One of the best things you can do to protect your PC is to perform regular backups. Nightly backups are best – that’s how almost all business operate (some businesses go one step further and do backups every hour!). But for home use this is a bit of a burden, so you should be doing weekly backups, at least.

external drive There are so many ways these days to do a backup. Some common methods are:

  • Copy your important files to a flash drive. Flash drives are so cheap these days, they’re reliable and are large enough to hold your most important documents. Backing up is just a matter of dragging your files across using something like Windows Explorer (or the equivalent in your OS)
  • Using a built-in backup program. I personally don’t like built-in backup programs, they’re often tricky to use and don’t offer enough features. But systems like Windows come with a built in backup program so you could begin by using it.
  • 3rd party backup programs – this is where you get the most value. For a modest fee you can purchase a backup program that will get the job done how you want. I prefer Acronis TrueImage Home because:
  • It backs up everything, a complete image of my PC. There won’t be anything left out, and if my hard drive dies I can restore the system exactly how it was
  • It’s simple to use
  • It has so many features that as my needs change it will be able to provide the backups I need
  • It’s not very expensive
  • Internet backups – there are now many backup systems that store your files somewhere on the internet. The idea is that if everything in your home disappears (e.g. by theft or fire), your data is somewhere on the internet and you can restore it when you have a new PC. These are great for many people. E.g.
  • Having a good backup is extremely important. There are so many things that can go wrong with computers, from hard drive crashes, theft, to malware that takes your files hostage. Having a backup is common sense, it’s a cheap simple insurance against all the things that can go wrong.

    You should also have more than one backup. Using external drives is a good option these days, they’re affordable, and you can keep one at a friend or relative’s house as added insurance.

    How not to do backups:

    • RAID (disk mirroring, or disk striping) is not a backup. It’s a form of data redundancy, there’s a fundamental difference.
    • Overwriting backups – if you only have one backup and you overwrite it every time you do another backup, there’s a brief moment where you have no backups (during the backup itself). I’ve seen it before, the computer dies half way through a backup and you’re left without a working computer and with half a backup. This is no good.
    • Relying on Windows System Restore is not good enough. There are still so many things that can go wrong and leave you without your previous files, photos, etc.

    So how do you do backups? Post your comments below. We’re also running a poll on backups.

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