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Tips for the Geek at Home

Read On, Geek!

In Recovery

If your spouse isn't backing up his or her data reliably and regularly, expect to suffer through a protracted data-recovery session, complete with wailing (your spouse's) and teeth-gnashing (yours). But don't overcompensate by treating it like a data-center problem. Resist the urge to set up your spouse with a tape drive, tape rotation, success-and-failure-logs and so on. The bottom line is that tape backup comes with too many moving parts and overhead for the typical home user. If tapes cost $35 apiece, your spouse isn't likely to rotate them that often, causing incremental problems. One Network Computing reader tells us he set his mother up with a tape system, but she never changed the tape or checked the logs. When it came time to restore her data, the then-defective tape in the drive was worse than having no backup at all.

CD burning is a better fit for data backup at home. There's no head-cleaning and the media is less expensive than a data tape--CD-ROM rewriteable media costs around $15 for a 25-pack compared with $20 to $80 per tape. Someone still has to change the disk eventually, and if the disk goes bad, your spouse will be calling on you or, worse, ignoring it. The good news is that CD-ROMs don't have the failure rates of tape drives and tapes.

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