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    Pernell Taylor Consulting Blog


    by ptaylor129 ·

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      The Value of Good Backups

      by ptaylor129 ·

      In reply to Pernell Taylor Consulting Blog

      The purpose of this document is to provide an easily read synopsis of my most recent experiences with technology in order to open the eyes of my customers and business partners to the value of good backups.  I intend to demonstrate the costs associated with recovering / rebuilding laptops or other computer systems after a catastrophic failure.  By the end of this report you will understand how important it is to do backups on all your equipment.  You will learn a few tricks on improving performance, and some of the products that can help with performing backup.


      All of you know that I live on my laptop.  It is my mobile office.  My truck has internet access.  I can work from anywhere that I am.  It all started a couple months back.  My 2.5 year old Compaq laptop humming along.   Trying to get the most out of my investment I pushed it to the edge.  Installing all the necessary tools, Microsoft applications for all manner of business needs, word, excel, visio, project, powerpoint, Network sniffers for packet capturing, video imaging and editing, billing and invoicing software, Palm Pilot/Treo integration, antivirus tools SYMANTEC CORPORATE EDITION, NORTON GHOST for backup, Anti-spyware tools, Adaware, Spybot search and Destroy, Spyware blaster, FTP tools, HP tools for managing printers, NETCRUNCH by ADREMSOFTWARE,

      Management tools for NETWARE, WINDOWS, CISCO, NETGEAR, HP, VPN Software, the list could literally really go on forever, I think you get the point.  There was probably 40 to 80 man hours invested in making my Compaq laptop do everything it needed to do.


      I use the Norton Ghost product for backing up my laptop to an external HP 160GB USB drive that stays in my office.  I backed up fairly regularly, not as often as I would tell my customers to backup but I felt it was often enough.  I have since begun performing daily backups as I have now lost too much TIME in recovery.  Not data because I am very good about keeping copies of data, but TIME is more important.


      About two month?s ago the 60gb hard drive in my COMPAQ PRESARIO 2585us laptop failed.  It just stopped working one day. Hard drives do that.  No big deal I have a backup.  I go to the local Best Buy and pick up a new hard drive.  Oh and I can upgrade at the same time.  120 Gb for about 130 bucks!  That?s double the capability that I had, now I can store so much more information, pictures, videos, packet captures, network drawings, etc. etc.  I return to the office with the new more powerful hard drive.  I install it in my old laptop.  I restore from my external hard drive using NORTON GHOST, In a matter of about an hour I am back on the road again.  There was very little pain.  I hadn?t backed up in a couple weeks but I keep all my email out on the internet so redownloading it was simple enough.  So back to work I go.  Whew that was close.  It?s a good thing I do regular backups.  But now with my new hard drive, more powerful with twice as much storage it can?t fail on me anytime soon.


      So I spend my time working on website updates, other customer?s issues like rebuilding laptops.  During this time I rebuilt a couple of workstations and laptops and I determined that requires between 8 and 16 hours of installing software, and performing updates; there are over 100 updates to Windows XP since Service Pack 2.  All the hardware drivers for your computer don?t have a simple easy executable file that you can run and make sure it will work properly.  Then reinstalling the software.  Microsoft Office has Service Pack 2 with a dozen or so security updates.  Now I think what a great revenue opportunity!!!  I can bill for all this time.  Then upon further thinking through this I realize that it isn?t cost effective to reinstall everything on a computer.  If I charge a customer my full rate of $150.00 dollars per hour for 8-16 hours = $1200.00-$2400.00 that is the cost of a very good computer already preloaded with software.  I will go into this further a little later.  Considering most of the time is spent waiting for software to finish installing, oh and then waiting for the computer to reboot, and then downloading new software or updates, and then waiting for the computer to reboot, I didn?t feel right about charging full price as some of you already know.

      Now I have gotten pretty good with getting software downloaded while other software is installing that is why I have several storage devices and computers.


      So I?m going along and I find out that there is a new firmware update for my mobile Kyocera Router which lets my truck be an internet access point.  And I go and download this update.  And I figure that while I am taking a break in my truck I can go ahead and download and install this update, cool, ya gotta love technology.  So I turn on my laptop? and nothing?  I turn it off check the power connections, everything seems ok.  I test the power supply with a voltmeter and nothing?  Well that is to be expected.  Two plus years I am surprised it didn?t finish working sooner.  Radio Shack carries a higher level universal power pack made by iGO for $125.00 so I go pick up one of those, no big deal, cool.  Plug it in and the lights go on for about ten seconds and it goes bad.  So guess what that means it must be the internal power supply on the laptop.  So I figure what the heck maybe it?s a loose connection on the plug so I spend 4 hours disassembling the 78+ screws(I stopped Counting) soldering the connections on the power supply and voila!!!!  Nothing?  Alright not one to be discouraged I start working on my alternate plans.  My new more powerful hard drive (which I now believe is responsible for killing the power supply in my COMPAQ laptop) is only a month old so I should be able to install it in a new laptop and bring it up, update all the drivers for whatever laptop I buy, and start working again.  Right?


