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Regular Hard Disk Maintenance Prevents Problems
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By Robert Moskowitz

When was the last time you tried to operate your computer without a hard disk? It's no fun, particularly once you have set up batch files, subdirectories, path statements, and utility programs to speed up and facilitate the work you do with the computer.

All these useful tools and shortcuts generally operate from your hard disk, which also contains most or all of your important data and your portfolio of application programs. If the hard disk goes out, your computer changes from a highly efficient and effective business tool to a clunky, bulky, demanding piece of plastic and metal.

Because I've experienced a number of hard disk breakdowns in recent weeks--my own and those of some clients--I'm highly sensitive to the dangers. I'd like you to become aware of them, too, because they are relatively easy to prevent. It's even easier to mitigate the damage a hard disk problem can cause--provided you take the right steps before it happens.

Need For Back Up

There are two kinds of hard disks in use today: those that have already gone down, and those that are about to go down. Whichever one you rely on, it's wise to protect yourself against the most likely kinds of problems.

The most obvious way to protect against hard disk failure is to makefrequent back-up copies of your data and applications. This is as necessary (and should be as automatic) as paying for insurance on your car or business equipment. Yet millions of computer users do back-ups so infrequently, they're seriously hurt when the hard disk falters.

Today, there are dozens of hardware devices and software programs on the market that make back-ups a simple, speedy, and virtually automatic process. At the least, get a copy of Fast Back (from Fifth Generation Systems) or an equivalent program, and make an immediate copy of your entire hard disk. Then make weekly (or if you're lazy, monthly) copies of all the changed files on your disk. If you prefer, get a treaming tape drive with software to do the back-up automatically at regular intervals. With a recent back-up tucked safely away, a hard disk problem is nothing more than an inconvenience, and possibly a small expense to replace or repair the broken unit. Without a good back-up in storage, however, a hard disk problem is a disaster that can shut down your business and cost you many thousands of dollars in wasted time, duplication of effort, and client or customer dissatisfaction.

Need for Hard Disk Maintenance

Your hard disk needs regular maintenance, just like your car and your business equipment. Did you think it would work perfectly forever? Unlike most machinery, however, hard disk problems are rarely physical. More often, they're caused by software--and they can be prevented, or if necessary, fixed, the same way. You can do hard disk maintenance yourself, for free! Just be sure you (or people you designate) do it regularly.



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Robert Moskowitz is a consultant.
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