Data back up utilities and Excel spreadsheet plug-ins
by CI Staff
Dear CI readers,
It appears that I selected the wrong topic for our last Discussion of the Month. In the May CI e-newsletter I discussed my recent fatal hard drive failure on my laptop and how I was lucky to retrieve some important files, including a decade's worth of digital photos. Adding insult to injury was the fact that I had been lax in keeping regular backups of my hard drive. Several readers responded to my suffering with a number of suggestions for drive backup systems (as well as some good-natured scolding for not following a regular backup routine). Seeing the response my experience generated, I decided to include those responses as this month's discussion. As I said last month, don't wait until you are faced with the loss of important data before starting a regular disk backup regime. Windows and Mac OS X have on-board backup utilities or you can choose from a variety of online and software-based backup solutions.
One letter in particular brought a smile to my face, which I have included here:
Wayne, Wayne, Wayne, Wayne. What am I going to do with you? As a physician who teaches other physicians how to use their computers effectively, the first thing I teach them is to backup [their hard drives]. But I know that, like exercise and eating properly, this goes in one ear and out the other.
But now with Mozy and Carbonite there is absolutely no excuse not to have one of these programs backing up all your data in the background. For only pennies a day you too can have the peace of mind.
In our home, every computer backs up automatically with Mozy every night (we also have a home server running too).
I am glad you were able to recover your photos, but please sign up for one of these two great online backup services.
Well rest assured doctor, I have learned my lesson! I am currently using Jungle Disk Desktop Edition (www.jungledisk.com) which works just like a disk drive on my computer-only the information is stored on the Jungle Disk network. I can also sync folders across multiple computers, which allows me to have the latest copies of a file, no matter which system I am using. Jungle Disk Desktop Edition costs $3 per month, plus storage fees, and the first 5G of storage is free. In coming months I will be trying out some different backup systems and will report back to you on my experiences.
To read some more of the comments I received from readers, click here.
Next Month's Discussion
I have carried over what was to have been this month's discussion until next month. While many people use sophisticated analysis programs for their investing, there are a number of investors who prefer the simplicity and flexibility of spreadsheets to build their own analysis templates. There are several Excel spreadsheet plug-ins available that collect data and perform investment analysis. One of our favorites is XLQ from Q-matix (www.qmatix.com), which is written by an AAII member.
If you have a favorite Excel analysis plug-in, we would love to hear about it. Just log on to the Computerized Investing discussion board and give us your thoughts. If we like it, we'll publish it in the next CI e-newsletter.
Thanks again for your contributions!
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA
Editor, Computerized Investing
Have a question or comment to share with fellow CI readers? Post it online at the Computerized Investing discussion board.
Back up your data!
Click here to read some of the comments I received from readers in response to my recent hard drive failure. Many thanks to all those who contacted me. I appreciate your comments and look forward to receiving more in the future!
Thanks to all who contributed!
Q: Does anyone have any thoughts on the differences, advantages, or disadvantages of the XLQ Excel plug-in from QMatix (reviewed in the Fourth Quarter 2009 issue of Computerized Investing) versus AnalyzerXL? Are there any other Excel plug-ins you would recommend?