Back-Up Your Files

Today, it seems that everyone’s collection of multimedia files is growing rapidly.  It is not uncommon, for computer users to have huge collections of music MP3s, movies, family videos, digital photos, and much more all residing on their shrinking hard drives.  As rapidly as hard drives in computers have grown, collections of multimedia files have also grown.  Not only are most people’s hard drives becoming very full of these digital files, but many of them, such as family pictures, are priceless and cannot be restored if lost.  Thus, it is ever more important now to have a backup hard drive solution.  Luckily, the price for hard drives has decreased substantially the past few years.  Today, hard drives come in numerous sizes and shapes formats and prices.

There are many ways you can accidentally lose vital information on your computer.  One of your kids manhandling your PC, a surge in electricity at your home, a nearby lightning strike, or flooding of your home.  There are also those times when your equipment (such as a hard drive) simply fail.

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The best thing you can do is be disciplined and make regular backup copies of your most important files and keep them separate (preferably, off-site).  This way, if your primary hard drive fails, you stand a good chance to be able to restore your lost data from your backup hard drive.  There are many efficient back up solutions to help you protect your files.  External hard drives, burning CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMS, Zip Drives, Network Drives, are a few examples of back-up devices.  The most robust solution is a Network Attached Storage (NAS) hard drive – that is an external hard drive connected to your wireless network allowing you to back-up files wirelessly from any computer in your home — check out the latest Network Attached Storage Drives .

One of the easiest ways to backup your important files, without purchasing additional devices or installing complicated programs on your computer is to backup your files to a virtual online server.  This is also known as backup up to the “virtual cloud” and is very easy and probably the most flexible option.  Find out more about backing up your files to a virtual server .

Deciding what to back up can be a difficult task – especially if your PC is not well organized.  Anything that is of value to you or your family, or data that you cannot replace easily should be backed up.  Before you begin your backup, make a checklist of which folders and files to back up. These are examples of files you might want to backup:

• Bank records, tax records, or other financial information

• Digital photographs

• Software you purchased and downloaded from the Internet

• Music files or music libraries you purchased and downloaded

• Your e-mail address book and your email personal folders (such as outlook .pst file)

• School files or business documents

• Internet Explorer bookmarks

How long has it been since your last backup?  How much information information would you lose today if your computer crashed? What if your PC got infected with a virus? What if your neighborhood was hit by a natural disaster such as a tornado or a flood?  Any backup plan is your way to control risk. Depending on the frequency of your backup, you decide whether you will risk losing one day, or one week, or more data – instead of losing it all.  When creating your backup plan, think about how much risk you are willing to assume.  We recommend backing up your My Documents folder, your email .PST (if you use Outlook), your music and movies, and your digital photos collection.

Now that you have identified the files you would like backup and the location where they are on your hard drive, it is time to develop a plan on how to back these files up.  Some people prefer an automated backup solution where an external hard drive is connected to the computer and automatically copies certain files from the PC to the backup hard drive on a regular basis such as once a week or once a month.  Others, prefer a manual solution where they manually copy certain files and folders from their PCs to their backup hard drives on dates and times of their choosing.  And lastly, some users will actually create an exact copy the image of their entire hard drive and backup the entire hard drive on a periodic basis.  This last option is more time-consuming, slightly more complicated, and certainly will take up much more space on that external hard drive.  However, the imaging option is the most robust backup solution because you have elected to backup the entire hard drive as opposed to some of the files you deem as crucial.  Depending on which of these three options you choose, you will have to decide on which software to use.

Many of these external hard drives come bundled with backup software.  However, many times this backup software is the trial version only and to use or unlock all of its features incurs additional cost or subscription.  There are several reliable backup programs such as Memeo and Acronis True Image .  Alternatively, there are data synchronization programs that go beyond just a simple copy and paste of the files on one Hard Drive and replacing them on another Hard Drive.  Acronis True Image offers the most comprehensive backup solution and their imaging software is our program of choice.  We recommend at least once performing a complete image of your hard drive – Acronis True Image also allows you to create a bootable restore disk, something that Vista does not provide inherently.  Armed with the imaged backup and the full (bootable) restore disk, you are ready for any data emergency!

Data synchronization, compares files in the folder is that you have selected it been checks to see if the files have changed or are different, and if one file is more current or has been updated since the last one was jacked it then copies the file over.  By synchronizing hard drives, you can save time by not having to copy every single file over every time you backup.  Instead the synchronization software simply compares files and only copies those that have changed.  Syncback is an excellent free data synchronization program that will allow you to sync up your current PCs hard drive and your backup hard drive.

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Once you have identified the software you would like to use in the frequency and method that you would like to copy or backup your software, all you have to do now is stickier plan and be disciplined in your backup habits.  In this case, the automated solution is easiest because you will not have to involve yourself in this process once you set it up and configure it.  Once you have implemented a backup solution you can rest assured that your files will be redundant and secure even if there is catastrophic hard drive failure on one machine.

    Simple Steps for a Backup Solution


  1. The first thing to consider when creating a backup solution, is what files do you need to back up?  You will need to identify where exactly on your hard drive those files are located prior to backing them up.  Ideally, these important files, such as financial records, family photos, and personal and work related documents, will all be located in or near the same folder on your hard drive. One folder that everyone should consider backing up is the “My Documents” folder — which is where most people put these common files.  Obviously, family photos, family videos, and other important files will not be located in this folder; so you must identify which other folders you need to back up as well. Also, don’t forget about any files that you have downloaded from the internet; usually those files are saved in the “Downloads” folder of your profile.  You will want to back up this folder too.
  2. Now that you have identified the files and folders that you need to back up, you will need to find the appropriate software to use so that you can regularly back up these files and folders in the easiest and most convenient matter.  We strongly recommend using the free program called “SyncBack”, which allows you to synchronized folders between your personal computer and your back up hard drive.  We favor using synchronization software because it will only copy and back up files that have changed and leave the unchanged files alone.  This does minimizing the number of files that need to be backed up.  The last thing you need to do now is to remember to run your synchronization or back up software regularly.


Want more details on how to shop for a Backup Hard Drive and how to decide on a backup plan? Check out our latest article on how to select a best Backup Hard Drive.  Don’t want to purchase additional devices or complicated software? Find out more about backing up your files to a virtual server .  Check out our latest offer – free online backup storage!

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