All computer owners are quite unique and their
approach to backups may well be as just as unique. We have prepared
this article for our eProphet.NET users and we will
detail a number of different methods, options and explanations for
backing up your critical data and personal items.
“Why do I need to back up my data?” The best response is “losing all your data can be totally catastrophic.”
There is no worse outcome than losing all your critical data due to a systems failure. There is nothing is feared more by an I.T professional than taking a call from a frustrated client asking if you can fix their PC issue — occasionally the end result is the total loss of all their data because there was no effective backup solution in place.
Just imagine loosing thousands of pictures, thousands of music tracks and all those DVD’s that took hours to burn to your hard drive. Imagine precious family pictures, emails, financial records, eBooks and the list goes on, all gone forever. Years of your life totally wiped from existence.
Our eProphet.NET clients have an internal back up system within the software that performs automated backup of critical eProphet.NET store systems data on a daily basis. This backup is then encrypted and automatically transferred off site to secure data storage. Data can generally be quickly retrieved by Abcom and restored to either a replacement PC.
This is a great system and of course only works well when a PC is permanently connected to the Internet. But, in these modern times with smaller and more portable notebook computers this is not always a “silver bullet” solution. Disconnect your PC from the Net for a day or two, leave it on the back seat of the car overnight and vital scheduled backups conditional on your PC being turned on and online can be missed.
The problem of poor backup habits is often not even a laziness issue; it is often simply just a lack of simple computer knowledge. What files should you back up? How exactly do you back them up, and from where to where? How often?
With your average PC hard drives are now approaching 750GB in size some even larger. Making that decision as to exactly what exactly to back up might seem like a very daunting task. Some PC users will just clone the entire drive. Others perform a full backup. Then some will tell you to just copy the files you want onto another disk or flash drive or preferably an external hard drive.
Disk Cloning/Imaging: Using a third party application like Acronis True Image 2012 to copy the entire contents of your hard drive to another hard drive…an exact duplicate, or “drive image”. Sounds like an easy fix, right? If you have a catastrophe, simply swap your cloned backup drive image and problem instantly solved.
Selective Backups: The simplest method one could use. All that it requires is some sort of secondary storage device like a flash drive, external hard drive CD or DVD etc. All you need do is simply copy anything you want backed up onto this device or disk. You cannot set up a schedule or perform any incremental backups; it is up to you to decide when to copy your data. An incremental back up is where only the files that have changed since your last backup are copied or backed up.
Full Backups: This type of backup copies all of the files and computer settings that you specify and puts them on the storage medium you have selected. There is an extension to this—referred to as Incremental backups. Incremental backups copy only the data that has changed since the last backup and appends it to the master backup file.
Acronis can be configured to perform an incremental back and will continually back the system up when your PC is not being used or in standby mode. Generally a comprehensive Backup routine can be found in your Windows software. Check your version to see what may be available.
Once we have determined what we want to back up, the next question is where to back it up or store it? This would depend largely on your needs, your system and how it is set up, and the volume of data. Ideally, a second hard disk in your machine or on another computer on your network, if you have one, is the best choice. Below are several solutions that may suite different set ups:
Single Computer one hard drive
Burn your backup onto CD’s, (around 700 megabytes) or better still a much a larger dual layered DVD (around 9 gigabytes.). Consider adding a second HDD, either an internal hard drive or a portable external hard drive. You may even be able to back your hard drive to a larger Flash Drive e.g. 64GB. Generally external hard drives are cheaper and much larger and a quality external drive stats at around $90 for around 1000 gigabytes (One terabyte.) Many come with free backup and restore applications included.
Single Computer, 2 hard drives:
Install your Operating System and all Applications onto the smaller of the two drives. Store the less important and bulky items, like music, on your second larger drive, and then back up valuable data from the first drive to the second drive at scheduled times as well.
Two Computers on a small home network:
You can backup machine one to machine two, and vice-versa. The first PC has an area set aside as backup space for the second computer and the second machine has the same for set aside the first PC. You could consider adding an additional drive to the faster of the two machines and setting it up as it as the backup storage location for both your machines.
Online Backups or Cloud Storage:
A number of Cloud Based providers such as Dropbox, Iobit and Amazon will offer a Cloud based (internet storage) ranging from free to a significant monthly fee. Generally you can access your stored files or backups from other computers or link them all together for one common access. Most free providers will limit your free storage to a smaller amount say around 2 gigabytes. This is not sufficient in size for a full back up or cloned version of your PC. Research these offerings, most offer a great free service and many you can link to your smart phone to back up your phone contents to. Caution, select a reputable Cloud solution, there is no guarantee that one day the Company and your stored data might just disappear.
These are only suggestions, if you are still not sure of the best method or routine to back up your critical data or systems then engage an I.T professional to tailor a routine to suit the level of protection you need.
Periodically check your backups to ensure they have not stopped occurring for some unknown reason.
Two hundred dollars spent engaging an I.T professional to set up a backup solution and the purchase an external hard drive will be the best insurance policy money can ever buy.