While data loss can occur on a perfectly maintained computer system, poor operating conditions are a leading cause of hardware failures and other catastrophic events. You can often prevent data loss by taking appropriate precautions when setting up your computer.
The tips below will help you extend the life of your media and avoid simple errors that could result in lost, deleted, or corrupt files. However, remember that regular backup is the only way to completely prevent data loss.
Backup – Data can usually be easily duplicated. It is important to make backups of all of your most important data, documents, and programs.
Shut-Down – Be sure to properly shut down your computer. All data should be saved and applications closed before the operating system is shut down. After doing so, you can safely turn off your computer. Even though the computer may appear idle, there are often many tasks still in progress and a computer should not be turned off unless the proper steps are followed.
Viruses – Take steps to protect yourself from computer viruses. It is likely that in the near future a virus will spread that has the ability to actually destroy your hard drive. Keep a virus detection program on your computer.
System Protection – Keep your computer safe from human error (children, computer illiterates, etc.). Use passwords on important programs or files to help prevent accidental erasure.
Equipment – Here are some examples of equipment that can help prevent data loss.
- Place a cooling fan within 4 inches of the hard disk and in a position where it will force air directly onto the drive. This can reduce the operating temperature by as much as 112º F!
- Use an un-interruptible power supply with a built-in line noise filter. We recommend using APC UPS supplies. Using one of these will also eventually save other equipment in your system.
- Install more RAM into your system. This will prevent the system from accessing the hard disk as “cache.” We recommend 128MB for Windows 98 or earlier versions of Mac OS, and 256MB for Windows NT, 2000, Linux, Unix, and Mac OS 8.1 or greater.
- Use a shock-absorbing hard disk mounting device, available at most computer shops, or from Datarecovery.com @ $34 a piece.
Abuse – Although this may seem like common sense, it is important to be gentle with your computer. Avoid moving the computer while it is in use. The components inside the computer are very precise and jostling them may cause data loss or failure.