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Ready for disaster?

Are you ready for the worst case scenario?

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Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some
of the many questions I get at

OK, I know we all get tired of hearing it, but we all need reminding, so I’m
going to ask it again: are you backed up?

Seems like not a day goes by where I don’t get a question that boils down to
“I’ve lost all my data, what can I do?” Learn a hard lesson, that’s what you
can do.

I honestly don’t care how you back things up. I’ve said before that
backup strategies are like exercise programs: the best one is whatever one
you’ll actually use. Be it a one button stock backup program to an external
drive, or a complex network of machines and perl scripts such as I run, you
need something.

Take a look at each machine you have, and ask yourself this question: what
happens if this machine dies. I mean really dies … the data on it is
totally unrecoverable; every hard disk is gone. If the answer is anything more
than a minor annoyance, you really need to look at what you’re doing.

You must back up, or you will be sorry. Take it from someone who’s learned
that lesson the hard way long ago.

Do you have a website or dedicated server at a hosting company? What happens
if that hard disk goes up in smoke? Or the server is compromised and
erased? Are you covered? Will your business be crippled, and if so, for how

You’re not done yet. For each on-line service you use, ask yourself a
similar question: what if that service went away, or you permanently lost
access? Annoyance or disaster? Think about photo sharing services, social
networking sites, or IM services. Would you lose contacts or important

I recommend strongly against using most free services as the sole repository
for critical information because I have lots of horror stories of people losing
contacts, resumes, college applications and even masters thesis because their
free email account was hacked. That simply shouldn’t happen, all of that should
be backed up on a local computer or on some other server.

Now I know many of you are you the technical go-to person for friends,
family members and others. Even if you’re totally backed up yourself, ask these
questions on their behalf and help them set up some kind of backup or disaster

Let’s face it – you know exactly who it is they’ll go-to when (not if) that
disaster eventually happens.

I’d love to hear what you think. Visit ask leo dot info, and enter 10433 in
the go to article number box. Leave a comment, I read them all.

This is a presentation of, a free on-line technical question and
answer service. Hundreds of questions and answers are online and ready to help
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8 comments on “Ready for disaster?”

  1. Symantec.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought Norton Systemworks/GoBack and Firewall bundles. I actually estimate the $100(est.) software price tag into purchases of new PCs for customers, simply because of the amount of protection the firewall offers (helps keep PC clean), yet alone SystemWork/GoBack’s incredible abilities to restore and backup PC data. Computer was working 5 minutes ago? No problem. GoBack actually lets you browse your history (no joke) and restore to whatever point and time, including to safe points. Trying a new proggy? Use SafeTry which allows you to keep installations, or safely remove them (great for pulling AOL files off their 9.0 software which is impossible to remove).

    So why get Norton Systemworks/Firewall?

    SystemWorks helps to optimize performance (like uninstalling messenger if you want), and even offers AutoGoBack to restore your PC to the same point everytime you reboot (great for PC labs). Antivirus? Check. You can even configure Scheduled Tasks to run the antivirus and “one button checkup” to run for your customers, so they don’t have to worry about it (just leave the PC on).

    Oh, did I mention their firewall? Great stuff. Spam protection doesn’t hurt either.

    If you’re worried about backup, get GoBack. It’s a must. If you want performance and safety, go for SystemWorks (includes GoBack). Want to reduce the amount of home visits? Get SystemWorks/Firewall. Heck, you can even lock them out of control panel if you’d like. ;-)

  2. I feel I should post something to provide an alternative viewpoint to somewhat counter the perception that large companies can get free advertising (“So why get Norton Systemworks/Firewall?” Let me tell you…”) by having employees post to computer support blogs.

    >the amount of protection the firewall offers
    >(helps keep PC clean)…

    The original firewall included with Windows XP was inadequate, but the one in SP2 is actually pretty good, and certainly adequate for the vast majority of uses. If you think you need more protection (or run an older edition of Windows) there are numerous options, e.g. Zonealarm, which are not only free but by all accounts are more streamlined and use less system resources than Norton.
    I do not think it necessary to point out how “helps keep PC clean” is misleading.

    >GoBack actually lets you browse your history (no
    >joke) and restore to whatever point and time,
    >including to safe points.

    I like the “no joke”, but I hardly need to point out that this functionality for system files has been built into Windows for quite a few years, in the form of “System restore” (yes, even browsing history and restoring to a specific time). Admittedly this only covers system files rather than all data and documents as GoBack does, but by far the most likely way of losing your data and documents is if your hard drive dies, in which case GoBack, as it stores recovery info on your hard drive, will not help one bit. You’d do far better to use System restore to guard against corruption of system files, and back up your data and docs properly to an external medium, as Leo recommends.

