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Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

New Year’s Computer Resolutions!Computer Curmudgeon 1/2010


It’s Not Too Late for New Year’s Computer Resolutions!

Each year about 45% of adults set one or more personal goals; a quarter of those pledges are broken within the first week. Here are a few important computer related goals to ponder.

Make sure you are protected when you “surf the net” by using a regularly updated antivirus, spyware blocker, pop-up blocker, phishing detector, e-mail scanner, firewall and the latest version of your favorite internet browser. All this can be done at no cost — there are excellent free programs available in each category.

Set up and use a data backup plan. You can choose to do backups to an external hard drive or to an on-line storage service. Backups can be scheduled monthly, weekly, daily, hourly or continuously; your preference can be automatically scheduled or done manually at your discretion. If your choice has been to omit backing up, bear in mind that electronic data storage components can and do fail. Costs for attempting to recover data from a failed hard drive begin at a base charge of $200 and can reach $1000 for a 500 gigabyte hard drive. Recovery is not guaranteed. Never trust your financial and personal information to a single electronic device — redundant copies are inexpensive compared to restoration expenses or coping with complete data loss.

Have a plan to resurrect your operating system and programs in the event of disk corruption or failure. The original installation disks for each program are one possible solution. Alternatively, a restore partition can return your computer to its “out of the box” state, but neither plan will restore programs or data you have added since your computer arrived — nor can they be of any use at all if the disk has failed. Many systems now offer the ability to create restore DVDs to allow the recreation of the original state of the computer’s hard disk — at the do it yourself cost of less than $3.00, this is very cheap insurance! All of the preceding schemes will also require data restoration from backups and operating system updates. The most effective plan of all includes a disk imaging program such as Acronis True Image ($29) or Norton Ghost ($69) coupled with an external hard drive ($60-$200). The imaging program will copy all of your computer’s programs and all of your data in one step and then be able to reliably restore that copy in less than an hour and cost as little as $100.

Protect your valuable electronics and data from power surges and power failure. An inexpensive power strip surge protector will lose its protective ability in as little or one or two years. A whole house Power Quality Protection Program is available from Trico for an initial fee of $75 plus $7.95 a month for a minimum of 36 months. An uninterruptable power source (UPS) will provide both a battery backup in the event of power failure and surge protection (with damage coverage up to $100,000) at a cost of $50 to $150. Compare the cost of protection to the expense of replacement and then make an informed decision — but make that decision before the next monsoon season.

Research shows that only 12% of New Year’s resolutions are successful – I hope you can find one in this list that will help you to boost those statistics!