How to Correctly Backup Your Information: Use DVDs, an Extra Hard Disk or Offsite Backups
The data on your PC can be extremely important to you, especially if you are among those of us who make their living using a personal computer. Over the past several years, the personal computer has become a part of all of us, making our working lives a great deal easier. For that very reason, it should be obvious that if we lost the data on our PC, it could totally wipe out most of our personal identity. Losing data can be an overwhelming disaster, at the very least.
Even if the personal computer has become much more commonplace in the past several years, it is almost impossible to prevent PCs from losing files. You must not just throw up your hands though, because you must indeed fight back. The best method to ensure that you never lose your valuable files is to back up and keep backing up. You ought to back up the information on your computer at least once a week, plus a backup daily for new or changed information being the recommended way to go.
In the past, and even for some today, the DVD disk is the usual medium in use to back up the information on your personal computer. Although they store a fairly limited amount of files, DVDs are easy to purchase, easy to access, and almost every computer has a DVD drive. So determine which folders - usually 'My Documents' and perhaps your folders for Email, Music, Photos and downloaded software - then copy them straight to a data DVD or compress them to a zip file and burn that archive to the DVD. If you utilize DVD/RW disks, you can add more information to them each time you run a backup. If you do not use the RW (re-writable) media, then you won't be able to go back at a later time and add more information to the DVD.
If you are planning to make use of disks, you will need a DVD drive, which you may purchase for a low price nowadays. The disks are cheap as well, which just makes this way of backing your data up so much better. Copying files straight to disks is the form of backup that most of us are using nowadays, however, a preferred way of backing up your data is to backup the entire hard drive. Those of you who would like to take things to the next level ought to look into backing up the whole hard disk. Making an exact copy of your entire hard disk is indeed one of the prime and most reliable ways to backup your PC. If you make a backup of your whole hard drive, it will copy all of your information, so if something bad happens you will be sure to have your data.
Making a complete backup of your entire hard drive is great, however, it can take lots of time. Even worse, they advise that you make a complete backup at least weekly. To look at it another way, however, if the information on your computer is critically important, you'll discover it is more than worth the time and effort needed to back up your things. You'll need an extra hard disk that is at least as large as your main hard disk.
The newest way to back up your files and executable files is to utilize offsite backups. Many companies offer offsite backup services, and you can find them at the link below. Similar to using DVD disks, when setting up one of these offsite backup services you have to specify what folders to backup, then you just let the provider make its first full copy of those folders which often takes several hours. After that, it's all automatic: the backup program looks for new and changed files, and uploads them to their offsite backup servers.
An important issue to determine is if your offsite backups store previous versions of files. This is called "versioning." This way, when you have to restore one or a few files that in some way got updated incorrectly, just go online - often you may use your web browser - and copy an earlier version to your computer. Using offsite backups means that you don't need to worry about the theft or destruction of your backup media - DVDs or extra hard drive - along with your PC.
Whether it is for business or for personal reasons, you cannot go wrong backing up your information. You should always try to back things up properly, including the registration keys for all software you bought, as this will guarantee that your programs along with your information will always be accessible if you have to restore them. You can most likely get copies of installation programs on the Internet or from your friends, but you will need your original registration keys to install those programs legally.
So if you accidentally erase some files, or your computer gets stolen, lost, or destroyed in a disaster, or your hard drive happens to crash and you lose everything on it, you'll be sure to have your backup files to go back to. This by itself should save you lots of time, effort, worry, and very possibly even money - just for the fact that the files are all but a simple copy away to recover, either from DVDs, an extra hard disk or offsite backups.
"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author, Dr. Robert Hosken, has over 30 years of career experience in IT. Beginning in his teens he has set up and run a number of businesses and non-profit organizations. Get his free e-Book "How To Maintain Your Computer" and see the most up-to-date techniques to save your valuable data at offsite backups or write him at Robert@CompuNerds.Net - thank you!