Are Flash Drives Reliable For Backups?

The shortest answer, is, No storage device, whether printout, drive or DVD is immune from the natural elements, that is, from eventual degradation, loss, or destruction.  It is better to calculate the probability of loss versus the value of the data being stored. For example, if a few files from a primary computer are temporarily copied to transport them to another computer, the probability that the files needed will arrive safely to the office is very high, aside from losing the device in the car seat on the way there.  And its a copy–so no permanent loss if lost in transit.

Nonetheless, with respect to the plethora of flash drives on the market today, some are far more reliable than others.  The greatest danger lies in the sheer volume that such a drive can hold, and the fact that any flash drive may suddenly stop working without warning resulting in total loss of the stored data.  The better manufacturers do extensive tests on these devices, so the chance of failure may be very low, but never zero. Therefore, the best guarantee against loss is duplicate drives, whether flash drives or ordinary drives.  Simply said, never rely on a single drive to store data for long-term.  Use two or more drives to store the same data and then store the drives themselves in different locations to insure against fire or theft.  In choosing physical storage location however, consider that the usefulness of  archived data  ages with time, so backups for current operations must be continually updated.  Thus, the drives must be reasonably accessible for periodic update.

Probability of failure: Suppose a newly purchased 128GB drive is used to backup all your computer documents, and that the probability the drive would suddenly fail this year is .01%.  If an identical second drive is purchased, and the same data duplicated to it, its probability of failure would also be .01%.  But the likelihood that BOTH drives would fail at the same time — very unlikely (yet not impossible, especially if both drives purchased at the same time from same lot of manufacturing).  The likelihood BOTH drives stored in the same location could be destroyed, lost,  or stolen is much more likely, but this isn’t a function of the drive reliability.

In any case, use of flash drives for long term storage of critical data is generally discouraged because the nature of such drives is that if PHYSICALLY damaged, it is essentially impossible to retrieve the data.   In contrast, if a hard drive mechanism fails, it usually can be physically repaired and data fully recovered.  The size of hard drives is also such that they are generally not carried around in one’s pocket.  For practical reasons, a drive sitting safely on a desk is much more secure than a flash drive subject to all sorts of elements from baby slobber to melting in one’s car.

To read more, see this CNET.com article.

https://www.cnet.com/news/reliability-of-usb-flash-drives-questioned/

I have Wifi on phone, but why can’t I print?

This is a great question. Numerous factors are involved here. There are two components to wi-fi software, a client, and a server. Most phones come free with wi-fi client capabilities, that is, the phone itself has the capability, even without a cellular phone plan, to connect to a publicly available wi-fi connection, such as at a public library. Pads, and most laptops come with similar built-in wi-fi network cards. This is the client-side use of wi-fi.

Wi-fi capable printers are also wi-fi clients. Every client must be able to connect to a wi-fi server in order to communicate with other clients also connected to the same server. In other words, even though there are no wires, the invisible wire-less connections still have to be made to the single point of contact–the server router. That server router is like an old-fashioned telephone operator who plugs this call into that call so the two can communicate, and if the device is already communicating to someone else, tells the third caller to wait because the line is busy.

A cellular “hot-spot” is simply a miniature wi-fi server/router.  Most cellular companies charge a fee for this service, because it effectively turns your cellular phone into an Internet router service provider (expensive for airwave use). With home or office Internet services, turning your phone into a hot-spot wi-fi (server) is generally unnecessary. Within an office environment on wi-fi, a cell phone hot-spot is the MOST expensive and temporary way to go. The most effective method is to setup a private wi-fi network, and connect all your devices to it. Use your phone as a wi-fi client to connect to the wi-fi box, and save some dollars by eliminating the wi-fi hot-spot function of your phone.

Even so, once a wi-fi router server is in place, still a number of settings must be correctly configured to get everything talking the same language.  Call BA’s 903 243-9588 for an appointment and we will evaluate and resolve your need*.

*Conditional on your devices’ capabilities.  Printers that are not directly wi-fi compatible can be used with proper configuration.

Time-Saving Online Job Search Tip – Dollar General

Applicants looking for a job run into unrealistic hurdles on various company job websites. Dollar General’s site, for example, requires that an applicant apply by the specific job type at a specific store. That sounds harmless until the applicant realizes that he would not be eligible for a similar job at the same store until he reapplies for that specific job. Your painfully entered application information or resume-upload IS NOT SHARED with neighboring stores and IS NOT AVAILABLE for consideration of any other job at the same store. Since the application process can take up to an hour on a fast Internet connection (woe to those in outlying regions without good Internet), this is a very time-consuming enterprise for a relatively low-paying job.

Apply somewhere else? While always an option, it misses the point. Managers at Dollar General are prohibited by company policy from accepting applications or resumes apart from the online job board. Thus the only option is to apply to every relevant job at every store in the areas you live. When done in a single sitting, there are some ways to shorten the process.

First understand, these steps are only necessary because Dollar General’s Job Application websites are terribly organized. The local store list brings up thousands of records sorted by store number, which means you either have to call the stores first (you do have all their phone numbers handy already right?) to get the store number, or scroll forever until you can find your store.   Best option initially is to select by zip code. But read on…

QUICKEST STEPS TO APPLY:

    1. Place your resume in a simple word or text document on the computer in which you will apply on-line. (If you do not have one, neatly print relevant information on a sheet a paper so you can easily copy from it into the on-line fields.)
    2. Modify the zip code in the following link to get listings relevant to your area: https://jobs-dollargeneral.icims.com/jobs/search?ss=1&searchLocation=zipRadius&latitude=&longitude=&searchZip=75410&searchRadius=5  (in miles)
    3. Bookmark the LINK! Put it on your browser’s toolbar where it is easy to click. This step is necessary because after applying for one job, Dollar General fails to provide a link to bring you back to these same listings. Just entering the search criteria consumes valuable time.
    4. Go through the application process on one of the jobs, and be sure to complete the entire process 100%, which includes the WOTC survey (they fail to tell you it is required). Time to complete everything is something like 45 minutes if you are a good typist and Internet stays up. When you get to the page that says “Thank You” and you get an acknowledgement email, congratulations, the process is completed for THAT job.
    5. Now REPEAT. Click the bookmarked job search, and reapply for every relevant job in local area. The site will remember your previous application mostly….it will ask you to complete the job assessment survey again but just click through it and it will tell you you did it already. It will also ask you to repeat the WOTC survey again, but again, just click through it and it will acknowledge done already. These ridiculous un-automated steps are necessary to insure that when you get to the store you will not be told “Oh, I see you applied for Lead Sales position, but what we need is just a Sales Position candidate. Go back and reapply.”

Cheers.