What if your computer breaks down tomorrow? What if you realize you need yesterday’s version of a file, but you’ve overwritten it? What if you lose your laptop or it is stolen at a cafe? In a world in which we’re all becoming increasingly dependent on the integrity and security of data storage, knowing how to perform a data backup has become essential. Today we take a look at some of the most popular strategies for data backup and storage in order to give you the opportunity to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Before we begin, though, it’s important to realize that we must first prioritize how we perform a data backup. You’re probably going to want to save word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, your band’s new songs, or the photo-editing work you’ve done over the past year. Then, depending on the backup method you use, you also need to back up recent documents so you can access different versions of relevant files. Next, you must backup application settings, favorites, and emails which most programs store inside a hidden folder called ‘Application Data’. Depending on how much space you have at your disposal, you should also save your media files and so-called ‘heirlooms’ such as old important emails and family photos. Last, but definitely not least, you will want to do a periodic system data backup. Try as you might to avoid this reality, computers will eventually fail you.
Perhaps the most important step in performing an online data backup is to select the right cloud service for your needs. Plenty of good, free options exist out there such as Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, iCloud, and so on. In-app purchases will allow you to buy more storage space. The issue with these services is that you have to perform backups manually, since they’re all essentially designed as storage services. Alternatively, you can opt for a backup-focused cloud storage solution such as CrashPlan+ or Carbonite (which requires you to pay an annual fee). They allow you to schedule periodic backups and usually offer more space than free cloud storage solutions.
Blu Ray backups must be performed manually, but they come with the important advantage of reliability. Blu Rays come with lower failure rates than external HDDs, and they also offer enough storage space to compete with them. You’re going to need a dedicated Blu Ray burner for a Blu Ray backup, since the massive amount of space these discs place at your disposal cannot be written onto a regular CD/DVD (and CD/DVD burners won’t function with a Blu Ray disc). More importantly, Blu Rays are more scratch-resistant than regular CDs and DVDs. They also tend to fare better at higher writing speeds. If you know how to write a CD, you also know how to backup Blu Ray discs because the process is pretty much the same. Select the files you want to back up, copy them into a folder, then write the Blu Ray disc.
Data Backup on External Hard Drives
External HDDs, thumb drives, backup drives, and SSD flash drives require some shopping around before you decide on a particular brand. Some come with backup software, which you can schedule; some have versioning abilities which come in very handy if you regularly work on multiple machines. Rebit, PC World’s software recommendation for backup drives, can be purchased as such. You can also download the Rebit backup software to use with an external HDD you already own. Other experts recommend flash drives, which support faster transfer speeds. The downside is that they usually have less storage space. Wondering how to backup to external hard drive? If you opt for an HDD that comes with backup storage, you can basically let the backup run in the background once you’ve set up your preferences. Manual backups require you to remember to perform this operation as you see fit (preferably at least once a month).
So what do you guys think? Have we covered all the bases of data backup, or did we miss an important element? Don’t be shy; comment on our post and share your experiences with backing things up (or not backing things up!). Better yet, why not continue the conversation on our Facebook page?