The media report computer "virus" problems, but there are far more problems that can affect data. So, data integrity is a very important! You must know what you have before you can adequately protect it.
Do you have data or programs on your PC which you can't afford to have unexpectedly damaged? How can you make sure that your data is safe? To protect the integrity of your data, you must first understand the nature of the threats against it. You might be surprised to find there are more threats than you might imagine.
The most publicized threats to your computer are software-based attacks often lumped together as "viruses" by the media. Although viruses are often over-sensationalized by media coverage, they do present a very real menace to your data (discussed in Virus Threats). Even if a virus never attacks your PC, it is almost inevitable that system glitches will some day corrupt data or programs on your PC. Considering that viruses are but one threat to your data, and not the most likely threat by far, it's ironic that so many people have anti-virus software but so few people take steps to protect the integrity of their programs and data from other hazards. Can anyone afford not to know that each and every byte on their disk is undamaged?
So what's the explanation? Why do so few people take steps to assure the integrity of the data on their PC? The main reason is that data integrity gets almost no media coverage, even in the trade journals, while a virus story may make the local evening news. The result is that people just don't give data integrity a second thought. It's all too easy to take the reliability of our modern PCs for granted; and, as you'll see, all too dangerous!
You may be reading this primarily because you are interested in viruses. If that's true, then, for you, the media attention to viruses will have had a very beneficial effect. You will learn about other threats and how to protect your PC against much more than just viruses! Data integrity is not a very glamorous subject, yet it's both crucial and fundamental to using any computer. Without positive assurance of data integrity, computers cannot be depended upon to process any type of important data. How would you respond if someone were going to change a byte of data somewhere at random on your disk? You'd be pretty upset right? Well, the odds are, it has already happened but you were not aware of it. Perhaps the result was that a program quit working or CHKDSK found lost or cross-linked clusters. Or perhaps, if you're lucky, the damage was to some inconsequential part of your disk.
You keep important information on your computer. Can anyone afford not to know that each and every byte on their disk is undamaged?
There are a large number of threats to your data; not just viruses.
Before you can effectively respond to these threats you first must have good information about what you have on your computer.