Do you already use your laptop as your main productivity tool?
Are you thinking of making a laptop your main productivity tool?
This blog could provide indispensible laptop tips n'trick for you if you answered yes to either of the above questions.
Many of these tips n'tricks could apply equally to PC workstations.
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Thursday, 27 March 2008

Tip - test the recoverability of your backup media/data

This may be another one of the most important and valuable tips that you ever read.
An old friend who was one of my teachers in high school had seemed to go quiet in our email exchanges recently, until I received an email from him indicating that:
(a) he had had a hard disk crash, and was currently unable to recover data from the damaged disk;
(b) his backup software had not been "properly programmed" and had not necessarily backed up (onto his external backup drive) what he thought it was backing up.

The 2nd post I had made on this blog was: Tip - backup your work data

I made the post because backing up your digital life:
  • could be very important in the event of a data loss/corruption;
  • could be very important if your living might in some way be dependent on your having access to that data;
  • could make something which might be regarded as an extreme inconvenience/disaster (loss of data) just a minor inconvenience.
However, what I did not stress in the post was that testing the recovery of the backup media/data is also important, because, after all - and, for example, as my friend seems to have discovered - backup is not of much use if you cannot actually recover it.

So, how do you ensure that you can test it, and how do you test it?
Well, ideally:
  • You should have read Tip - backup your work data., and be using a portable or semi-portable external hard drive (or two if you are paranoid - the more the merrier) for backup.
  • You should not have to be dependent on the software that performed the backup to make the recovery.
  • The backup should be in a non-proprietary, uncoded, uncompressed format - so that you can look at the backup media and recover the backed up data, using normal file management tools from any computer, just as if it was any old hard drive with your data on.
  • You should then be able to use standard/conventional file management tools (e.g., Windows Explorer, or - my favourite - xplorer²) to copy the data and test it for relevance and usability with the appropriate applications that used/created the data. By "relevance", I mean, it is a copy of vital work data, as opposed to some obscure system files (e.g., desktop.ini) which would not usually be essential to be able to continue working.

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