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Data Backup Guide - Online and Hardware Solutions Examined

By: Cameron Wilmot | Guides | Posted: Jan 9, 2007 5:00 am

Maintaining Data Integrity


Now that we've finished talking about the online and offline backup solutions, we want to provide some general tips in maintaining data integrity. Even though you've got the data backed up, there are still some practices that should be followed to help avoid data loss.


These tips are for new computers users and most of our regular readers could skip this page.


#1 Tip - Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware If you aren't running Anti-Virus software on your system you are making the first mistake in risking your data. Although most viruses are relatively harmless, there are plenty out there that will make a mess of your system in quick time. Many of the writers at TweakTown including myself use AVG Free which is a brilliant virus scanner which is free and is updated with new virus definitions almost every day.



There are a lot of anti-spyware programs out on the market now but one which I have personally been using for a long time is Spybot: Search and Destroy. It's one of the oldest anti-spyware programs out there and also one of the best. Give it a try - just make sure you try and run it at least every few days and keep it updated!


Generally speaking, just watch what you are doing on the Internet - don't just download anything without knowing if the source is reliable. When you get email with unusual attachments, don't open them. Make sure you know who you are allowing to access your network - there are network viruses which can infect all computers on your network very quickly.


#2 Tip - Be careful with your drives I rarely see or hear anyone caution new computer users about being careful with their hard drives. They are very sensitive and are not at all susceptible to being dropped or whatever else. If impact is caused on the drive, you have a strong chance of breaking the drives internals and rendering the drive useless. Common sense should prevail, just be careful and gentle - treat them like your new born!


Equally important is heat - always make sure your drives are operating in a cool environment. Back a few years ago, IBM produced a bunch of drives now named "Death Star" which were prone to failure one month after use if not actively cooled with cooling fans. While things seem to be better now in the HDD industry, the cooler you can have your drives operating, the better - they'll pay you back by lasting long and not starting to make strange sounds at you. Just make sure your computer case has adequate cooling and try not to place the drives too close together, as that will reduce air flow. If you can add extra cooling fans, that is the best idea.


#3 - Learn about RAID arrays If you are going to use a RAID array and your data is important, make sure you take some time to learn about the technology and how it works. RAID 0, while offering increased performance, provides a huge risk if one of the drives in the array happens to fail. If it fails, your data will be extremely hard to recover since the data is split between both drives. Some of the data will be recoverable but only data with file sizes that are less than the stripe size, which is usually 128kb or less.



If your data is important to you and you want to be protected, the best RAID arrays are 1, 5 and 10. RAID 1 is simple storage technology in that drive a will mirror everything to drive b - it doesn't provide any performance benefits but you've always got a complete backup in case one drive goes bad. RAID 5 is more complex in that it combines data striping (RAID 0) with distributed parity for data protection. That means, if you have three drives in a RAID 5 array, one drive can fail and your data is still safe. RAID 10 is a mixture of RAID 0 and RAID 1 in one (hence the name) and it is designed if you want the performance benefits of RAID 0 but with the safety of RAID 1. It is a set of drives combined into a striped array (RAID 0) and then the striped array is mirrored (RAID 1) to another identical set of striped drives.


Summarizing it up, if you only have three spare drives available for your RAID array, RAID 5 is your best option. If you have four spare drives available for your RAID array then RAID 10 will be best.


That's all folks!


That's the end of our article. Don't take the risk - just about anyone's data is valuable or important in one or another. Back up your data and avoid the nightmares and frustrations of data loss!


We would love to hear your opinion on what methods you use to protect your data. Will you try the new era of online backup? Let us know by commenting below or in our forums!

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