So, after she told me that, I decided to attempt to recover the data. I hooked up my hard drive with an external USB connector that allowed to me to see some of the data but not all of it. I recovered most of the pictures that she saved but the rest of the hard drive was corrupt. She is happy and now I will discuss what I should have done from the start:
1) Backup data regularly! This is essential for critical data such as financial and personal documents. There are multiple ways to backup data and for the sake time, I would recommend for starters, just use an external USB hard drive.
2) Backup your backup data regularly! What does this mean? It basically means to keep multiple hard drive backups. Why, because that shiny new external drive that you just purchased could go bad at any time too. So the best way to keep your data safe is to have multiple backups available.
3) Take advantage of free online hard drive backup options. There are multiple online backup sites these days so I will just recommend a few that I have heard of that again are FREE up to a certain amount of data. If you want to back up a huge chunk of hard drive data, you will have to cough up some cash to do so with these sites.
***Warning*** Never use an online site to backup certain critical data if you do not feel comfortable that your data will be safe or not. (Most) of these companies do encrypt the data that they backup but it is online and using their storage servers so just be careful on what you decide to backup. A website that I would recommend is Sugarsync. They accomplish the following:
It will automatically synchronize/backup your documents and has the security features below:
- Files are transmitted encrypted (128 bit AES) via SSL using a once only key.
- At the SugarSync end they are stored encrypted on one server and the keys stored on another.
- The keys are random and not generated from email addresses.
- Keys are accessible to some SugarSync employees, hence also files could be provided by SugarSync in response to a court order or search warrant.
- There is no encryption key stored on your computer.
You just select folders to be synced using check boxes and exclude sub folders not to be synced. For those wanting a special folder like Dropbox (another popular option), SugarSync also provides one called Magic Briefcase and there is a non-synced Web Archive.
In the end, Dell replaced my hard drive under warranty since it was less than 3 years old, but recovering all of my data would have cost me anywhere between $300-$2,000 depending on how bad the condition of the drive is.
What do you use for data backups? Would you consider using an online backup solution?