CDs Or DVDs: Shield From The Storm

DVD, against computer gradient background
It's rare for me to write on the same general topic three times in a month, but recent disasters in the Gulf Coast have kept the subject of backing up data on the front burner. As millions of Americans can now testify, having access to our possessions – including precious data such as family photos – is not something we can take for granted.

Of course, computer data is trivial compared to human life but it's arguably as important as any of your physical possessions. Furniture can be replaced, but family photos, tax records, correspondence and all those other data files on your PC are irreplaceable unless they're backed up. This is especially important for photographs now that many people are using digital cameras. Unlike traditional photos, it's not hard to backup digital photos so there really is no reason not to be protected.

And, of course, you don't have to be a potential hurricane victim to be concerned about losing data. Everyone lives in a potential disaster area and even if that never happens, there is always the real possibility of your hard drive failing or data being destroyed as a result of a computer glitch, malicious software or user error.

As hurricanes continue to ravage the Gulf Coast, backing up data remains a crucial consideration. Larry Magid talks to David Bunzel, President of the Optical Storage Technology Association about the advantages of copying your important data files to CDs or DVDs.

In previous columns I've talked about software and hardware solutions such as using a mirroring program to create an exact image of your disk, using an external USB drive to conveniently backup or using an online service like @Backup to back up your data to the Internet.

CDs and DVDs

A simple and inexpensive solution is to copy your important data files to CDs or DVDs. One advantage of this strategy, according to David Bunzel, President of the Optical Storage Technology Association is that CDs and DVDs, while not impervious to damage, are less likely to fail in the case of water damage. Also, it's relatively easy to make an extra copy of a DVD or CD.

Keep one with your equipment and mail the other to a friend or relative – preferably out of town. I just backed up my thousands of family digital photos to two DVDs and mailed them to a friend of mine. I shutter at the thought, but if anything were to happen to my home, at least our precious photos would be safe. I don't live in hurricane country but California does have earthquakes and, of course, fires.