Backup and Recovery

Best backup practices and recovering lost data.

How can I restore data from a crashed hard drive?

Paul from Columbus, OH

Episode 1027

Paul's computer is running Carbonite and after a power outage the D drive of his computer can't be recognized and it won't backup. Leo says that Carbonite doesn't backup a second drive by default. So he'll have to go into the settings to enable it. The drive does spin up, but it just can't be recognized. Leo says that software can recover the data, but it could be that the board got fried. Fortunately, Paul had a guy that did just that and they've been able to read some of the data. Drivesavers can recover all the data, but it isn't cheap.

What happens to my backups if I get the CryptoLocker virus?

John from La Habra, CA

Episode 1026

John has a Windows 7 PC and is worried that if he gets bit by CryptoLocker, he will lose his backups. Leo says that Carbonite has "versioning" which means it backs up different versions of his data. If his current copy is affected, he can always delete his data and restore from Carbonite. It's not a substitute for protection and behavior, but it's a good last line of defense. If he gets the virus, it's important to also wipe the hard drive, reinstall Windows, and run updates.

How can I backup my data and keep it up to date?

Brian from New York, NY

Episode 1025

Brian was running backup with Carbonite and his hard drive crashed during the backup. Leo says that's bad luck and is likely a coincidence. Fortunately, Brian had a local backup. Leo says that a good backup strategy is what is known as a 3-2-1 backup. Three copies on two different formats, with one being off-site. Backing up and then deleting the original is not a backup. Redundancy is the key.

How can I future proof my backups?

Argwin from Vancouver, BC CAN

Episode 1021

Argwin needs some long term archiving of his files. He's concerned that in 5-10 years, the medium that he stores his data on will be obsolete making that data unreadable. Zip drives are a perfect example. They still work, but they've become so outdated that they can't even connect to a computer anymore. Leo says that at the end of the day, hard copies of data will always work. The cloud is his friend here. It's relatively new though, and some services may not exist in 10 years. That's why Leo advises a shotgun approach.

What's the best way to back up my movies?

Dominic from Bloomindale, IL

Episode 1018

Dom has 10 terabytes of movies and TV shows. Could he use Carbonite to back them up? Leo says that Carbonite backs up very slowly. 10TB would take years to upload, and Comcast would likely cut Dom off. It would be expensive to store all that in the cloud. That doesn't mean Dom shouldn't have an off site option. He can use several hard drives, back them up, and swap them out every week. Back up the drive, wrap it in bubble wrap, and then store it somewhere other than his house. Hard drives are really cheap.

What format should I use for my external hard drive?

John from Southbend, IN

Episode 1018

John has an old Vista laptop he's going to put Ubuntu on. Before he does, he wants to backup all of his photos. What drive should he buy? Leo says he'll want an NTFS drive that also handles FAT32 for Mac and EXT3 for Linux. Everything can read FAT32, so he can just leave the format that way. Macs have trouble with NTFS. The downside of FAT32 is that none of his files can be larger than 2GB.