Backing up Data

What options are available?

Years ago automated backups were only available to large corporations due to their cost and complexity. Luckily for us, today there are a number of solutions available to home users that allow efficient and inexpensive backups. Two great solutions are external hard drives and off-site file storage.

External hard drives are a great starting point for your large files. They allow fast backups and allow you to increase the amount of storage space as your amount of personal data grows. Backing up data to an external hard drive consists of an external disk connected to your computer via USB (or similar connection) and a software package to perform the backups and monitor your data.

Off-site file storage takes your backup an additional step. It allows you to identify your critical files and securely store them outside of your home or office. This approach provides protection in the event your computer is stolen or damaged (such as in a fire or flood.)

Why backup your data at all?

More and more of us are relying on our computers to help organize our lives and our memories. Think about the data that resides on your computer:

  • Pictures
  • Music
  • Financial data
  • Email
  • Videos
  • School or work projects
  • Applications

What can you do? recommends using an external hard drive at the absolute minimum. Once the external hard drive is setup then an off-site storage service should be considered for your most critical data.

If you are using a recent version of the Mac operating system then it comes with a backup system built-in. You simply need to provide an external hard drive and then launch the built-in program named Time Machine.  Time Machine provides a simple and automated approach to backing up your data locally.

For those readers using Windows, there are a number of applications for performing backups. If you need to purchase an external hard drive then look for one that includes a backup program.

When purchasing an external hard drive, consider the size of the data you wish to back-up. If you have 100 GB of data that you wish to backup, then consider buying a 150 GB external hard drive. This will allow your backup software to keep multiple copies of your data as you make changes (if supported by your backup application) and will give you room to grow as the amount of data you backup grows.