      With eBay and the Internet it should be no problem to find a really cheap used laptop just like my old one that I have spent many hours getting to work properly by getting all the updated drivers installed in the right order.  But to no avail there was not one available.  Now if I could afford to wait maybe I could find one.  I don?t have the time available and besides it would be another old laptop.  So I start looking at new laptops.  COMPAQ;   with my past experience with their tech support I was not overly excited about that route.  HP; I really like HP but their combination with COMPAQ gave me a queasy feeling in my stomach.  Now HP servers I still really like. 

      Many of my customers use Dell.  I have had very good experiences with Dell Tech support not to mention the fact that I already have two Dell Desktops in my office.  So I start looking at Dell catalogs.  Very attractive machines.  I put together a custom configuration with all my options on the DELL.COM website.  We are up to $2800.00, Shiver me Timbers!!!  That certainly is not in the budget right now. 

      What other options do I have?

      I talk to some of my business partners and see what they can do.  We get down to $2300.00 but I don?t have a docking station and an extra battery.  Laptops eat batteries for lunch.  So I find OUTLET.DELL.COM and start looking around there.

      WOW!  These are computers that have been returned for one reason or another not the right config, bad component, etc. etc.  The way it works is ?What you see is what you get?.  The inventory shows what they have in stock, which changes by the minute, so you have to decide what exactly you need and what you will take and keep watching the inventory until what you want appears.  To give you an example of what I was able to get.

      Dell Latitude D820

      Windows XP Home (I didn?t want XP Home but that?s the config it had I now have XPPRO)

      2.0Ghz Centrino Core Duo processor

      2Gb 667mhz DDR RAM

      100 Gb EIDE 7200 RPM hard drive

      512MB Nvidia display adapter

      3945 Intel PRO Wireless 802.11a/b/g

      Broadcom gigabit Ethernet controller

      350 Bluetooth Wireless adapter (allows wireless syncing of Palm Treo)

      8x DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability

      15.4 inch wide aspect ratio WUXGA 2048X1536

      (The highest resolution you can get on a laptop)

      Extra 9 cell batter pack (I paid list price for this item)

      D Series Port Replicator (I paid list price for this item)

      Three year warranty (yes it includes a three year warranty)

      Nylon Carrying Case (Didn?t need it but I got it anyway)

      Price tag:  $1750.00 (Shipping included)

      Brand new price ordered on the web: $2795.00 (without shipping)


      So my plan was to take my new laptop install my old, new hard drive and go back to work.  NOT? it doesn?t fit in the new laptop (note the EIDE listed above) the old laptop was just IDE.  The E stands for Enhanced IntegratednDriveElectronics.  Again, not to be discouraged,  I found an external hard drive case for 2.5? laptop hard drives for $8.99 (that?s right) on TIGERDIRECT.COM and now I have an extra 120 Gb external storage device for backing up that actually fits in the laptop case.  That took about three days to arrive because I was too cheap to pay the extra $8.00 for next day shipping.  Meanwhile I continued with the reconstruction of the new laptop using Microsoft Windows XP Professional.  Fortunately I do keep all my software in one location.  Starting from scratch still requires installing the operating system, adding all the Microsoft Patches, Installing Microsoft Office, Installing all the Patches, Installing antivirus, adding all the patches, installing anti spyware, adding all the patches, installing extra applications, photoshop, photoalbum, studio, FTP, VPN, Tools, NETCRUNCH, NETSCANTOOLSPRO,  ETC. ETC. Oh and adding all the patches?

      Get the picture.

      Adding all the Patches


      Some of you are in the business of providing hourly billable services, some of you are not but your work directly results in your business being able to bill for services.  Either way all of you are busy professionals that rely on computers to run your businesses.

      So to summarize this story and put it in to dollars and cents perspective. 

      At my highest billing rate of $150.00 per hour a 40 hour week represents a potential revenue of $6000.00.  While rebuilding a laptop which enables you to do work you are unable to provide services rendered by the laptop.  If you stop to work on something else it takes you that much longer to reinstall all the necessary products to be able to get your work done.  Now in all honesty the numbers you see below could be quantified in a number of different ways.  My main goal here is to show a real world situation and how much can be saved by following a few backup practices that will reduce the lost time in the event of a catastrophic failure.

      Cost of recovering from a Catastrophic Computer Failure

      Lost Time                  $6000.00

      New Computer          $1700.00

      Total Cost                  $7700.00

      Cost of recovering from a Catastrophic Computer Failure with Backup

      Lost Time                   $150.00

      New Computer           $1700.00

      External Hard Drive    $200.00

      NORTON GHOST      $65.00

      Total Cost                    $2115.00

      Savings by doing regular religious backups on single individual computer recovery.


      So it costs over 60 percent more to recover without a backup $265.00 is cheap insurance you?re your system.

      BACKUPS                  Priceless

      So if any of you are concerned about your data integrity feel free to  send me an email.  pern<at> and I would be glad to discuss ways of insuring the ability to recover from single machine failure.  For those of you with Fileservers and tape backups you are safer as far as the servers go but you can still loose time from single desktop or laptop failures.  Instead of buying external hard drives, you can store backups of your workstations on your servers for an added layer of protection.

      Yours Truly


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