by Charles Zealey, from ITSOLVEOVER the past few years the volume of information we hold in electronic form has increased by many times.
Twelve years ago at ITSolve we made the decision that all business records would be held electronically.
At that time it was most unusual.
Now it is far from unusual.
At home, 10 years ago most of us still had printed photographs. Now most of our pictures are stored on the computer.
Many of us deal with domestic utility bills and other correspondence by email. Our music collections and address books are electronic.
And diaries... I could go on, but you get the idea. In many ways this has been of enormous benefit.
We can store much more information in much less space.
It is easier to access and move around.
We spend less time searching for lost paper and so on. There is, however, one problem.
If the computer storage fails the loss of information can be significant - if not crippling.
To lose your photographs or your music collection is hardly pleasant, but to lose business records is still more serious.
Information stored on computer is general held on what we call a hard disk.
Internally this is a small drum shaped object a few centimeters in diameter consisting of a number of disks coated with magnetic material which revolve at very high speed.
Electronic devices (‘heads') move in between the disks in order to read and record information.
Given the size, tolerances and complexity involved it is amazing that they work at all, let alone as reliably as they do.
None the less, they do fail from time to time.
It is estimated that a disk as a one per cent chance of failure in a year.
Old disks are more likely to fail that new ones, but even a brand new disk can fail early in its life.
It is interesting to note that disk manufacturers have been reducing warranty periods recently - often to as little as one year.
If the disk does fail a warranty will get you a new disk but it will not recreate the real value - the information stored on that disk.
All this is really just a long way of saying "Make sure you have backups of your information".
We regularly have callers looking sorrowful and asking if we can get information off a disk that has failed. Fortunately we often can, but it is expensive and troublesome.
Much better have a regular system of backups.
Next month we will look at ways of doing that.