Monday, 24 June 2013

5 Ways to Save and Protect Your Hard Disk Drive

Posted by Siva Kumar Ari
Computer crashes, like death and taxes, have become an avoidable fact of life for computer users. Hard drives don't last forever, and almost everyone (perhaps including you!) has a story to tell about a hard drive that crashed. Soon your computer doesn't reboot properly, and you hear that ugly grinding sound that means all of your precious data has been wiped out. What did you to protect hard drive data? It's too late to think about it after the fact.




One of the most important components in a computer is a hard drive. In this article we look at 5 ways to save and protect your hard drive. Most of the solutions presented here are commonsense solutions that require no technical expertise.


1. Backup Your Data

You've heard it many times before - the best way to protect hard drive data is to backup your data. There are many ways to backup your data. Copying personal files to another disk is one method, but it's time-consuming and manual. It's better to use an automated backup solution that can perform backups at scheduled intervals.

One such product is bundled with Windows XP Home and Professional editions. The file is called ntbackup.exe. It's automatically installed with Windows XP Pro. If you have Windows XP Home edition, you can locate the file in your Windows CD ROM in the \valueadd\msft\ntbackup folder.

Then run ntbackup.msi to run the backup program. The backup program will backup your files to a backup file. Once you've made your backup, you need to know how to restore your files from your backup. You may need to reinstall Windows so keep your original installation discs handy.

If you want to avoid reinstalling Windows then consider making an image of your hard drive. Backup programs can make an image of your whole disk without the need to reinstall Windows.

2. Password Protection

Password protection and data encryption are one of the most basic ways that users can protect hard drive contents. To change your password in Windows just access your account from Control Panel -> User Accounts and then click change my password.

Now you want to encrypt your data, which will scramble it for everyone but you. Please note that encryption is available in Windows XP, but only for NTFS file systems. To encrypt a file or folder, right-click on it, go to Properties -> Advanced tab and check the box labeled Encrypt contents to secure.

No one else will be able to read this data but you. You can make encryption easier by creating a popup menu. Go into the Registry Editor and locate

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows
\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced.

Select Edit -> New -> DWORD Value and name it EncryptionContextMenu.

Double-click this and enter 1 for the value. From this point on, you will be able to right-click any file or folder to bring up a popup menu with the options Encrypt or Decrypt.

3. Unleash the Windows Recovery Console

Imagine having your hard drive crash and not being able to boot up. Are you out of out luck? Not at all! Bundled with Windows XP is a powerful tool called the Windows Recovery Console. It allows you to repair file systems or folders so you can protect hard drive contents. Unfortunately by default the WRC is on a "leash"-it operates in a restricted or crippled mode on your computer. .

Lift the restrictions by opening the Local Security Settings editor in Windows (click Start -> Run -> secpol.msc). Go to Security Settings -> Local Policies -> Security Options and double-click on Recovery Console: Allow floppy copy and access to all drives and all folders. Check Enabled and Ok. That will set up you for full access. Should Windows ever crash, start the WRC and type set AllowAllPaths=True.

Start the WRC by putting your Windows XP CD into your computer and pressing 'R' upon reboot. Type your Administrator password. The command interpreter will appear. You can then run whatever commands you need or type help for a list of commands.

4. Make Room for Defrag

One way to save hard drive contents is to fine tune your defrag program. With defrag there are two files that will never defrag: your Master File Table and your swap file.

As the table of contents for your hard drive your Master File Table expands as you add more files. To protect hard drive MFTs you must allocate more space to them. Go into your Registry and locate the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Filesystem. Find the value NtfsMftZoneReservation and type 2, 3 or 4. These numbers indicate how much of the hard drive to allocate to the MFT: 25, 37.5 and 50 percent respectively.

To expand your swap file make sure you have 256MB of RAM and click on the System icon. Go to Advanced -> Performance Settings -> Advanced and click Change. Select the No Paging File in Virtual Memory box and click OK three times. Reboot and run disk defrag. Then go back to Virtual Memory box, select Custom and set the Initial Size and Maximum Size to the same value (2 to 4 times your RAM) and your swap file will not fragment.

5. Get Rid of Old Junk

The final way to save hard drive units is to get rid of that old junk in your computer. These are unused programs on your computer that tend to slow down your computer's operations. Uninstall them by going to Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs.

Also you should invest in a good anti-spyware program as well. Spyware ads are those annoying popups that try to direct you to a merchant's site. These programs reside on your computer and consume precious resources-until you remove them with a spyware or adware busting program.

Another area on your computer that you should definitely check out is your Temp folder. This is the folder where Windows dumps files that it is only using on an interim basis. If these files are left over after they have been used they can slow your computer down as well. You'll find the Temp folder in C:\Documents and Settings under your username. You can sort the files by their modified dates to determine which files you think are way too old and are safe to delete.

Computers, like any other piece of hardware, require routine maintenance and fine tuning to keep them running in optimal condition.

We Hope this article is helpful for you :)

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