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Data loss: most common causes, prevention, and recovery

Data loss can occur when you spill your coffee all over your laptop or when your desktop gets a virus, but there are things to look out for and ways to prepare, or even recover the data.

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Data loss is more than just a broken iPhone

Most individuals, entrepreneurs, or small businesses are well aware that if their beloved iPhone falls in the toilet, or laptop is run over, there is hell to pay when looking at the expense of replacement, not to mention data loss. But what can be done to make sure that a smartphone, tablet, laptop, company computer, or otherwise that has a virus or is broken doesn’t spell panic?

Russell Chozick, co-founder and Vice President of Flashback Data, tells AGBeat the most common ways data loss occurs, what prevention methods can be used, and what recovery options are available (aside for plunging your iPhone into a bucket of rice to dry it out). Chozick explains in his own words below:

Q: Most common ways professionals lose data?

A: Most small businesses do not have sufficient backups. Either they do not backup at all, or they do not test the backups regularly. Larger organizations use managed RAID servers with multi point of failure redundancies. These systems will alert an IT admins of any degradation in redundancy and that can be fixed right away. Alongside the redundant storage, they perform backups to Tape, Hard Drive or to cloud services.

Q: Even if rare, what is the most surprising cause of data loss?

A: It’s not rare as one may think. Nothing surprises us these days. It seems the most common server failure is when one drive in a RAID 5 disk array goes down and no one notices. Then a second disk fails down the road and then the server goes offline for good, until we step in. RAID 5 is meant to allow for 1 drive failure in an array and still remain functional. This gives the IT staff time to replace the disk to regain redundancy. If it goes unnoticed, a second disk failure results in complete server failure.

On the end user side, we see everything from dropped laptops, coffee spills, broken USB thumb drives, and even iPhones that went for a swim.

Q: What are the top methods for data loss prevention?

A: Backup, Backup, Backup. It is as simple as setting up an automatic process to have your computer backup to an external hard drive or even sign up for a cloud backup service. Or do what I do and use both.

Windows and Mac both come with built in backup programs that make it very easy to backup.

Remember, just because you have a ‘backup hard drive’ does not mean it is a backup. You cannot simply move your data from your internal drive to the external drive and call that a backup because the data is still only in one place. It isn’t a backup unless there is a copy in 2 places.

Q: What are the top methods for data loss recovery?

A: Most of the failures we see at our lab are physical failures of hard drives and flash drives. There is not much an end user can do themselves when this happens without the correct tools and know how. So, before doing anything that can risk further damage, contact a professional data recovery company. In our case, it is free for us to evaluate in order to determine severity and costs before deciding if it is worth it to you.

The American Genius (AG) is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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1 Comment

  1. rolandestrada

    February 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    I have to admit I only backup my entire hard drive to an external drive. And it has saved my butt more than once. I’m too cheap to pay for offsite backup. However, all my active real estate files are saved to Google Drive. So those files are on the external and cloud. If you are going to backup to an external it should be a clone. That way you have an exact copy of the entire drive including settings, files and programs. The other advantage to cloning is that you can boot into that drive and be back in business in minutes. I run Macs and for cloning I use SuperDuper ($28). You can use Acronis True Image ($50) on a Windows machine. Both of these programs are well worth the cost.

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Tech Gadgets

Why Google’s Deep Dream project is more than just a trippy tricky

A programmer discovered that even while asleep, your computers dream, and the imagery is amazingly bizarre and sometimes creepy. What are the implications of this? Is it more than just a cool trick?

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Dreaming deep, sound asleep

As machines become increasingly intelligent, they are also becoming more artistic.

Google’s Deep Dream is making a huge splash on the web. It was originally coded by Alexander Mordvintsev, a programmer working in security systems who liked to play around with artificial intelligence as a side project. In the middle of the night last May, he discovered the lines of code that would cause Google’s neural net to generate original images that look like a psychedelic combination of Salvador Dalí and Lisa Frank. He posted his images on Google’s internal Google + account, and was soon paired with young programmer Chris Olah and software engineer/sculptor Mike Tyka to develop Deep Dream.

