Back it up!

I have to deal with helping people recover something on their computer almost every week. It can be because of something as simple as accidently saving a document over a good version or as complicated as a failed hard drive. Regardless of the cause, having a good – working – backup system makes getting your data back quicker and cheaper.

There are two type of backup systems that I’m going to cover here: local disk-based backup and online backup services. You really should have both in place to be sure you’re covered.

Local disk-based backup requires that you purchase an external USB hard drive and some backup software. The hard drive needs to be at least as large as the amount of data you plan to back up. I recommend getting one that exceeds the total capacity of the hard drive(s) in your computer. Doing so might allow enough storage space to save more than one version of the backup – in case you need to go back further than your last backup. This is by far the quickest and easiest way to get your files back. If your computer got stolen or damaged in a fire, then you’d be out of luck without a secondary offsite (or online) backup.

New online backup services are popping up all the time, but two of the more well-known ones are Mozy and Carbonite. With these services, you download a small program that runs in the background and automatically backs up your data to their secure servers on the Internet. One additional benefit to these services is that you can generally access your files from anywhere with an Internet connection. So if you were away from your computer you could still get a copy of an important document.

You can try to set all of this up on your own, but having somebody familiar with the technology is definitely recommended. It would do you no good to spend all that time and money just to discover it doesn’t work when you actually needed it. And you definitely don’t want to learn how much you needed a backup system after you lost everything, either – so get your data backed up today!

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