How to quickly and easily backup your important data
Posted by Aaron Klein on 19 September 2013 01:30 PM
If someone thinks about backing up their data it is often a thought that is met with confusion and fear as to not knowing where to start or how to do it properly. The purpose of this article is to debunk some common backup misconceptions and outline a successful backup strategy that will leave the user with the knowledge that their most important information is safe and secure.
Common misconceptions about backing up your data
Debunking the misconceptions
The basics of backing up
At the heart of it a backup is simply a copy of a file in a separate location. Let’s say you download a song off the internet. You place the song on your computer under the My Music folder. At some point you have a drive issue that causes you to no longer have access to the file. Without having a second copy of this file you will need to download the file again off the internet and if you cannot prove you purchased it before you may have to purchase it a second time.
To back up this song all you need to do is copy the file that is in your My Music folder to another location, this could be a USB thumb drive, an external hard drive or a cloud based account. Should you then lose access to the original file on your computer all you need to do is copy the file from your backup location back to your computer. I have heard some people saying that after they backup their files to another drive they delete them from their computer to save space. If you do this your backup instantly becomes your original as you no longer have two copies of the file but again only one copy and in the event your 'backup' fails you once again lose the file as you have no other copy of it.
For a file to truly be backed up there must be at least two copies of the file on two separate forms of storage. This can be your computer’s hard drive and a USB flash drive. Ideally these two forms of storage are also not kept together. For example if you store your backups on a flash drive that you keep in your laptop bag and the laptop bag becomes misplaced then you have lost the original and the backup. At a minimum the backup device should be kept in your room but totally separate from your computer itself. Ideally the backup would be kept outside your room in the event that something should occur to everything that is in your room.
This is where online backup services come into play. They have many benefits but the biggest one of them is the physical distance between your backup copies of the files and the originals on your computer. Another benefit to the online providers is that you have access to the backup files from anywhere as long as you have internet access.
Methods of backing up your data
What files should I backup?
Think about what files you would rather not lose. They will likely include items you have saved in your Documents, Music, Videos and Photos libraries. There may be programs you have purchased off the internet and downloaded. For applications you have purchased you should backup the installer files and any activation or unlock codes that may be needed. You do not need to backup installed applications or operating system files. In the event of a hard drive failure the base operating system can be reinstalled from your backup of Windows and applications you may own can be reinstalled from backup installers. One down side to the Windows Backup utility is that you have to have a working install of Windows before you can use the backup utility to restore your files.
Securing your backups
Once you being to back up your important files you should think about securing your backup. In general you should store your backup in a separate physical location than your main computer. In the event something occurs to your main computer having the backup stored separate will assure that your backup is safe. Consider storing your backup in a lock box that is water and fire resistant. If you are storing your files online does the online provider encrypt your information? If they do not you may want to consider encrypting your files before you upload them to the online backup provider. This will likely make an automatic backup ineffective so we would suggest using an online provider only if they encrypt your files during the backup process.