SOURCE: Acronis

October 21, 2010 11:30 ET

Ed Benack, Chief Customer Officer of Acronis, Inc., Offers Top 5 Rules for Protecting Your Data

WOBURN, MA--(Marketwire - October 21, 2010) -  Ed Benack, Chief Customer Officer at Acronis, Inc., a leading provider of easy-to-use backup, recovery and security solutions, shares some of his rules for protecting data on your PC. 

Bad things happen to good computers. No matter careful you are, at some point in time you will lose data. The key to protecting your digital assets on the computer is to be prepared. Here are the Top 5 rules you need to know to protect yourself from permanent data loss.

RULE 1: Back up your data. Today most consumers realize that when they buy a new computer, one of the top priorities is to purchase anti-virus and anti-malware software. Often these Internet security suites are pre-installed on the computer. However, data security is like a three-legged stool and Internet security suites address only two legs. The third leg is backup software.

This is just as important for business and personal files as it is for photos, music, movies and games. Data is data, and you don't want to lose any of it. If your hard disk fails or a file becomes unreadable, you will need to recover that data. Backing up your hard disk to an external hard disk or DVD or online will permit you to restore that damaged file quickly and easily.

RULE 2: Keep your backups safe. Keeping your backup files safe will ensure you can restore your data if you need it. While companies generally store their backups off-site, that is not always possible for home users. Instead, you should consider keeping two copies of your backup -- one locally on an external hard disk drive and the other "in the cloud." The cloud is nothing more than a web site you access through your browser. Many leading backup programs give you the option of where you can save your backups; some let you back up to two locations at once. This is especially useful if you use a laptop or travel. Having your backup files on a web site makes file recovery very simple.

RULE 3: Keep it simple. If your backup software isn't easy to use, you won't use it. Many software vendors let you download a trial version so that you can get comfortable with the software before you buy it. This is a great idea and the best way to determine which product is best for you. If you can't try it before you buy it, perhaps you should consider a product you can test.

RULE 4: Practice safe computing. We've all heard the horror stories of people who opened up an e-mail attachment and accidentally downloaded a virus or clicked on a link that they thought was safe and ended up on a dangerous web site. You can protect yourself by using software tools that create safe computing environments. For example, Acronis True Image Home 2011 has a feature called Try&Decide, which lets you test software downloads, go to web sites that you're not sure are safe, or open attachments from people you don't know without putting your computer at risk. It creates a safe section on your hard disk. If the picture attachment you thought a friend sent you is really something else, like a virus-infested picture, you simply select the button to Discard Changes and Try&Decide will delete all of the changes, including any possible viruses. If everything works fine, you can Accept Changes and everything you did will be saved. Features like this make testing new software or safe browsing easy.

Of course, this is not the only way to insulate your data. Another popular technique is virtualization. You create a virtual machine by installing software from a vendor such as Microsoft, VMware, or Parallels. When you run the software, it segregates a portion of your hard disk and creates what is essentially a computer within a computer. You install software onto the virtual machines, or VMs, just as you would a physical machine, but with one major difference: if you delete the virtual machines, everything on it disappears. This is a great way to eliminate viruses and malware, but it does take some technical expertise to create and manage virtual machines. Incidentally, if you do create a virtual machine, it is a good idea to create a clean, backup image of it once you install all your software. That way, you can always recreate the working VM simply by restoring the image to an empty VM.

RULE 5: It's all about Recovery. Making backups are important, but a backup won't do you any good if you can't restore it. Make sure your backup software comes with a Validation feature that can check the backup to make sure it will work. Also, select a product that makes restoring your backup quick and easy. Let's say you need to recover a single file or folder. Some backup programs let you mount your backup image as a virtual disk drive; all you need to do is use Microsoft Windows Explorer to drag and drop the file or folder from your backup to your hard disk. Remember, it's all about the recovery.

There is a lot of information on the web to help consumers make decisions about backup products. You can find additional tips and tricks about data backup and recovery on the Acronis Resource Center at

Ed Benack is the Chief Customer Officer at Acronis, a developer of disaster recovery and backup software. He is responsible for ensuring that the Voice of the Customer is heard in every decision and every action at Acronis.

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