What is a backup?
Hard drives store your data magnetically. The surface of the hard disk is made of aluminum and the data is stored and indexed magnetically. Generally speaking a backup can be any extra copy of your data and include documents, photos and music etc., along with your Contacts and Favorites etc. Hard drives are very volatile and subject to electrical shocks and shortages that occur often. Such electrical issues can de-magnetise a disk and data can be lost. After frequent shocks or shortages a hard disk can fail and seize up, and again the data is lost.
If you only have one copy of your data, you are asking for data loss. This is a fact of computing.
What should I backup?
A proper backup should include other things such as your system files so that in the event of a crash, you can get back up and running as close to the good state of your system as possible.
What is the best way to back up my data?
A professional backup should use a system called an Image backup.
This means the software used, makes an ‘image’ of your system at that point -and then stores it.That image includes every part of the system including log in details and your personal configuration of the system.
Alternatively cloud backup systems are very good and cost little. I recommend the one on my webpage from Livedrive which starts at around £6 per month for massive storage.
What do I need to buy to get started?
A good backup does not reside on your system hard drive. It should be on an external source of storage. I recommend a USB external hard drive. Smaller memory sticks and DVD disks are limited in capacity. Also a good backup system is done regularly perhaps daily, by a scheduled process. That way it becomes routine and automatic, not manual. It’s so easy to forget to do it.
A good external hard drive should be around 1 TB in capacity or larger. This allows for several backups to be stored for greater security. Good backup software will backup ‘incrementally’ so that only new data is backed up in addition to what is already done. Typically a Windows PC can backup in about 20 minutes the whole system from the previous days’ backup.
The best software for automatic backup is without doubt Acronis True Image but the free Todo Backup program from Easeus is also very good indeed. . There are some other free software programs out there too that are fairly good but not as easy to use and navigate. Considering your data is precious then spending on decent backup software is a good investment.
There are services available that offer backup to the cloud, which stores your data on internet rented space. This can be useful but bear in mind that your network (router and data allowance) is in use for the whole backup period -at the speed of your network. Also your data is then only accessible via your password and account being kept up to date and paid. Space online is not always cheap. Having your backups physically to hand is vital when it comes to restoring that data later on should issues arise.