Commodity Traders Club Trading Resources


Back-Up and Hard Disks - Paul Kirchhoffer

I'd like to share a little story and say a few words about a nifty computer product that may be of interest to the group:

Bart struggled to his feet the instant he heard the door open. He was barley able to focus his eyes, as a man in a white lab coat walked down the hall towards him. For Bart, it had been a very long night. As a commodity trader, he was accustomed to dealing with bad news. He tried to push aside thoughts of that recent string of limit days in lumber and those New York fills that came back outside the official daily range.This situation demanded all the courage he could muster. It was beyond the emotions of fear and hope and greed. This had become a matter of life and death.

The man in the white coat paused for a moment and motioned for Bart to sit back down. There was no need for words. Bart knew instinctively his hard disk was dead. Major bummer, he thought to himself. Then slowly, the reality of the loss began to sink in. It wasn't just that his hard disk was gone, it was the fact that everything on it was also gone. There was all that price data - daily data, weekly data, monthly data and even tic data.

There were program files and personal records. And then there were at least a half dozen of those Holy Grail systems - you know the kind with nosebleed equity curves and $3,000 price tags. The technician at the computer store told Bart that he was lucky because his drive was still in warranty. Bart didn't feel so lucky.

The salesman who had sold him the computer hadn't spent much time explaining the concept of making regular back-ups or why they are necessary. Which brings me to the point of this little story - when your hard disk dies, what will you do?

There are several ways to back-up your hard disk before disaster strikes. The simplest and least costly way, is use your floppy disk drive and a backup utility program. In addition to being very slow, the disadvantage of this method is that it requires you to be physically present to insert and remove a bunch of floppy disks.

A better solution is to install a special cassette tape drive designed for just this purpose. Remember, when buying a tape drive, you get what you pay for. Some inexpensive tape units require that you pre-format the tape cassette first and then make your back-up. This can take several hours on a fair sized drive.

Still another solution is to add a second hard drive just for back-up purposes. Hard drive prices have come down and it's the fastest way to back-up your data. If you choose this route, you can even get a special hard disk controller that keeps a mirror image of your primary hard drive on the second hard drive. With this type of controller, if your primary hard drive should fail, your computer will continue to function with no down time at all. The disadvantage to using a second hard drive is that your backup will always be with your computer. If, heaven forbid, your computer should grow legs, your back-up data will be gone with it.

Which brings us to what I consider to be the ideal backup solution. It's called the removable media drive. These drives combine the best features of tape drivers along with the speed of a hard drive. There are actually hard drives that use removable media cartridges. They are available in 45, 90 and 150 megabyte sizes. Think of them as super-fast giant floppies. Simply pop in a cartridge and copy or manipulate data. After making the copy, you can pop the cartridge out for safe storage or you can put it into a second computer at another location. It's great if you like taking your work between home and the office.

Good prices on these units and other types of drives can be found at Hard Drives International (800-998-8028). And now that you're thinking about your hard drive, why not check out a utility program like PC Tools or the Norton Utilities. They contain programs to de-fragment your hard disk and to scan a disk marking and deleting any potentially bad sectors before they become a problem. Good trading and may your back-up always be with you.


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