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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Data Loss Catastrophe Averted

Imagine my disdain when I logged onto my PC earlier this week and found that my 300 GB music drive was no longer recognized by Windows. Upon investigation (digging into the Disk Management tool in the MMC) I was able to determine that although Windows could find the physical drive, it was seeing it as unallocated & unformatted despite the 200+ GB of data I had on the disk. My best guess is that somehow the master boot record on the drive got blown away, causing the OS to no longer be able to read the data. Whatever the cause though let's just say it was bad stuff.

After panicking for awhile, I got down to doing some research and found a data recovery tool called GetDataBack from RunTime Software. The tool is free to run on your machine, so you can download it, run it and see exactly what files it's going to be able to recover. It took about 8 hours to run the analysis on my machine, but when it finished it was able to rebuild my entire drive. To actually restore the files you have to buy a $69 license (which include free lifetime updates), but it was a small price to pay to get all of my data back. After buying a license and running the restore (another 8 or so hours) things seem to be back to normal. So far I haven't noticed a single corrupt or missing file.

Moving forward, I've decided to invest in an online back-up service to supplement the periodic CD archives I do. I looked at two services, Mozy and Carbonite. Each service has a small software client which integrates with the Windows Explorer. The client monitors your machien usage and opportunistically uploads the files you want to archive when your machine is not busy. For about $5 a month you get the software and unlimited disk space to store your files. Since these services run in the background, you no longer have to remember to do backupsm they just happen. The off-site back-up also is useful if there's ever a major disaster which destroys your local backups (house fire, flood, etc). You can download free trials of each tool to give the services a test run. After evaluating both, I ended up going with Mozy as it provides support for External USB drives (a feature Carbonite is sorely lacking). I've already uploaded about 4 GBs of data (about half of my digital photos) in the 2 days I've been running it and so far it seems to be working flawlessly. For $60 a year it seems like a sound investment (at least until Microsoft and/or Google come out with their competing services)

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6:08 PM


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