How to stay one step ahead of the next disaster
OCT. 15 was the first anniversary of "the" earthquake. In case you forgot, on that fateful sunny Sunday, the entire state pretty much shut down. In the temblor's aftermath there were many discussions about preparedness and emergency response. My question is: Are you better prepared now than last October?
I'm not just talking about stocking up on bottled water and sardines for your home. Rather, have you done anything to protect your PC?
On that note I have two very basic suggestions that could save you grief the next time nature displays its power.
I know it's been said 100 times before, but you'd be surprised how many people still don't get it: Back up your data!
Get an online service that allows you to upload your files automatically to a remote location via broadband connection. I've used a service called Mozy (Mozy.com), which gives you unlimited backup capacity starting at about $5 a month. It works in the background and has been very dependable. On the rare occasions I've had problems, its support service has been helpful. (Note that they also have a free service called Mozy Home that backs up data up to 2 gigs at no cost.)
You can also install a "RAID" system, which replicates your data, or utilize an external drive. The latter connects to your computer's USB port, and once set up, will provide daily backups. External drives come in all kinds of configurations, but for about $150 you can buy a unit from Maxtor, or other manufacturers, that will give you several hundred gigs of space.
These are good solutions, but I prefer a system like Mozy, which backs up your data to a server on the mainland. Why? When disaster strikes, such as a flood or fire, a RAID system doesn't preserve your data and backups on an external drive are only as current as the last time you moved your media to a "safe" location.
I'd also buy a UPS (uninterruptable power supply). As we learned last year, a totally dependable power grid does not exist. Sags, surges and even power outages are a fact of life, and a UPS provides enough electricity to allow your computer to run for a short time after the regular power cuts off.
Most of the units on the market today also come with software that will save any documents that happen to be open, and cleanly shut down the operating system before the UPS's battery runs down. It also shields your PC from power surges that might damage or destroy your data.
A UPS is available in a variety of sizes and prices from $100 models that will keep your box running for 10 minutes, to $3,000+ units that power an entire network for an hour.
I'm not a fortune teller, but I can guarantee that at some point our islands will suffer another disaster. Now's the time to prepare.