This is the Age of Information. Computers are a way of life. The brain is becoming less and less of a storage device with easy recall than the computer. Almost all our life experiences, photographs, videos of events, social and professional interactions, financial transactions, and so on are more reliably stored and retrieved on the computer than through any other means. The computer data is of vital and invaluable importance to home business entrepreneurs, artists, writers, students as well as the homebody.
The loss of data could be a harrowing experience. And this could happen to a number of reasons – virus attack, inadvertent deletions, malfide intentions, failure of hard disks or physical damage through mishandling, fire or flooding (or water ingress through spillage of liquids like drinks – oh yes, they do happen). This however, could easily be avoided by backing up data at regular intervals. Most of us just don’t bother to do it either because we are too lazy, ignorant of the process, or scared of a massive foul-up.
Here are 7 ways of backing up data. Take your pick, but do it – an ounce of prevention is worth of regret.
1. Back up on Portable Storage Devices
These portable storage devices are easy to set up and are often of the plug-and-play type. You first select the data, prioritize what you need, organise these into a folder filing system and transfer them to the storage device. You can set a schedule by reminding yourself to do it (leaving it open to doing it “as time permits”, or never), or using a suitable scheduling program to do it automatically. The only drawback is that the method is limited by the storage capacity of the device.
Some Portable Storage Devices
o USB Flash Drive or Pen Drive or Thumb Drives
- Their small size make them very portable and transportable
- Earlier limited to a few GBs, they now come in ever increasing capacities (16, 32, 64, and now, even 256 GB)
- These are generally plug-and-play types with in-built backup software and USB 3.0
- Kingston, SanDisk, Verbatim, Corsair, Transcend, HP are among the top brands
- The drives are becoming cheaper and more reliable by the day
o CDs/DVDs/BluRay Disk
- Relatively cheap but the storage capacity is limited – 700/900 MB for CDs and 1.4/9 GB for DVDs
- The back up data has to be burned into the disks
- A CD/DVD/BluRay writer is required for backing up
- Not suitable for large amount of data
- Have to be physically stored in a safe storage place
o External Hard Drives
- These are generally wired devices but also come with a USB 3.0 capability
- Storage capacities can range from 1 TB to 3 TB
- Hardy and good for large data storage requirements
- Seagate and LaCie are some well-known brands
o Another Computer
- This could be another computer or laptop whose hard disk can be used to back up data
- Disadvantage of eating up space of other computer and danger of crashing of back up computer
2. Back up on Cloud
o There are a number of on-line “Cloud” services which offer storage space to back up your data
o A limited free space is available on services like Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, Apple Cloud, etc on which you can back up your data. These give limited services.
o Paid services offer more space and added services but the free service option is enough for most home use.
o Has the advantage of synchronising your data from various locations so the location or source of the data is not important
o Your data is safe even if your computer is destroyed
o Runs the risk of the site closing.
3. Using System Restore/Back up
o This feature is available in Windows OS.
o The system restore feature enables recovery after a crash, operating error or virus attack.
o The back up feature available has to be set manually in Accessories / System Tools in Start menu.
o You have to manually select your reset point. The computer recovers the data which it had automatically backed up.
4. File History on Windows
You can back up your files using Windows File History feature.
o For this an external drive or an accessible network folder is required.
o Turn on File History after plugging in the external drive and click the turn on button.
o Network Drive can be selected through “Add network” option.
o You can opt to connect all your Home Group Computers to be backed up if you want.
o Configure your advanced settings to set the period and frequency of storage
o Move all files you want to back up into your Library folders. File History automatically backs up all the files in the Library folders.
5. Time Machine on Mac
The Time Machine feature automatically backs up all data on to an external drive.
o Connect a formatted external drive.
o Click “Use as Backup Disk” when dialog box opens, else select it from Preferences screen
o Time Machine starts automatically, It makes backup copies every hour. It saves an hourly copy for the last 24 hours and a monthly copy for the preceding month.
6. The NAS
NAS stands for Network Assisted Storage Device and is a very effective means of data back up. Essentially your PC or home group is connected to this device through wi-fi or networking. The NAS acts like an external drive. It can be set to automatically schedule the back up of data and is excellent for small business groups.
7. The RAID
Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks – that’s RAID for you. It consists of two identical disks which make two identical copies of all your data essentially “mirroring” the data. The RAID arrays come in-built in the PC; but external box variants are also available. In case of damage to one disk, it can be recovered from the surviving disk. Of course a virus attack makes both disks vulnerable.
Now that you are aware of the ways to back up your data, remember also the “Rule of Threes” in back up philosophy – make a back up of the backup. This way you have the original and two backups to fall back on.