Byte Me Article 346 – What Is User Data

2nd December 2017

This week has proved a little frustrating as we have had several existing and new customers coming in with data loss problems.  Unfortunately in so many of these cases they didn’t really understand what user data was or how it could be safeguarded and once again many of these cases constitute a tragedy for the person involved.  These issues are not just limited to desktops and laptops, but also to tablets, smart phones, external drives and memory sticks.

So, as the term user data can mean many different things to different people lets define what it actually is.  On my computer these articles that I type up each week become part of my user data.  To me they are unique and they have taken effort to create.  The same would be the case if I were keeping an Excel spread sheet recording of rainfall.  Let’s list some more user data.

If you have a family tree package on your computer then the information that you put into it is user data.  The same can be said of an accounting package, a sales brochure, a delivery slip, a stock order, a letter to the local council, a resume, a school or uni assignment or even poetry or diary that you are writing.

Another form of user data is a digital photo that you may have taken at an event or place.  It has especially been photos of late that people are putting at risk or losing.  This is very unfortunate because if you lose a set of photos from a wedding or an overseas trip they cannot be recreated.  At least with an assignment you can retype it or even to some extent an accounting package can be recreated if the last version (possibly one that your account has) is not from too long ago.

Photos, however can rarely be recreated.  You cannot ask a bridal party to line up again a month after the wedding.  Similarly you would not re-book another overseas trip to the same destination just to take another set of happy snaps.  Lost digital photos are an example of user data that becomes lost forever and this can easily constitute a tragedy for the person concerned.

If you happen to be a photographer and are responsible for taking professional photos at various functions then properly safekeeping photos (user data) is even more important.  Moving on to the safekeeping of data the only reliable method is to have at least 2 copies of all files.  Some people get confused right here and wonder how you can do this.

When it comes to user data on a computer or other device, making a 2nd copy is as easy as a copy and paste.  Basically you plug another device such as a backup drive into the device that already has the photos or files and you select all of the important ones and then select the ‘copy’ command.  Next you navigate to the device that you want to create the copy on and select the ‘paste’ command – it is that simple!

We have also seen many disasters with people buying ‘external backup drives’ and then storing the only copy of their data on one of these devices.  Let me make it very clear that any data storage device and fail – whether new and whether it is sold as a backup device, and this is the reason for having another copy elsewhere.  Another tip is to never transport / carry both of these devices at once and again it is best practice not to store them together as well.

Once again, I have rapidly run out of room with this article so I will talk about the backup of smart phones and other devices next week as they offer a few different options. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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