From bobrankin@MHV.NET Sun Feb  8 00:33:47 1998
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 18:14:02 -0500
From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS - 27 Jan 1998 - Better Backups

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        TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC:  A Better Way To Backup

Everyone knows you're supposed to brush your teeth, wear a seatbelt, and
back up your hard drive.  But my recent survey of 1000 users around the
world shows that less than 20% do regular backups.  You'd need about
1400 floppy disks to backup a 2 gigabyte hard drive, so clearly that's
not the right answer.  But fortunately there are several new options
that make backup almost painless.

But before I preach my little backup sermon, take a few minutes to
explore Intel's way-cool CONNECTED PC site.  They're sponsoring today's
TOURBUS issue, and it's definitely worth a visit.

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<---> <--->

A few years back, I lost five years of my life (or perhaps brain is a
better word) when my 80MB hard drive bit the dust, and I vowed it would
never happen again.  I bought a tape drive, and boy was I glad when my
2.5 gig drive made that freight-train-running-over-used-car-lot noise
the day before Christmas.

Depending on your budget, the size of your hard disk and your computer
usage habits, there are a variety of new devices on the market that can
keep your data safe and even open up some new possibilities for data
sharing.  The basic options are tape drives, removable hard drives, and
online backup systems.  Let's take a look at each.


If you want backup on a budget, go with a tape drive.  For about $150,
you can get a tape backup unit that'll pack away 2 gigabytes or more in a
single gulp.  Since tape drives store your data on removable cartridges,
it's a good idea to choose one that can handle your entire hard disk on
one cartridge.

I like my Iomega Ditto 2GB tape drive, because it's reliable and comes
with friendly software that allows me to do automatic nightly backups.
Every Sunday, I get a full backup of all my data, and each weekday any
files that are new or changed get added to the tape.

One drawback of tape drives is that you can't access the stored data
like regular files on a hard drive.  To list the files on a tape or
restore them to disk, you have to use the tape drive software.  The
access speed is also a lot slower than a hard drive, or the removable
drives we'll delve into next.

Colorado, Seagate and Exabyte also make highly-rated tape drives, so
shop around and find the price and storage capacity that suits you best.
Whatever drive you choose, it's not a lot to pay for peace of mind.

   Iomega Corporation
   Seagate Technology
   Exabyte Corporation
   HP Colorado   


Removable hard drives such as the popular Iomega Zip offer the
familiarity of a normal hard drive, and have the added benefit that you
can easily plug them into another computer.  Once installed, these
drives act just like a second hard drive (a D: drive on the PC, or a new
folder on the Mac) and you can list, save, copy and delete files with
your usual commands or programs.

Each Zip disk can hold 100MB of data, which is small when compared to
the capacity of tape media, but with direct access to files and transfer
rates of 1.4MB per second (five or six times faster than tapes) you make
the call.  A Zip drive will set you back about $150 and the disks
usually cost $15 or so.

Alternatives to the Zip drive include the Syquest EzFlyer ($150), which
uses 230MB removable disks, and the Avatar Shark ($199) which sports a
250MB capacity.  Both the EzFlyer (2.4MB/sec) and the Shark (2.0MB/sec)
are a bit faster than the Zip, but the larger cartridges are about twice
as expensive as Zip disks.  For larger capacity, Iomega's Jaz drive and
the Syquest SyJet both can handle 1GB on a single removable disk and
cost about $300.

   Iomega Corporation
   Syquest Technologies
   Avatar Peripherals


The newest kid on the backup scene is the online variety.  The idea here
is that you use your modem to send all your data to a safe repository
somewhere in cyberspace.  You don't have to invest in or install new
hardware, there are no disks to fool with, and you needn't worry about
capacity.  Online backup systems such as @Backup, Atrieva and Safeguard
charge a monthly fee to stash your data, ranging from $15 to $30.

There are some very appealing aspects of online backup.  Not having any
upfront expense for drives or media is a big one, as is the fact that
you can retrieve your files from any Internet-capable PC in the world.
Security is not a concern, since your data is encrypted before leaving
your PC, and it's protected with a
password that only you know.  Supposedly even the technical support
people who run these backup operations cannot access your data.

One downside to online backup is that it's as slow as your modem.  Even
with a 56K modem, you can only pump a pitiful 7-10 KB/sec over a regular
phone line.  At that rate, it would take a several days to backup a 2GB
disk.  So instead of a full system backup, a better idea is to identify
important data files for backup and just reinstall the programs if you
suffer a disk crash.  And eventually, that $15 a month is going to
exceed the cost of a conventional tape or removable drive system.
   Safeguard Interacive


There are tradeoffs a-plenty when deciding which backup strategy to use.
If you want data security at a reasonable price and speed is not a big
concern, go for a tape drive.  If quick access to files and portability
of data is important to you, the higher priced removable media devices
make sense.  And if you have no money to invest upfront, or the thought
of hooking up any new piece of hardware is scary, try one of the online
backup services.

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See you next time!  --Bob Rankin

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