The best way to ensure that you don’t lose important documents is to always back up your data in multiple locations. The more vigilant you are in your backup habits, the less likely you will face frustrating, and sometimes unsuccessful, recovery efforts. Class papers, notes, research, theses, dissertations, address books, and bookmarks are all files that are difficult to recreate. Software applications, on the other hand, can be reinstalled; although you may need to spend time configuring or customizing the software each time.
Keeping multiple copies of important files in different folders on your hard drive won’t help. Hard drives can break or fail, just like any piece of hardware. Consider the worst-case scenario, where your computer is stolen, and you need something from your hard drive. One of the most common problems these days are virus/spyware infections. Most customers decide to reimage or recover their machines to resolve these infections. Having your data and especially your system files backed up ahead of time can make this process quick and easy.
Automated Full Data Backup Solution: Connected Backup
Autonomy’s (formerly Iron Mountain) Connected Backup service provides an online backup and recovery solution for all of your data. Backups are created using this software, which allows recovery of data even if the hard drive is replaced or the computer is stolen. Data is encrypted and stored at an off-site secure location and is accessible via the software or the web. This is a true disaster recovery solution. Any UNC affiliate may purchase a yearly Connected Backup license, using their UNC One Card Expense Plan, for use on their personal computer(s). Departmental bulk orders must be paid by departments using an FRS account.
For information on ordering, see ITS Software’s Iron Mountain document.
Manual Data Backup Solution
All of these solutions are manual, meaning that you have to manually find, select and copy the files that you want backed up. There is software available that can assist with this process. At this time ITS does not provide support for any software with that ability. Also note that all of these solutions are limited in the amount of data that they can store and they typically can not backup your entire hard drive, only data files.
USB Hard Drives
The benefit of this solution is that it’s a one-time charge, assuming you buy a hard drive that is large enough and you can buy external drives that are as large as your computer’s hard drive. The biggest problem with this solution is that it relies on yet another hard drive, which are prone to failure, just like a laptop hard drive. This solution is also subject to a virus attack which could be designed to delete all of your data files. If your computer is stolen and your USB HD is nearby, it may be stolen as well.
USB Memory Keys
A USB Memory Key is a portable storage device, very similar to USB hard drives, that uses flash memory and connects to your USB port. Memory keys offer considerably more space for you to store files and are compatible with the ITS computers in the labs on campus, which makes printing a breeze. The size of these devices can range from 2MB to 4GB or more, but they don’t come close to the size of hard drives. The price per size ratio is much higher than with regular hard drives. Although they don’t have physically moving parts, they are so small that they can still be damaged and your data destroyed.
A CD/DVD Writer is simply a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive that can save information to recordable CDs (CD-R or CD-RW) or DVDs (DVD-R or DVD-RW). CDs/DVDs are more flexible than most media because they can be used in many different types of players (computer, home stereo, etc.) and can hold up to 700MB (CDs) or 4.5GB (DVDs) of data. Recordable discs are very cheap, making them an economically smart solution for backing up your data. They are great for archiving data that you don’t need often, but they aren’t the best solution for constantly changing data. Discs can also be scratched or damaged by the sun, which may result in the loss of data.
AFS Network Space (H: drive)
AFS space is available to you on the UNC-CH campus network. Before you can use AFS on your computer, it is recommended that you first install and configure the OpenAFS client, although there are alternatives for accessing AFS space. See the document UNC AFS Client Installation Guide for Windows Vista/XP/2000 for more details. (Note that the software may be preinstalled on CCI computers, so you may skip that section in the documentation.) Once the client is configured, you will be able to access your file space via the H: drive on your computer by opening the My Computer icon. There will be a folder called “documents” on your H: drive, where we strongly recommend you back up your important files. AFS is a safe and convenient place to store your documents, because it is backed up every night and because you can access it from any computer with an Internet connection by using the OpenAFS client and/or Secure Shell, both of which may be downloaded from http://shareware.unc.edu . This solution is great because your data is safe while stored on our network server, which is also backed up nightly. The main drawback is that it’s limited to 100MB for Undergraduates or 250MB for Faculty/Staff/Graduate Students. Most of the options above have a much higher capacity.