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Importance of Backups

A backup is the term used to describe copying files from your ... hard drive to another medium such as a tape or compact disk. The ... backup can then be stored ... away from the co

A backup is the term used to describe copying files from your computer's hard drive to another medium such as a tape or compact disk. The resulting backup can then be stored somewhere away from the computer. We should do this periodically in case our original files are lost in some way. The most common causes of files being lost include theft of computers, accidental errors we make, and hardware faults.

I was reminded of the need for backups earlier this week through a conversation with a friend. He runs a small computer shop and repair business. Whilst I was there a customer came in and left a nicely wrapped bottle of wine and said a hearty 'thanks', then left. My curiosity piqued I asked why their customer was so greatful. It turned out that the previous week something had gone wrong with his computer's hard disk and he had brought it in for repair. However the owner had no backup, and was terribly worried that he had lost all his data. The shop staff managed to correct the fault and 'save' his data; hence his relief and appreciation. My friend then told me that it was a daily occurence, and showed me some of the numerous gifts people had given in thanks.

But for many people their experience wasn't as fortunate. Sadly for many people who have hard disk faults, unless they have a backup all of their files are lost.

So if you are running a business based around a computer a regular backup of your data files is an absolute must. In my experience as a computer consultant many times the data has been lost because of a burglary. If your house or office is burgled invariably theives take computers. They are easily carried and readily sold.

And this raises the question of what should you backup? Well that's a hard question to answer because everyone's computer is different so I'll explain what I backup on my computer. My computer runs the Microsoft Windows operating system and has a single 'C:' disk drive.

I have all of my data stored in directories as follows:
C:WebSItes (the source of all my web sites, including text, graphics and scripts).
C:Work which is where I keep all correspondence and general junk
C:Courses where all the text to my courses is held
C:My Download Files where all original files of software that I download are stored.

The other directory I copy is
C:Documents and Settings which is where email files are stored. Without my email I'd be out of business!

My backup system is simple, a CD writer, some blank CDs and Nero Burning software (came free with the CD writer).

And once I've taken my backup I take the CDs to a friend's house for safe keeping. I do this every week.

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Grant McNamara has over 20 years experience in IT, specializing in multi-lingual web site and software development. Visit him at either or www://

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