Backups – Can you trust your computer not to destroy your memories?

How to backup your computer.

There’s no denying that we live in the digital age but are we really prepared for all that it entails? Where we once stored our important documentations in our attics or under our beds, we now find ourselves relying almost entirely on our computers to hold onto some of our most valued memories and property such as:

  • Photographs and Videos – Family holidays, childhood birthdays, nights out with friends
  • Music – All those MP3’s you’ve been collecting for years
  • School work – Coursework for exams and revision notes
  • Business Files – All manner of data critical to your business

… And a whole manner of other files that we would be lost without. But is it safe to entrust this level of responsibility to a computer?

Would you be able to cope if your computer was stolen? If it crashed and you lost all of your files? If you completed an important essay for school and then accidentally deleted it? If that proposal for an important client got corrupted?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you need to be thinking about backing up your computer.

Below we explore some different methods of backing up so that you can choose the option that best suits your needs:

  1. CD / DVD – This simply involves buying a blank CD / DVD, inserting it into your computer and burning the relevant documents onto it. Once the transfer is complete you can remove the disk, put it somewhere safe and voila! You have backed up your data.Pros: Inexpensive and easy to do. Cons: It’s not fool proof – you may lose or break the disk.
  2. External Hard Drive – Your computer will already have a hard drive which is built into the box that encases it and this is known as its internal hard drive and is where everything you save is stored. Whilst it does a great job, if your computer is stolen all of your data will go with it and this is what we are trying to avoid. Many people get around this by using an external hard drive. This is a separate piece of equipment that plugs into your computer and provides additional storage space to store copies of your data. Once everything is copied over you can unplug it and store it somewhere safe. If you lose your computer, you just plug your external hard drive into a new computer and you will find everything you backed up safe and sound.Pros: Holds much more data than a CD and is more versatile Cons: Like a CD, it can be lost, broken, and stolen.

We recommend this popular Samsumg Slimline hard drive available from Amazon.

  1. The Cloud – If you’re brave enough to move away from having a physical object to back your data up to, then the cloud is for you. Arguably the safest and most secure method, the cloud is essentially a collection of servers that holds your data in one (or sometimes several) locations far away from your computer in secure buildings called data centres. You can sign up to a provider, set up an account, choose what you want backed up and then forget about it. There are lots of fantastic suppliers of this product but we love Dropbox and Crash Plan.

With Dropbox you upload the files you want protected to your account which you can then access from your phone, your computer or any other internet enabled device, all you need to know are your login details and you can access your files from anywhere. Note however that this is more of a tool to synchronise your files across several devices and is not a backup solution.

Crash Plan works a little differently in that once you have set up your account and told it what you want it to do, it will always be working in the background and automatically backing up everything that you do (within the parameters than you have set for your account). This is probably the easiest way to back up in that you can just set it and forget it, safe in the knowledge that your files are not only being backed up but also replicated and stored in several separate locations making this the ultimate in back-up security. This means that you would have to lose your computer and Crash Plan’s enterprise would need to be crippled before you lost your data, and I think we can all agree that this is unlikely.

Pros: Practically infallible, your data is as safe as it possibly can be. Cons: You’re trusting an external company to handle your data and lots of people still don’t like this.

We currently use a combination of all three methods of backing up and love the versatility and security that this brings. On more than one occasion we have had our butts saved by these great products. Just yesterday we had to retrieve a file that was accidentally deleted and without the use of Crash Plan, we would have lost 2 weeks of hard work and had to start again. This is what prompted us to make backing up the subject of this week’s article and now that you have read it, we hope that you will consider backing up too.

If you have experience with these or other methods / products, please leave a comment below.

Leave a Reply