How to protect your computer from natural disasters
There's nothing like an earthquake and an accompanying power outage to rattle the cage of any computer user. Funny thing is that disasters always seem to occur when you least expect them--like on a Sunday morning at 7:07 am.
Obviously the temblor should serve us all as a wake up call that we need to be prepared for disaster at any time. On that note I've made two very basic suggestions that could save you grief the next time nature shows its power.
» Get a UPS.
No I'm not talking about the company with the brown vans. As we learned a few Sundays ago, a 100 percent dependable power supply does not exist. Our friends at HECO do the best they can to provide reliable, reasonably priced power, but sags, surges and even power outages are a fact of life.
The best insurance policy to counter this is to install a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). An uninterrupted power supply, as the name implies, provides the electricity to allow your computer to run--at least for a little while when the regular power is cut off. It also shields your computer from power surges that otherwise might seriously damage or destroy your data. Most of the units on the market today also come with software that is intelligent enough to save any documents that happen to be open and cleanly shut down the operating system before the UPS' battery runs down.
UPSs for your home are available in a variety of sizes, from $100 units that will keep your box running for 10 minutes to $3,000+ models that can keep an entire network going for an hour. There are a number of firms that make these units but I've used the APC model 750 ES, which retails for about $100, and it works fine.
Storage technology has gotten a lot more robust in the last 20 years, but it's amazing how fragile these hard drives still are. So to protect your data, here are some back-up options:
» Get an external drive. They attach to your computer's USB port, and once set up will provide daily backups. They come in all kinds of configurations, but for less than $150 you can buy the Maxtor OneTouch III Mini Edition R01E100 100 GB USB 2.0 Hard Drive.
» Sign up for an online service that allows you to upload your data automatically to a remote location via a broadband connection. The cost for this starts from about $10 per month for a 5 gigabytes of data. (Oceanic and other ISPs have this type of product but it's also available as a standalone service with @Backup, DataProtector, IBackup and Xdrive.)
» Back up your data on media such as CDs or DVDs.
Remember, whether it's a manmade catastrophe or a product of mother nature, it's only a matter of time before something bad could happen to your computer. Be prepared.
, general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable, has been a telecommunications and computer expert for 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org