Back It Up!

February 11, 2009
Everyone intends to back up their important data, but few people actually follow through on it. We see it all the time. We’ve seen a couple of examples this week alone.

One of our customers had a hard drive crash and had not backed up anything. Although we have a good record of data recovery on failed hard drives, sometimes the data is just not recoverable. That was the case here. He lost everything.

Another of our customers is a real estate agent. They share a group of computers. She had a bunch of important documents stored on one of these computers. Someone else in the office, apparantly with a grudge of some sort, deleted all of her data and emptied the recycle bin. We weren’t called in until a couple of days later to try and recover the data. We were able to recover some of it, but most of it was lost. Had we been called immediately, we could have recovered more. And, of course, she had no back up at all.

Whether you use a shared computer or your own computer, you should have some sort of backup of your important data.

There are many different types of backups and many different ways to back up. Our favorite type of backup is the image backup. This type of backup takes a complete snapshot of your computer. If your hard drive crashes, this picture can be put on a new hard drive and installed on your computer. Then the computer will boot up as if nothing bad ever happened. You don’t have to reinstall Windows or all of your programs. This type of backup needs to be saved to a second or external hard drive because it is big.

The other type of backup is a file backup. This type of backup backs up important files. If you have a hard drive crash, you have to install the new hard drive, reinstall Windows, and reinstall all of your programs, but your important data is safe.

There are many ways to create a file backup, both manual and automatic and many different types of media you can back up to. Everyone should be doing a file backup at the very least. Important data to back up includes e-mail, contacts, calendar, documents, spreadsheets, financial data (Quicken, Quickbooks, Peachtree, etc), photos, music, and much more. Any piece of information that you don’t want to lose.

 
How you back up and what media you back up to depends on what you are backing up, how big it is, how important it is, and how often it changes. It also depends on how regimented you are on backing up.

This is a very large subject and I can’t visit every possibility in this article, but I wanted to mention a few important things.

The ultimate backup strategy is to have an image backup to a secondary drive (internal or external) coupled with a remote backup (back up over the internet). This is complete protection and provides the quickest way to get your computer back online when the hard drive dies. It is a total system backup locally, but still protects you with remote backup in case both your computer and the local backup are destroyed, in a house fire, for example.

 
You can just do remote backups if the amount of data you are backing up isn’t huge.
You can also back up to USB drives, also known as flash drives, jump drives, and thumb drives. The prices of these drives have come way down in the last couple of years. I bought a 2GB flash drive for $65 in 2006. Now you can buy a 4GB drive for $10. And you can get them as big as 64GB these days. Those, of course, cost more. Around $130.
 
The point is, a USB flash drive is cheap and can hold a lot of data. They are easy to use too. Much easier than burning to CD’s. And they hold a lot more data. a 4GB flash drive holds about five and a half times more data than a CD. And since they are so cheap, you can get several of them and back your data up to 2. Keep one at the house and one at the office. Or keep one in a saftey deposit box or at a friend or relative’s house. Just in case.
 
And did we mention you should back up your data?

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