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Back it up ... or else; protect your files now with a disaster-prevention plan.

Few things are worse in computing than a hard disk crashing. It could destroy days, months, even years of hard work. It is essential to implement a plan for regularly backing up your hard drive to avoid such a loss.

"If your computer is important to you, then not backing up your files is courting disaster," says Herb Hauser, president of Barnes Wentworth, a New York-based computer consulting firm. Avoid tragedies by choosing a backup system that works for you and your business.

The answer could be as simple as regularly backing up files on an inexpensive floppy disc, which can cost less than a dollar, or as pricey as using highly sophisticated magneto optical drives, which cost about $2,000.

If your computer is networked, you can protect your work by having it backed up on the server," the computer that is the heart of the networked system.

For those who need more than a floppy and who are not on a network, a tape backup is a common solution. The tape drive can be installed inside your computer or attached to your parallel port. Tapes can hold as little as a few hundred megabytes to as much as 4 gigabytes of compressed data. The devices cost anywhere from $150 to $1,000, while the tapes range in cost from $11 to $40. The biggest drawback to a tape system is that, like your VCR, you'll have to run through the tape to find the file you want.

CD technology offers a faster but more expensive solution. It allows you to jump from one track to another to find what you're looking for, like an audio compact disc. But the unit costs at least $1,700, and discs, which hold about 650 megabytes of data, are about $20 each. Consequently, a CD backup system is best for people who need information saved indefinitely.

Similar to CDs, magneto optical drives allow you to overwrite your files and jump from track to track. A 3 1/2-inch MO disk costs between $50 and $150, with the machines running it priced anywhere from $400 to $1,000. A 5 1/2-inch MO disk runs between $80 and.$150, while the drives cost between $1,000 and $2,500. The MOs can save up to 4 gigabytes.

Then there is the Lexus of data protection. For a lot of money (could be hundreds of thousands of dollars a month) you can use data banking, a third-party data collection firm that stores backup files. If security is really a concern, you can have the protection of storing copies of all your most sensitive data off-site. In a data bank, your files are downloaded in electronic vaults. The main problem with this system is that it is expensive and only works as fast as the communications system between you and your data bank.

Those looking for a tape backup drive might consider the Backpack 800TD from Micro Solutions Inc. ($169; 800-890-7227). The external IBM-based unit uses quarter-inch cartridge (QIC) tapes and can store up to 800 megabytes of data. It easily hooks up to the parallel port of any computer and has a pass-through port to accommodate your printer.

Pinnacle Micro offers one of the few portable magneto optical drives, the Tahoe-230 ($699; 800-553-7070). The lightweight unit uses a 372-hour battery and 230 MB optical cartridges. Pinnacle also makes recordable CD-ROM drives that can be used for data storage, such as Macintosh compatible RCD-1000 ($1,449).

Zip drives are the newest backup systems that have become popular. These mini-drives are usually limited to 100 MB of space, but their high speed makes up for their small size. The Iomega Zip Drive ($199; 800-777-6654) not only allows you to back up your data, but you can launch and run software from the drive as well. However, the Windows and System 7 compatible drive does have an odd quality: It lacks an on/off switch, so you must unplug it to turn it off.

No matter what method you use to back up your files, make it a regular habit to set up an automatic backup process. This will spare you hours of hassle later, and remember, no system works unless you keep your backups in a safe place.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Lloyd, Fonda Marie
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Buyers Guide
Date:Feb 1, 1996
Words:712
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