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Don't trust your PC! Create a backup

By Sunder Ramachandran
Last updated on: June 13, 2006 16:20 IST
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Let's see if you can put a figure to this one. How much is the information on your computer worth to you?

What if you lost it all?

There's a good chance that every piece of information that enables you to conduct business -- is stored within a small chip -- on your hard drive.

The problem is that you usually get no warning before it's too late. Puff! And all your data is gone.

According to a survey conducted by Protect Data, the foremost reasons for data loss are:

Human error: 32 per cent
Hardware Failure: 44 per cent
Corrupt Software: 14 per cent
Deadly Virus: Seven per cent
Hackers, thefts and natural disaster: Three per cent

The only way out: Keep a backup.

Knowing that your data is absolutely secure, safe and always available will give you the much needed peace of mind and confidence.

Here we tell you how to create a backup for your computer and cell phone.

How often one must do so is a very personal choice. If you use your computer occasionally, a weekly backup might be sufficient. If you use your computer on a daily basis or your work is primarily dependent on the use of a computer, then a daily backup or a biweekly back up is a must.

Offline methods

i. Pen drive

As the name suggests, this is a portable storage device that can store up-to 8GB disk space which, by the way, is about 5,600 times more than what you can store in a floppy disk.

"I travel a lot because of work and Pen drives act as my lifelines. I can just use any computer and access all my data," says Chennai based Ramesh Kulandaivelu, an HR Manager with Aster Gate solutions.

One can't blame his enthusiasm. Take a look at some of the benefits:

  • You can carry it around because it is so compact -- just the size of your thumb.
  • It does not require any battery or software to operate.
  • Just plug it into the USB drive of a computer and you can access your data.
  • You can read, write, copy, delete and move data from your hard disk drive to the Pen Drive or vice versa.
  • You can even play Mp3 files, run applications, view videos or even take high quality digital photos directly from the Pen Drive

Pen drives are available for as little as Rs 1,000 and go up to Rs 10,000 depending on the storage capacity. They are available at all leading stores that sell computer peripherals.

Updating your Pen drive once every two days is a good idea. If you also have a computer at home and can transfer data, then you can even consider updating the Pen drive twice a week.

Kingston and Sony are the two leading brands in Pen drives. A Kingston Pen drive is value for money and can be bought for as little as Rs 800. Sony is expensive and starts at about Rs 2,000.


You can store up to 1GB of data in a CD ROM although the most common size is 650 MB. To make it simple, a CD has a storage capacity of up to 700 floppy disks. You can store about 300,000 text pages in one CD.

You can copy the files and information on to a CD/DVD. In case your hard drive is damaged, you will still have all the important data on your CD which can later be copied again to the computer's hard drive.

If your hard drive is erased or damaged, you can easily restore the data from the archived copy.

Click here to learn more about backing up data on a CD or a DVD from your hard drive:

"Loss of data on your hard-disk can be a paralysing experience but regular back ups on a CD could prove to be an antidote to such an unpredictable experience," says Bangalore based management consultant Joseph Paulson, an ex-joint director, corporate HR with the Indian Air Force.

As CDs can store large chunks of data. Updating it once every week is a good idea.

HP, Sony, Moser Baer are some popular brands. A set of 10 blank CDs from Moser Baer is available for Rs 100 while a pack of 100 CDs would cost you about Rs 800.

iii. Floppy drives

They are kind of outdated and are not very practical as they store only 1.4 megabytes of data so you would need a large collection in order to save all your data. Also you would have to spend long hours in front of the PC swapping them in and out. So use them only as the last option if nothing else is available.

As they can be unreliable, update your floppy disk every day and immediately transfer the data to another source like another computer or CD drive as and when you find one.

A box of 10 floppies would cost you anywhere between Rs 90 -150 depending on the brand. Amkette and Sony are the popular brands in this category.

Online methods

i. Online briefcases

Websites like Yahoo provide you with an online briefcase service which is free of cost. You can store data up-to 30 MB. You can access this data anytime by using your Yahoo ID.

This offers tremendous mobility since you can access all your files online and can therefore work pretty much out of anywhere. All you would need is an internet connection.

You can simply upload your files to your briefcase and then email your friend a message with a link and instructions to download that file. You no longer have to wait to upload or download through your e-mail programme.

ii. E-mails

Another very cost effective way to store basic files. This is ideal for Word documents or Excel files.

Create a separate folder within your mail account and put all your important documents in there.

Alternatively, you can create an exclusive e-mail account like – and copy all your important files to this ID. Gmail offers you up to 2GB of free space and you can store all your files in there. You can also use the search feature to locate an important file.

Do you have any ideas/tips/shortcuts on how to create a backup? Post your suggestions.

Part II: Create a backup for your cell phone

Sunder works as a trainer with a leading global BPO and can be reached at

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Sunder Ramachandran