RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Have you backed up data on your computer today?

Have you updated your anti-virus software?

If your company maintains a network, when was the last time someone made sure passwords are truly protected, the firewall tuned, and the anti-virus programs have been updated since George Bush won the presidency?

My brand-new, high-powered desktop PC crashed big-time Sunday morning. Seems there is a major problem win the operating system.

The only alternative, after repeated “repair” attempts failed, is to do a complete re-install, said the gurus in tech support.

Not too fast, he added by phone. If you do a re-install, you likely will lose all the data on your hard drive.


It’s on to a backup, slower PC.

The new one has been packed off to a local firm for a complete diagnostic and then the magic of “data recovery” in the event a re-install or a hard disk drive failure requires drastic restoration and replacement steps.

If I am lucky, I’ll know what went wrong within 24 hours.

If I am lucky, the problem is in fact software and can be fixed either by the tech support crew at the shop or through a re-install.

If I am lucky, all my data will be retrieved.

If I am lucky, I’ll get the PC back in three or four days.

So what’s the message?

Make backup floppies or some other kind of backup on a regular basis.

Make sure your virus software is up to date. (Who knows, maybe one of those nasty “worms” nailed my PC because I missed a warning or change.)

And make sure your network is protected so if in fact a virus is running rampant at least it gets confined.

Survey after survey shows too many executives and individual users are too lax when it comes to backups and security. Count me among the guilty.

Once I get the PC back, you can darn well bet the data is copied and saved — in a safe place away from any other PC.

I wonder if a lock box is secure enough?

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.