That is a question for which we would all like a nice lengthy answer and Bob Rankin, whose newsletter I subscribe to, has it in this issue. Viruses are sneaky things that screw up our lives via our computers – and the following link (which goes to Bob’s site) tells you different ways in which they can breeze into your computer, whether you want them or not. No – who would want them? Ugh.
A couple of months ago the external hard drive on which I had backed up all my data crashed because of a virus. I had used it as a back up disk because I upgraded my OS with a clean install.
Fancy my amazement when I sat proudly in front of my shiny new OS, grandly prepared to copy all the backed up data back into nicely organized drives, to find a couple of folders with chinese looking names! Of course they wouldn’t open. If they did, they’d look like gibberish. I was shocked, because that folder was supposed to have hundreds of sub-folders with over 300 GB of data.
After much heartache and headache, I managed to get in touch with a data recovery services guy via a friend and…. so I recovered the data (at a price, of course), but I would never wish that to happen again – to any one!
So here we go – Bob’s article tells you about the common ways viruses can enter your computer – and it is obvious what you can do to prevent it. Read it here: Why Did My Computer Get a Virus?
But here are my take aways for saving your data from a trip to no-man’s land, because it is does not leave a forwarding address.
- Once a week, copy your stuff on to a DVD. DVDs are cheap and a fairly reliable way to back up. Even if your disk crashes, you’ll minimize the data lost. Granted you can retrieve it, but retrieval is expensive.
- Google Docs has loads of space to upload all your files (now – even folder uploading is enabled there). Ok – you need to create a gmail account, but that’s a three second job. In fact – it even makes sense to have more than one gmail account for various things.
- One of the things that made me miserable about that data crash was the fact that I had five years’ worth of digital photography – including loads of home videos of Vidur growing up and thousands of photographs of events, functions, wonderful moments – that can never be rewinded or reproduced. Ok – so I am no Darren Rowse – but still! Moral of the story – upload your photos regularly to some place like Picasa or Flickr or whatever works for you. The kind of stupid I felt when it dawned on me that my entire data was lost is something I’d never wish on anyone, no matter what. Errrgh!
And oh – make sure you:
- Have a reliable anti-virus program in place and update it regularly. Now, don’t laugh. I know someone who actually has it set to manual updates, and hits cancel when it sometimes pops up asking for permission to update.
- Whatever OS you use, enable automatic security updates.
- Keep that firewall up!
That’s it for now. Life goes on, regardless.
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