Monday, December 13, 2010

Rollbacks, backups and restorations

Just a few notes on being cautious and careful with your data... because if you lose it, it's gone! Of course you can lose anything - including your keys, your dreams and/or your self-respect - but I'm thinking digital. With the ongoing conversion of "things" into binary digits - or "bits" - it's easy to overlook the potential for loss of data.

So here are some tips:

Hard drives fail, often suddenly. So make backups. To do this, firstly file your digital documents and images in logical spots (so you can find them easily without a hunt) then do a back up onto a different device. A backup can be as simple as a copy - onto a flash drive, a web drive, a DVD or an external HDD - or can be via backup software. As long as it's done - and works (ie test it occasionally) - it may save you from some grievous digital loss.

You can also make complete images of your working PC setup using "ghosting" or imaging software. A 'belts and braces' approach to data backup and recovery may include regular backups onto external hardware plus a working "image" of your PC or other device (again, stored externally). Sounds too hard? Get someone to do it for you.

Programs and drivers sometimes screw up, too: or "what works today may not work tomorrow". It could be that some data was re-written but was unintentionally distorted in the process, or a new program or OS update overwrote a critical shared file and left your older software out of action. It happens. So prepare for that with new system restore point (a link below on how to do that in XP, it's similar in most popular operating systems). That way you can "roll back" to a previous, working state. Often software (such as device driver updates) offer "rollbacks" as standard, in case of drama. But if they don't - and the new driver has killed something you rely upon - you need a restore point.

And remember to do the occasional test restoration, so that you know it works!

Using System Restore in XP - How-To Geek
Windows is well-known for having driver and .dll conflicts, as well as all sorts of software that causes problems with your computer. Luckily there’s a System restore feature that can return your computer back to a known working configuration, as long as you’ve created a restore point.

Note that some software installations will create restore points automatically, but you should run it manually before installing any questionable applications. (Or better yet, don’t install questionable applications!)