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Data Storage and Disaster Recovery

Updated on September 25, 2013

Protecting Your Data

What I have learned

I have found in my experience as an IT Support Technician, and as a present and former help desk tier 2-3 Technician, and call center customer service representative. Data storage and disaster recovery are an area of computer technology that a majority of people either have little or no knowledge of whatsoever. I have taken many of the calls over the years from desperate and anxious customers who were looking for someone with solutions to problems ranging from forgotten passwords, to being locked out of their computers due to blue screen of death incidents. All of which could have been prevented with a little fore thought and knowledge about backing up their important data and documents regularly either manually or by automation through scheduled backups.

Most common responses from those needing help

This also applies to owners of smart phones and tablet devices. The number of calls received on a daily basis for such emergencies numbers in the hundreds daily at many tech support call centers around the globe. The most common answer to the question ‘have you ever backed up your computer or smart phone’ is no. The second most common answer to this question is ‘ I didn’t know I was supposed to back it up’ and the third most common answer being ‘ how do I do that, I don’t know how’. Now while some of you who do know how or make a habit out of performing a back up of you computing devices regularly may find it amusing the answers given, the person with the emergency and desperate need to retrieve their access or information however does not. And when people have failed to take simple precautionary steps to protect their data it can be a catastrophic loss in some cases.

Case Scenarios

For example I once had a woman call because her iPhone had suddenly stopped working just hours after using it before without any hint of their being a problem. She had just been married the day before and had taken pictures of the wedding and the reception party afterwards using her phone. Thinking that pictures of the greatest day of her were safe and sound on her phone. She’d had the phone for over a year, but had never once had the notion or thought of making a back up of the contacts data, music, and photos stored on her phone. Unfortunately in her case, the only remedy to her phone issue was to completely wipe all of the data from the phone and restore it to factory settings as a new phone. A major unrecoverable loss for her.

Another example was when a woman called from Colorado about restoring phone numbers to her husbands iPhone because she had inadvertently erased those numbers from her iPhone. The issue here was that they had been sharing the same Apple ID on both phones. Which seems to be a common practice among families and couples. Her actions to delete numbers from her phone, because she had no need of the contacts on her personal phone, had also affected her husband phone as well. The husband was the local fire chief and the numbers she had deleted were for important emergency contacts that her husband needed to have immediately as a major forest fire had broken out due to a lightning strike in the area, and people and resources needed to be mobilized quickly. Luckily they had been performing regular back ups of the data and I was able to retrieve and restore the information to her husband phone, so that he could make the necessary calls to deal with the emergency. So you see there are some cases where the ending is a happy one.

These are just a few of the more important instances in people’s lives where a little knowledge and action would have been difference between the loss of important data or loss of life and property. In all or most cases these types of disasters can be avoided completely by following a few simple steps to protect your valuable data from loss and irretrievability.

Preventative Measures

Both Windows and Apple based computer operating systems offer end users the means of backing up their precious data by making a few simple system configuration settings and a small investment in a storage device to hold this backed up data on from which it can be retrieved and restored. Many people are able to comprehend the need to put these preventative measures into effect, but sometimes this epiphany does not come about until after a major incident occurs resulting in loss of data. Windows employs a back up and recovery option usually located in the control panel section of the OS, While Apple offers Time Machine as the application for performing back ups of important OS and personal data.

Many people do make it a practice to back up their smart phones and tablet devices either to the cloud or directly to their computers. In the case of smart phones some manufacturers such Reasearch In Motion and Samsung offer their customers applications that can be installed on their computers for this very purpose. The bottom line is that an ounce of protection is going to be worth more than a pound of cure. You should learn to make it a habit of not only learning how you can back up your data, but also of doing it regularly on a schedule of your choosing or having it done automatically for you by setting a schedule for backing up your computers and devices.

The most common question I have also gotten is about weather the computer needs to be on or not in order for backups to be performed on an automated schedule. I always answer yes to this question, one because it is obvious that you computer be on to allow for the schedule action to take place. Two because I have found that computing devices are actually made to remain on and in a lower power or sleep mode, from which they can be awakened. As a side note I also discovered through many years of experience using computers, that those that were left on and were not constantly subjected to being shutdown and restarted, tended to last many years longer than those which were not.

What Can Be Done

Disaster recovery can be made simple or not possible at all, based upon you knowledge and actions in the use and care of your computing devices. Just as a car requires regular maintenance and care for long years of service, so does your electronic and computing devices also. These are major purchases for many people depending upon the brand and manufacturer of the device. Just as when you purchase a home, you purchase homeowners insurance to protect your investment. You should invest a little time and effort in learning how to protect your data from loss or damages, which can easily be prevented or safeguarded against.


Lastly I would like to address one last area of comment that I have heard more often than any other in my many years of experience. That is when people make the comment that they are not ‘tech-savvy’. I have never known quite how to answer someone who uses this phrase for why they don’t know how to care for their devices or protect that which is most precious to them. Technology is here to help make life easier, not harder. Most technology actually wants to teach you everything about itself and how it works so as to make it easier for you to take advantage of what it offers you. The greatest thing I have tried to learn and employ is how to simplify the explanations and reasoning behind how much of these devices, work by designed and function. Sometimes the simplicity of it all still manages to confound the best of us, but this is a result of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. What I like to call F.U.D.

I try to encourage people to take the time to overcome their F.U.D of technology to have an open mind and challenge them selves to learn new things. Even an old dog can learn new tricks, simply because it still likes getting treats. The treat in learning something new comes from ones sense of accomplishment and achievement. So be brave, it’s a brave new world out there and it’s yours for the taking. Be proactive and less reactive when it comes to protecting your data.

How to setup Windows 8 Back up

Backing Up a Known Good Configuration

Be sure to perform backups of your devices when they working and behaving as expected. If you device is infected with a virus, trojan horse, malware, or spyware during your back up. Then you back up will also contain the infection. The key is to perform backups when all is well with your computer, so that you can restore it to a known good configuration.

Backup and Recovery Strategies


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