]Own up. It has happened to you, hasn't it? Day in, day out, you use your PC oblivious to the monster that lurks in the shadows waiting to jump out and snap your data at the first sign of catastrophe. Face it: for most users, saving data to disk is like setting it in concrete. They honestly believe that their precious Word files, Excel spreadsheets, reports and the like are safe once committed to hard disk. Are we talking about the same hard disk here? You know, the one that has half a dozen disk heads which fly microns above a platter of disks spinning at over 5,000 revolutions per minute on which all of that valuable data is stored. Disk drive manufacturers quote hundreds of thousands of hours between failure of their drives. Until things go wrong, most users assume that the hard disk drive is one of the most reliable components of a PC. To be fair, they are pretty reliable. But when the hard drive is the main data storage for an operating system like Windows 95, whose mean time between failure seems to be measured in hours, then the chance of data being lost is dramatically increased. Remember: every time Windows 95 crashes, it leaves the disk in an incomplete state with fragments of data scattered all over the place. If this is not corrected, data loss will be the inevitable consequence. Most users are not aware of this eventuality. When a PC crashes, the first action most users take is to reach for the on/off button. Switch the machine on after a fatal crash and, initially, it appears to work. But the system is unstable. Users are just happy to be back on-line, unaware that data loss can and does follow system crashes. IT managers are familiar with the scenario. One minute all is fine, and the user is happily ignorant of the threat. The next, he's the devil himself, straight on the phone to the IT department, irate and demanding his lost data back. There are more serious threats than angry users, however. It emerged last week that hospitals are losing patient records and years of medical research. Alarm bells should be ringing at the NHS. It seems that no contingency is being made for data loss in our hospitals. The NHS has had more than its fair share of IT cock-ups. Let's not see another. The situation is entirely avoidable if hospital IT managers, like all other corporate IT managers, make provisions for data backup and recovery.
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