Computer Guide

Backing up alternatives

by George Skarbek - 10th June 2008

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Backing up

Q: For a long time I have been backing up to CDs and DVDs and now I am considering using a USB drive that will be kept off-site. Can you tell me if there are likely to be any problems with this and are there other alternatives?

A: Backing up to a USB drive has many advantages over a DVD. Generally it is faster as you should be able to add only the new or changed files and restoration can be slightly easier. The only disadvantage is that using optical media results in having lots of CDs or DVDs as the backups would be done on a very regular basis. When using a USB drive there is a small probability that it can fail and your backups are lost. As long as this is detected before any data is lost there will be no problem but as the cost of lost data can be very high indeed, I suggest that you have two USB drive labelled odd and even days and alternate their use.

There are some other alternatives such as USB connected hard drives that are small enough to fit into a shirt pocket and will have enough capacity to have a full drive image using a product such as Acronis. In case of a hard disk failure restoration of the entire hard disk will be very fast and easy.

Yet another alternative that a business may consider is to backup to the Internet using a trustworthy source. Such a service encrypts your data and stores it in a secure data centre.  The backups occur in the background with no measurable effect on performance. Restoration of individual files or folders is quick and easy. One such reputable company is Carbonite that charges $60 pa for their service. Using Windows Explorer you can see at a glance the state of all your files. See:  for more details and have a free trial. Note that such a service requires you to have a virtually unlimited monthly plan with your ISP otherwise the excess Internet costs may be high.


Office 2007 docs

Q: We currently run our computers on Windows 2000 Pro and use Office 2000. Most of our regular contacts also use versions of Office prior to Office 2007. If we receive communication from someone using Office 2007 we cannot access it. I feel reluctant to purchase Office 2007, because of the cost and the fact that many of my contacts could not then open my attachments. What should we do?

A: There is no need to purchase Office 2007 as there is a free fix to allow you to read and write the new Office 2007 formats and it supports Word 2003, Word 2002, or Word 2000. This consists of a 27 MB Compatibility Pack for the 2007 Office patch can be downloaded from: After downloading and installing it will allow you to open all new Microsoft formats and edit some as well.



To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here