02 July 2012

Saving Yourself From a Computer Crash

--> An Ounce of Preparation

Almost everyone has heard stories about a student who has a paper due the next day and is burning the midnight oil to finish it, only to lose the whole thing at the last minute due to a computer crash. Thankfully, there are things to do ahead of time to protect yourself in case of an untimely computer failure. All of your data can be backed up, and getting the methods in place before sending a computer off to college can make the backup process more likely to happen on a regular basis at college.

External Hard Drive

Backing up data somewhere other than the computer's main hard drive is essential because it will allow you to restore data, even if the hard drive isn’t functioning at all. All students should have an external hard drive with a capacity at least as large as the computer itself. This makes it possible to do a full backup of the system on a regular basis. Choosing a hard drive that connects through something faster than a USB cable will increase the speed of the backups and make it more likely that they'll happen in the midst of a busy college schedule.

Backup Software

Using backup software to create the backups makes it easier to restore data. Both Windows and Mac operating systems have a backup utility built right in, and using this simplifies everything because the operating system will help schedule backups, implement them, and store the data in a way that's easy to access if there's a data loss. Try Time Machine on a Mac or Backup Utility on a Windows system. Scheduling backups weekly throughout the school year (and daily during finals), will prevent major losses.

Outlook Recovery

Students often rely on communication with one another for group projects, and having a computer crash in the middle of a project can be disastrous if all of the communication was stored in Outlook. Thankfully, Outlook recovery tools can back up messages and attachments and restore them after a crash. Another solution is for students to rely on web-based email instead, which makes it easy to access all messages and attachments from any computer connected to the Internet.

Photo Recovery

College isn't just about the classwork, and many students create huge libraries of photos documenting their time on campus. However, these photos can be lost, and corrupted data can quickly erase hundreds, or thousands, of memorable photos. PhotoRec is one of the best options to have on hand for restoring photos and other files. It can get them either from a computer hard disk or from the camera's memory card, even after they appear to be gone. Although PhotoRec can't guarantee that your photos won't be lost, it is a good option to try.

An ounce of preparation before heading to college can save you from tons of headaches later. Setting up habits of saving documents to multiple places and establishing automated backups ensures that data will be recoverable. Students can also carry a memory stick and save important documents to that as well for one more layer of security, especially during finals. Losing even just an hour of work can make the difference during finals, so you should be careful to back up data in a secure location.

Contributed by Joe Baker

You can reach him at josephbker@gmail.com