We’re taking a look at just how computers store data. It’s easy to visualize the process in your head if you think about it in terms of plain old paper. As you might have guessed, all data is stored as ones and zeros so when a computer stores this information, it’s simply writing down 1s and 0s to represent the data. These are called ‘bits’ usually. We store the ones and zeros in memory 1 at a time, each one writing 1 to ‘memory’ to get it ready for the next.
The computer then waits until all the ones are safely stored before moving on to the next set of ‘zeros’. The speed at which this process happens is measured in ‘Milliseconds’ so if we have 1Gb of data, it takes for ever for our computer to store it. It’s called memory because when you’ve finished reading an article, you often erase it by erasing its marks on your screen. That’s to say that the bits are permanently written into memory cells before being erased. When you erase something on a computer, it’s called ‘deleting’ the data.
How does data get stored on a computer?
The process of storing data is actually very simple. All it involves is taking the data, converting it to binary code (ones and zeros), writing down the bits onto memory cells of your computer’s hard disk, then erasing them by overwriting them with new ones or zeros.
The problem is that with every step in this process, there are ways for things to go wrong. If you’re unfamiliar with binary code, mistakes can be made writing down the bits which can cause errors later on when reading the data back.
If you’re familiar with binary code, then you know that if the computer reads a bit and detects a mistake (it’s not the right way up or something like that) then it can try and adjust the bits to make it work. This is called ‘correcting’ the data. These corrections happen very quickly, on millions of computer systems around the world on a minute-by-minute basis as anyone who’s got a broken radio knows, as nobody wants to accidentally erase their favorite song!
But what if we’ve lost our data? It doesn’t matter how careful we are at writing down those 1s and 0s; they can be lost any time.
There are a number of reasons why data gets lost. Here are a few:
You accidentally format a disk.
A virus corrupts part of your computer’s memory, possibly wiping out the data you wanted to back up.
You had a power cut and your computer lost some or all of its memory.
Your hard disk has failed as its mechanical components have worn out with time and use or it’s been dropped, kicked or otherwise damaged whilst in use.
Because of these risks, it is essential that we regularly back up our data so that if we do lose it, we can restore it from an earlier version which we know works and which has been backed up and can’t be corrupted by viruses etc.
If you’re backing up your data on a DVD or tape then it’s good to keep your old backups in a safe place, away from the computer. In case of fire etc., they can be used to restore your computer back to the way it was before.
In order to protect yourself from getting hacked and having your identity stolen, we recommend you use a password manager such as True Key . It generates and stores passwords for all your online accounts and never exposes them. That way, if one of your accounts is compromised in a data breach, or is hacked by an advanced phishing scam , hackers won’t be able to access the rest of your sensitive online accounts.
One last thing: when you’re backing up your data, we recommend that you write them down in a notepad or use a text editor such as TextEdit to copy and paste them so that you don’t lose any of the information or copy and paste mistakes
Here’s an example of how these kinds of things can happen:
You’ve just finished using your computer. You know it’s important to back up your data often because each time you make changes, it takes time to export again, which is what this guide will teach you how to do.
You go on vacation for 3 weeks. You don’t remember to back up your computer before you go.
You come back and see your laptop with its screen cracked and all your files gone. You don’t have any backups of the important stuff. It’s too late to regain access to it now so you’d stuck, can’t get started working on anything new because it’s all gone.
And so on…
With this kind of stuff happening over and over again, many people have given up entirely on computers as a way of storing or creating data because they can’t imagine a world without them! One other thing that should be mentioned here is that there are a lot of types of disks out there: CD-ROMs, DVDs etc. They are all very similar in that they are disks for storing large files or backups of other disks.