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REM for your RAM

The Deep Dream team has created an entire gallery of surrealistic art. Animal parts of different species combine to form fantastical beasts, backgrounds fill with swirling patterns, and spiders emerge from cloudless skies.

In July, the Deep Dream team released the software on GitHub so that the general public could turn their family portraits and vacation photos into bizarre art pieces. New apps are popping up, several grotesque portraits of presidential candidates have been produced, and the band Wilco used a Deep Dream image on the cover of its latest album. Samim Winiger, who created software that makes animations from Deep Dream images, says that “in five years we won’t recognize Photoshop,” alluding to the possibility for Deep Dream technology to become a major feature in our visual world.

But is there more to it?

Winiger refers to Deep Dream as “creative AI [artificial intelligence].” But can a computer be said to have creativity? The dreamlike (or, at times, nightmarish) quality of Deep Dream images has certainly caused some observers to posit that Deep Dream is pulling images from the “subconscious” of Google’s mind. But a computer, no matter how smart, is not a brain. So is Deep Dream just the robot equivalent of a cool party trick?

Deep learning in the neural net

But Deep Dream wasn’t created just to blow our minds with freakish four-eyed kittens and giant tarantulas crawling from the sky. It’s also a useful way for programmers to study artificial intelligence. Computers can now achieve what programmers call “deep learning” by processing information through a neural net (NN). Neural nets are meshes of artificial neurons layered one over the other, like spider webs. Information is passed through several layers of the NN, and each layer analyzes it from a different angle. The topmost layer is responsible for the output of information that has been “learned” by deeper layers of the net.

Google has made great strides towards teaching its neural net to visually recognize objects by having it produce an image of whatever it’s viewing, which is then graded for accuracy and fed back into the computer, giving the NN an opportunity to learn from its mistakes and eventually come to automatically correct itself.

Layered learning, and pattern detecting

So far, it has been hard for researchers to really know for sure what is happening at each layer of the neural net. But a researcher can have a computer produce a Deep Dream image from a specific layer of its neural net, thus revealing exactly what that layer is learning. In this way, researchers are discovering more about what happens inside an artificial mind.

What researchers have found is that computers may have higher perception and better pattern-recognition than humans. It’s like having a highly imaginative child watch clouds. If a cloud looks a little bit like a ship, the neural net will run the image through a feedback loop until a highly detailed ship emerges. This is why Deep Dream is able to create images even out of random noise – it can detect patterns that a human wouldn’t even notice.

This has far-reaching implications for how artificial intelligence may eventually replace humans. For example, researchers are using neural nets to read ultrasounds, detecting tumors invisible to the human eye.

Final thoughts

So, is artificial intelligence becoming creative? Is a computer an artist? That depends on how you define creativity, and where you draw the line between the “real” and the “artificial.” But Deep Dream engineer Mike Tyka is impressed: “If you think about human creativity, some small component of that is the ability to take impressions and recombine them in interesting, unexpected ways,” – the same ability Deep Dream displays.

Regardless of whether or not this is true “creativity,” the world seems to agree with Tyka that when you let a computer come up with original art, “it’s cool.”

Steven Levy was granted the first interview with the Deep Dream team. You can read his report at Medium.com.

#DeepDream

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Tech Gadgets

Angee is a customizable, livestreaming home security system. Why don’t you have it yet?

The newest in home security, Angee syncs with your smart phone in 30 seconds, rotates 360 degrees and can be turned off at the sound of your voice.

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360 degrees of security

When it comes to home safety, it’s important to stay up-to-date and as current as possible, especially when home security systems are involved. Thanks to technology, new and improved smart alarm systems like Piper, Nest Cam, and Canary are readily available to the consumer. The newest member to this tech security family is Angee, and she is a far cry from the security systems of yesteryear.

Angee is “the only smart home security system to provide full perimeter security with a portable, 360° rotating camera, not to mention voice-controlled home connectivity and personal assistance,” said Max Rattner, VP of Sales & Brand Development for Angee.

Rather than using the traditional means of home security, Angee uses boosted bluetooth technology to create a geofence for your home by using security tags that are placed anywhere you want them.

