Summer Storm Season: Batten Down the Hatches ... and Protect Your Data!

The forecast for summer 2008 is calling for a hurricane season that's above-average. While individuals and families prep their homes and offices with supplies and evacuation plans, many forget to protect the valuable data housed inside their computers. As more information is stored digitally, computers have become the lock box for financial records, work data, family histories, photos, memories and more. When this data is lost, it is not easily recovered. Treasured images from weddings, baby's first steps and other poignant events throughout the years are irreplaceable and most likely not covered by insurance companies. It's up to you to take action now and implement the necessary safeguards to protect your valuables.

Prepare yourself for stormy summer weather by backing up your digital life. Help prevent a permanent data blackout with these tips from Geek Squad:

Increase your window of opportunity after a blackout:

  • Install an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). It's a device that offers battery backup in case of a power outage. Standard battery backup units provide 10 to 30 minutes of incremental power so you have time to save crucial documents, burn CDs or properly shut down a connected system.
  • Make sure the battery is in place and unplug any unnecessary items to ensure the most efficient battery use.

Back up everything on regular basis:

  • Software with Back-up Capabilities:

This basic method of computer back up is easy to use on a daily basis. It helps you retrieve information you've inadvertently deleted when your PC freezes, resulting in the loss of a file. While it may not protect data long term, back-up software is important to have for those "oh no!" moments which usually happen on deadline or in a crisis. Genie Backup Manager Pro 8.0 and Second Copy 7 are two popular back-up software packages.

  • External devices:

Similar to the old floppy disc, external storage devices include CD/DVDs, external hard drives and USB flash drives. External hard drives are available in dozens of different storage sizes and plug into your computer via a USB cable. It's easy to store important files on an external hard dive, but don't forget to unplug it from your PC and bring it with you in the event of evacuation. A Geek Squad Agent can help you pick out an external drive that's best suited for your needs.

Flash drives and CD/DVDs are a popular, easy and quick way to back up data but you'll have to be selective, as they likely won't hold everything on your computer. These can easily be found in sizes up to 16 gb. Also, store these back-up devices in a remote location to guard against loss due to natural disasters. Send updated copies to a trusted friend or relative in another city or state.

  • Online Back-up Services:

Storing important files offsite requires no investment in additional hardware. These services vary from vendor to vendor (some include Filevault, Evault, Ibackup or even Geek Squad's own service), but you can usually install software on your computer that will back up certain folders at set intervals: hourly, daily or weekly. These files are password protected and encrypted so no one can view them, not even the network administrators at the storage sites. If you need to retrieve your files, you can simply restore the data from the previous backup. Don't forget to store your passwords in a safe place too.

If you have to evacuate ... don't forget to:

  • Turn off all non-critical devices like monitors and radios and check that all the electrical cords are off the floor and secure.
  • Place waterproof covers over your computers and printers to help protect against water damage. A heavy-duty trash bag should do it in a pinch.
  • Make sure you take all back-up media with you, including any CDs, DVDs, USB drives and external hard drives where your important files are stored.

For help with all your technology needs,

call 1.800 GEEK SQUAD to set up an onsite consultation, find a location near you at, or visit the Geek Squad Precinct at Best Buy and other locations to speak with an Agent directly. We provide our services wherever and whenever you need them - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.