Protecting small firms from computer disasters
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But It Worked Fine Yesterday!

How often have you heard someone say, "But it worked fine yesterday! Nothing changed! Why doesn't it work now?"

When it comes to computers that behave erratically or simply crash, the answer may be in the chips.

I dove deep into the research on ECC (error-correcting code) memory, a kind of computer memory module that detects and prevents problems inherent in the memory itself. Is it worthwhile to replace conventional memory with ECC or go to the trouble of getting ECC memory in a new computer?

Not much research has been published on the subject. One of the early researchers concluded that cosmic rays were responsible for the random errors that can plague computers over time.

While cosmic rays certainly can zap memory units in your computer and cause malfunctions, later research concluded that they are a minor risk. The much more likely causes of computer memory errors are defects that occur in the manufacturing process. They can go undetected for weeks after you start using a new computer or replacement memory.

ECC memory appears to be a good investment. Typically it is priced about 10% higher than standard memory. It cannot guard against all flaws in your computer, but it can spare you from those "It worked yesterday!" moments.

For more information, see:

Regular, automatic backups are must-have protection against the gamut of computer failures.

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