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PC Tech Tips - Vol. 3.2


What About Backup

One thing that computer companies never teach us to do is how to backup our files. If someone takes the time to teach us, many of us still don't do it. We're just too busy. It's like insurance, we don't think about it until a disaster happens.

What kinds of disasters can happen? The obvious ones are fire, theft, flood. These are just as devastating as a hard drive failure. What causes a failure? Temperature fluctuation, static, power surges, brownouts and, believe it or not, installing software programs cause hard drive failures. (The latter may not cause complete failure, but it can wreak havoc on the order of the disk.)

What options do we have once the hard drive fails? We could have the hard drive repaired (repair people always ask if you have backup) or we could replace the hard drive. In both cases, the programs would have to be re-installed and data, re-created. One other option is to send the hard drive to a data recovery service. There's no guarantee for data recovery and it is extremely costly. After all, services know they are the last resort AND we are desperate!

How can we sleep better at night? Use a backup program or at least copy data (documents, spreadsheets, macros and email) to floppy diskettes, a tape drive or a second hard drive. High capacity tape drives allow the backup of software programs as well as data. Additionally, tapes and diskettes are removable.

Rotate or alternate use of the tapes or diskettes. Never use the same ones consecutively. Have at least three sets that are used in the following manner:

  1. Mark the first tape or set of diskettes as Number One. Use this for your first backup.
  2. The second time you backup, mark a new tape or set of diskettes as Number Two.
  3. The next time, use a new set marked Number Three.

When all three sets are complete, rotate to using set Number One. This procedure will protect against errors which could occur during backups or backed up files containing errors.

Further, a complete set of data and programs should be stored off site. Some suggestions are: a safe deposit box, someone else's home, anywhere except next to the computer. Remember to periodically replace the off site backup with a fresh one.

Some popular backup programs are Symantec's Norton Backup, Symantec's Fastback and Central Point's Backup. Microsoft includes a backup utility with DOS 6.0 and above and also with Windows95.

Now, how much is your (or your staff's) time worth? How valuable to you is your computer? Your data? Start a backup routine today, make it part of your schedule. Some backup software can be set to run automatically. Don't wait until a disaster happens!

Computers and Ergonomics

One of the buzz words of the 90's has been ergonomics. With the computer revolution has come an epidemic of aches and pains. The medical field blames the abundant and extended use of computers.

What can we do to avoid neck and shoulder pain, eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome (pain in the wrist and forearm)?

First, the computer's monitor should be at eye level or below. It should be positioned so the user can sit directly facing it without turning her/his head or body. This promotes proper positioning of the head. Consider lighting, too. Task lighting is preferred. Glare can cause eye and neck strain. Keep monitor from areas that cause glare. If possible, set the video resolution to a larger font to avoid additional eyestrain.

Second, the keyboard should also be positioned directly in front of the user. A wrist rest will support the wrist and hands. The keyboard should be at a height which allows the user to keep forearms and wrists parallel to the floor while keeping elbows along the torso and the upper arms perpendicular to the floor. An adjustable height chair and/or an adjustable height keyboard tray will help attain the proper position.

Chair height should allow the user to keep feet flat on the floor while thighs are parallel to the floor. The chair should have good lumbar support as well. A footrest can help too.

Mouse users have a variety of tools to apply proper ergonomics. Adjustable arm rests which attach to the desktop and support the forearm are good tools. Among other aids are: keyboard trays with mouse pad extensions, pointing devices such as pen pointers, a trackball mouse (user rolls ball vs. pushing mouse) and touch pads. If using a "push" style mouse, be sure to use a mouse pad for easy roll. Also, be sure to clean the ball often if it sticks.

Some of the tools mentioned here can be found in office supply stores or mail order catalogs. Many other tools are also on the market. Call PC Tech Associates for more information or visit the website of ErgoMetrix, a supplier of business and home office ergonomic equipment. Their website address is http://www.ergohome.com

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