Shuts down completely in privacy mode

Controlled by your smartphone, Angee arms your home once you have left the premises. However, she can be set to switch to privacy mode while you are home and Angee will literally turn to the wall and turn off her camera while the family is home and safe.

An interesting feature for Angee is her voice identification system. She stores all of your family member’s names and voices and when you enter your own home, just let her know it’s you! She will verify your voice and not sound the alarm. No need to enter a code on a keypad every time you’re coming and going.

See the weird things your cat does while you’re working

Angee powers herself off a 3600mAh battery, which has an 8 hour battery life of live streaming video you can literally watch on your phone, tablet, or smartwatch when you get bored at work. She also holds one hour of HD quality video, or several more hours if you’re willing to burn your eyes by staring at SD video.

The fact that you can keep an eye on your home via live streaming differentiates Angee enough from traditional home security systems. But to make this new system even more modern, Angee also manages your home’s other smart devices such as the thermostat, TV, and lights. Angee also has 1.5 Gb of local storage and 1 Gb of free cloud storage. In addition, Angee requires no traditional installation and the Angee team is extremely proud of how easy it is to set the security system up with your personal smart phone. The team claims syncing the system with your phone will only take around 30 seconds.

One-time payment for full-time security

Another great feature to this new, modernized home security system is that there are no monthly fees. As the company grows, subscription plans will become available as needed, but for now Angee feels that the smart triggers and video loops do more than enough. Angee is perfect to use in apartments and small spaces, and you can easily get away with only purchasing Angee and one sensor for the main door. If you live in a larger home and want to monitor multiple rooms via your smart phone, purchase Angee and a three pack of sensors to place around the perimeter of the house.

Home security systems can’t get any easier than this.

#HomeSecurity

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Tech Gadgets

Frustrated with Windows 10? How to roll back your upgrade

With the release of Windows 10, many users expected faster speeds and better service, but some aren’t seeing these results. Here’s what you can do about it.

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Windows 10 rolled out to mixed reviews

With the release of Windows 10, many users expected faster speeds and better service. While some users may love the new Windows and find this to be true, others are less than satisfied. Windows 10 has received numerous complaints of keystroke logging, listening in on your conversations, and stealing your bandwidth. This makes for less than happy Windows 10 users.

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Microsoft has denied that they are logging everything you do while using Windows, but, the Preview version explicitly stated, “we (Microsoft) may collect typed characters and use them for purposes such as improving autocomplete and spellcheck features.” One imgur user is hopping with users debating the usefulness and privacy perils of Windows; some users are making valid points. While this is not exactly the security-conscious Windows some users were expecting, keep in mind that Windows 10 is a desktop and cloud operating system.

This means you’re sharing more information than you were previously accustomed to. Every cloud -based system uses keystroke information to improve their software, even if you weren’t aware of it.

Now, head on over to your Settings

If you’d like to lockdown Windows 10, head over to Settings, then Privacy. Here you’ll find thirteen different privacy settings that you can customize as you see fit. The major settings will be found under the “General” tab. This is a good place to see what you have control of and what you can adjust. However, if you would prefer to revert back to a previous version of Windows, you can do that as well.

Before you do any of the steps listed below, please ensure your information is backed up, just in case you lose information in the transition. When you installed Windows 10 on your PC, the old version stayed on your machine in a “Windows.old” folder. This is what will allow you to revert back to a previous version, without too many problems.

Revert from a laptop or a desktop

To get started, click on the Windows Start menu and access Settings. From there, click Update, then Security > Recovery. From here, you’ll see an option to “go back to Windows 8.1” or “Go back to Windows 7,” depending on from which version you upgraded. Once you’ve selected the “go back” option, you’ll click “get started” and this will begin the downgrade process.

One thing to note, if you’re trying to revert from a laptop, you’ll need to be plugged in to the wall, or the process will not work. If you change your mind along the way, you’ll have several chances to cancel, but if you follow through the process, you should have your previous version of Windows in around ten minutes.

If you’re unhappy with Windows 10, at least you have options to customize it to your needs. From tweaking your privacy settings to reverting to a previous version, there is no one-size-fits all solution. Are you keeping Windows 10, or are you planning to revert to a previous version?

#Windows10

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