Table of Contents

Introduction

We encourage:

 

We discourage:

  Memory Sticks

 

  a:\ disks, a.k.a. 3" floppy disks

  Zip Drives

 

  CDs

  Cyberspace

 

 

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Introduction
Below you will find a discussion of the relative merits of various backup devices.

However, even before you start reading it, please keep in mind your blood oath to back up after every single session, no matter what
!!  You must do this !!

And also remember to have three (yes, three)  rotating copies of your data.  Two safe at home, one at work.  You can rotate them every 14 days, or every 28 days, something like that.


Think about it:  You are protecting yourself against computer failures, coffees spills, temper tantrums, burglaries, vandalism, power surges, earthquakes and volcanoes.  Unless you have a safe, remotely stored set of your data, you are not protected.  Moreover, it is possible that WinPower will be your software package for your entire career.  That gives Murphy's Rule plenty of time to gestate.

It is ironic, but true...  Those who make the most preparations about backup seem to have the least happen to them in the way of computer problems, while those who are the most confident, and let things slip are the ones who are left scrambling.

And if you are backed up, you are catastrophe-proof.  You can go the Principal's Office, the Computer Room, the Library in the school (or perhaps any classroom in the school), or the library down the block, or the Custodian across the street, or home, or use your laptop, your secretary's computer (if you have a secretary, and your secretary has a computer), and so forth.

But if you are not backed up, there is nothing anyone can do for you, no matter how highly motivated not Microsoft, nor Intel, with all their technology, nor us...
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The discussion:


We recommend any of three types of back up methods:
    -1) Memory Sticks;
    -2) Zip drives; and
    -3) Cyberspace


Memory sticks are very, very new, and they are great.  I predict that before long, all of us will be using them...

They are teeny-tiny, but store extravagantly.  Our own memory sticks are one-eight of an inch thick, 1.5" long and .75 inches wide, and they store 128 Megabytes.

They are so far reliable.

They are very, very fast.

Their cost is quite a value.  A quick search yielded prices of $38 for 128MB.  But of course you will have to shop around on your own.  A 64MB stick is good for your entire WinPower career, but they don't make them that small anymore, anyway..  I think the cost of the drive (actually called a "Reader"), is now about $15.

Some disadvantages to consider:

They are so small, they are easily lost.  One client lost one already. (!)  Another put his through the wash.

To my knowledge (and I am not sure about this), they only work internally, or with USB Ports, so older computers are disqualified.

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Zip drives are an old, potentially universal and reliable backup method:

The smallest zip disk is 100MB, and that is good enough for your career twice over.

They are so fast, you will forget that you did back up.

The company that manufactures them (Iomega) is an excellent company that provides easy, friendly and fast tech support.

If you get an external Zip Drive with a parallel cable, it will work with every computer you own, every computer you have ever owned, every computer you will ever own, and all your friends computers, too.

The cost is reasonable the initial purchase of the drive is anywhere from $35 to $100, and each disk is about $10.

Iomega isn't the only company or product of this ilk.  There are Jazz Drives, and many others that have solid reputations.  If you ask me, I will say go Iomega, only because my experience is limited to them.

Some disadvantages to consider:

If you get an internal zip drive, it will be less universal than an external.  In the event of an emergency, you might have a hard time finding another computer that can utilize your disks.

The 100MB Zip Drive is hard to find.  The only way to buy it might be through Iomega's web site.  And they only do credit card purchases, which may be something you are not interested in doing.

There are some compatibility issues between drive size and disk size.  That is why I strongly recommend an external drive with a parallel port if you choose to use Zip disks.

The footprint of an external drive is about 7" x 5" which may be considered too large in the near future.

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Cyberspace

You can attach your database to an email, and email it to yourself, or to a friend.

If you already have an email account, it is free.  You don't need to buy anything; you don't need to think about it.

If you have AOL, it will sit in cyberspace until you delete it (or for around 30 days, I think more than you need) and you need not ever download it.

You are not reliant upon (acquiring) additional equipment.

In the event of an emergency, it would probably be easier to scare up somebody who is on-line than anything else.

Some disadvantages to consider:

You might well have to email your data to someone with an ISP other than Yahoo as their mail box capacity is small.

Many ISPs might not accept the backup files.  These might include MSN, hotmail, and the Board.

Many email packages delete or "block" our type of databases automatically.  However, this can/must/might be able to be fixed.  See the link to the right, entitled: "Blocked Email Attachments".

It is very labor-intensive compared to the other methods of backup.

If you do not have AOL as your ISP, then every time you check your email, your database will be downloaded, and possibly deleted from your ISP's server.

The antidote to this is to make emailing your database to yourself the last thing you do at work before powering down, and making sure to pick up your email at another computer preferably your home computer.

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We discourage the use of:
    -1) a:\ disks, a.k.a. 3" floppy disks; and
    -2) CDs;


Why we discourage using a:\ disks, a.k.a. 3" floppy disks:

They are notoriously unreliable.  They can fail right out of the box, or a week, or a month, or a year, or a decade later.  And whenever you discover that it has failed, it is a real bummer, to be sure. (!)

They are in the process of being discontinued and unsupported.  They are just about obsolete.

They are just about the smallest backup device there is, with a capacity of only 1.44 Megabytes (MB).

Because they have such a small capacity, they can get filled up and become too small for your WinPower database.  Unless you move up to another method, you will find that you cannot backup at all, and just stop.  Then you are really vulnerable.

The a:\ drive has the most amount of moving parts per square inch of your computer, and they are such an old technology, that it is the slowest moving component in your computer and it concerns what is absolutely the most critical automation function you have.

As time goes by, it really begins to take a long, arduous amount of time.  And because one can hear it grinding unpleasantly as one works. one tends to start skipping backup.  At fist, occasionally, then soon every other time, then before long, for months at a time.  This is a recipe for disaster.

If you do use a:\ disks to perform backup:

Have a rotation that uses more than two sets of disks.  Best to have at least 4 sets.

Never back up more than one school to the same disk.

Do not store anything else on these WinPower back up disks.

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CDs
Unless you really know what you are doing, and have verified that your backups are working by "Testing Backup" from our first screen we discourage using CDs, a.k.a. Compact Disks:

The technology changes so much, and so quickly, that a CD that was used to archive data on your new computer might freeze last year's computer, and vice-versa. (!)

The 850 Megabyte capacity is alluring, but when you format it to archive data, the capacity falls below 650 megabytes less than the largest of the zip drives.

650 Megabytes is way overkill for your WinPower needs.  In your entire career, if you have very large schools, and use every facet of WinPower, your data storage needs will never exceed 50 megabytes.

The CD software and hardware manufacturers are in hot pursuit of the audio, visual and graphics market, and will continue to change the technologies without a care in the world or a second thought about business users.  They are not really interested in the business archiving market, and it shows.

There are so many different hardware and software manufacturers, and so many different protocols, and such weak support, that your backup might not be working, and you wouldn't even know it.  Most commonly, you might have asked for and paid for the kind of hardware and software that allows for re-writable archiving, but might not have received it.

And, worse still, your multiple archiving attempts might be failing, and you won't even know it at least not until you need to recover your data which you will find is the same version as what you backed the first time you used it, perhaps over a year ago.

This has happened to a few clients, and even though we here at The 2M Corporation knew about this phenomenon, it happened to us.  We admit it.

CDs are not the most space efficient backup medium anymore.  Compared to the Memory Stick, they are gigantic.

We have heard many instances of CDs getting scratched, and hanging up the whole computer when used.

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