    >(great for pulling AOL files off their 9.0
    >software which is impossible to remove).

    The irony is that Norton products are notorious for being impossible to completely remove. Indeed, there is almost a whole community built around trying to create a program that properly removes it, and only very recently have Symantec themselves actually had a go, producing their own removal tool ( Their 2006 version, incidentally, is no better than their last, and still won’t remove properly with “Add/remove programs”.

    >SystemWorks helps to optimize performance (like
    >uninstalling messenger if you want)

    You mean I can pay for a piece of software to do what it would take me 10 seconds with Windows “Add/remove programs” (if you meant MSN Messenger) or services.msc (if you meant Messenger service)? Where do I sign up?

    >Antivirus? Check.

    Precisely the same comments re: Norton firewall apply here: there are better, more streamlined products that use less system resources (and uninstall themselves without leaving dross all over your system) available for free; such as Grisoft AVG antivirus (free edition).

    >You can even configure Scheduled Tasks to run
    >the antivirus

    If this is true, this would make Norton antivirus the only product on the market where you have to configure this functionality instad of it being available by default.

    >Oh, did I mention their firewall? Great stuff.

    Yes. Yes, yes you did. In fact, so did I.

    >Spam protection doesn’t hurt either.

    According to my sources, Norton Antispam uses a combination of blacklist, whitelist, keyword search, and Baysian filtering. You know, just like every other antispam program that’s ever existed. Many of which are open source, and thus free; not to mention the usual: more streamlined, less system resources, easier to uninstall etc.

    >If you’re worried about backup, get GoBack. It’s
    >a must.

    Again, I emphasise that it will do nothing whatsoever against a hard disk failure. Meanwhile, if a system is rendered unbootable as a result of corrupt OS files, System restore is perfectly suitable. This limits the usefulness of Goback to recovering data that will be lost if you trip, fall on the keyboard, accidentally delete one or more important files, empty the recycle bin, initiate a disk defragmentation, and remain unconcious throughout it. In which case you could just recover your data from the external backup you should have made anyway in case of hard disk failure.

    >If you want performance and safety, go for

    The same Systemworks that is legendarily unstable (see for some examples; Google for many more)?

    >Heck, you can even lock them out of control
    >panel if you’d like. ;-)

    Excellent idea! Then they won’t even be able to attempt to uninstall Norton with the Add/remove programs applet — even if it doesn’t work anyway.

    Oh well, I think I’ve made my point. Good day, all.

  3. You talk about back up, I have photo’s I don’t want to lose. How do I get them on a C.D or save them.??
    Mrs. Libby

  4. If you have a CD burner, it should have come with software that will allow you to copy those images to a CD-ROM. Exactly how varies, but I recommend looking into the software’s instructions for how to create a “data CD”, and copying your images that way. It’s what I do.

    And if you don’t have a CD burner, naturally I recommend you get one. A CD/DVD burner actually – they’re not terribly expensive.

  5. Two things: I will close this thread if things continue to be personal/insulting. There’s no need, and it weakens any legitmate points that might be made.

    Second (a pet peeve): “allows a user to TURN BACK TIME (literally)” No. Please look up the definition of “literally”. No time machines have yet been devised. Again, this kind of thing weakens the points you may be trying to make.

  6. Dark Oz is super correct on this one. You cannot get up to date accurate anti-virus without someone updating and monitoring the current stream of viruses all-the-time. And if you want them to do their job well, you have to pay them. And Norton has taken protection to a new level by integrating all the features that you need into one compatible package. So in conclusion, using a variety of free or ingrained to Windows anti-virus, firewall, spam blockers and system restores is nowhere near comparable to one coherent package of programs and features that are designed by one company with the best and the brightest network specialists in the business. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how many people ask me to fix their computer and I have to tell them no, not till they get a subscription with either Norton or McAphee, allow me to wipe their hard drive and then talk about maybe saving some of the information that they’ve corrupted. And that’s the truth, if you don’t use an electronic “condom” on the internet, it is your fault that you have caught diseases. The only thing Norton doesn’t do absolutely the best is spyware, probably because spyware too much resembles programs a user might want. Use Spybot by Patrick Kolla for that, or AdAware by Lava. Look at it this way, Norton is the castle that keeps out the badguys, and Spybot keeps your guests in check. Anyway, that was fun, have a good wandschranking weekend ya’ll! Happy Am-ur-ica day!

  7. I Hate Norton Software!!! Why in the world do you have to tell the firewall time after time after time again and again to not let the same dang program not have outbound access
    ? Shouldn’t once be enough?


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