The “B” Word
One of the most painful things ever is when your hard drive crashes.It puts you into a state of disbelief.What could make this situation even worse?Well, sometimes, its the thought that you never backed up your computer.This is the importance of backing up your data Regularly. You can backup your datas on CDs, DVDs or a removable HD. Or you could even use online service such as Carbonite or Mozy which back up your data to an online. C’mon, be honest, how many times have you thought of backing up your hard drive but you said something along the lines of “Ill do it tomorrow”.You’re not alone.Experts advise that you should backup at least once per week.I however would backup twice per week, as well as immediately after I have stored some very important data.Backing up doesn’t always mean dumping your whole HD.Some programs allow incremental backups which backup your whole HD the first time then only modified files after that.Backing up is extremely important no matter what OS you have (although some OSs reduce the chance of a crash), how fast your computer is or any other stat like that, because nobody is protected from bad luck.
2.Make sure YOU are the only one using your data
Viruses, Spyware, Adware, Rootkits, Worms, Wabbits, Trojans, Backdoors, Exploits, keyloggers, dialers, hijackers.What do those 12 terms have in common?They are all types of malware.Malware is a short form for “Malicious Software” which is software designed to harm your computer or steal your data.Here are some tips on how to protect yourself:
Spyware, dialers, backdoors and root kits – Before you can protect yourself you need to know what these do.Spyware and adware are often bundled together.Spyware does just what it says.It spies on you.Dialers dial telephone numbers via your computer’s modem.They often dial expensive long distance calls at your expense.Backdoors open up a “backdoor” to your computer allowing other computers to connect with you to distribute malware.Rootkits are designed to camouflage itself in a system’s core processes so as to go undetected. It is the hardest of all malware to detect and therefore to remove.To protect yourself from these types of malware, all you need is a good two way firewall.These block all attempts to access your computer unless you specifically allow it.They also block attempts for programs to access the internet unless you allow it.Zone Alarm is an amazing freeware program which does just that.It can be downloaded here.
Trojans, keyloggers, viruses, worms, wabbits and hijackers – Trojans are arguably the most dangerous kind of malware. While Trojans rarely destroy computers or even files, that’s only because they have bigger targets: your financial information, your computer’s system resources, and other extremely sensitive data.Keyloggers are pretty self evident, they log your keystrokes. That’s it.Viruses are programs (usually embedded inside other programs or files) that duplicate its self and then spread to other machines via e-mail etc.Worms are a slight variation on a virus.They usually target networks and they are not embedded.Wabbits are very rare.They are a virus except they have no instruction to spread to other machines.Their sole purpose is to utterly devastate a single machine.Hijackers are in essence, a form of adware.They hijack your searches and display websites of their choice.These things are a little harder to fully prevent.With the previous category, the malware can be stopped immediately.This category, however, can only be detected once your computer is infected.A good anti-virus program will be able to catch these things before they are able to do any significant damage.AVG antivirus is free and good.You can download it here.
Exploits attack specific security vulnerabilities. You know how Microsoft is always announcing new updates for its operating system? Often enough the updates are really trying to close the security hole targeted in a newly discovered exploit.To best prevent these, try to download OS updates regularly.
3.Monitor your Hard-drive
This might snot seem so obvious but it is tremendously important.Hard drives spin really fast (thousands of RPM) and heat up to around 30-40 degrees Celsius. Because the hard drive is one of the only moving parts in a computer, it is the most delicate. If your computer is not properly ventilated, it can overheat and crash. Extreme heat could even warp the disc that your data is stored on. That’s why it is always important to monitor your hard-drive’s temperature, as well as health. A couple of good programs are Active SMART and HDDLife.
4. Defrag your hard drive regularly.
This is another thing that is not very obvious.Defragging actually speeds up your computer without installing any 3rd party apps.A lot of people know that it works but not very many people know how it works.Here I will describe the latter.Your disk is divided into many parts with sizes already predetermined (like 512 bytes).These parts are called sectors.When you add files to a new HDD they all go into one sector if possible and if not they go into sequential sectors. When you edit a file, it will store the new information on a different sector, because the previous sector is full. This builds up, and eventually your hard drive must access hundreds of different sectors to load a single program, making read/write arm swing all over the place.This makes the loading process slow. Defragging your hard drive rearranges these files so that all program files are on sequential, if not a single sector, which makes the overall process faster.
5.Encrypt sensitive data
Even if you take all of the security precautions, the only way to fully prevent the risk of malware is to unplug your internet connection. This method is extremely impractical because… well… your not connected to the internet. That is why you should always encrypt your data. Not only does it save your data from malicious software, but it also makes sure that no one can access files on your computer physically, without the password.There are a lot of freeware data encryption programs… some of which are very good.There are programs like AxCrypt or TrueCrypt that will do this for you.If you are really considering this, there are programs that you can buy which are extremely effective like Encrypt-Easy which has the capability to encrypt with tons of algorithms. And if you get two encryption programs… you could in theory encrypt the encrypted file!
Another excellent method of data protection is colocation. This is where you allow another organization to protect your data. Though you might not be initially comfortable with this idea at first, once you do some research by looking into a colocation wiki, you’ll see that there are countless benefits to this method of protection. Colocation experts treat all data with the utmost care, and ensure that you’ll be safe in case of emergency. This can end up saving you a great deal of money of time, even if you’re representing a small business.