How To Back Up Your Files

Anyone who has ever lost data can tell you how devastating the experience can be. What was a normally functioning hard drive yesterday can become little more than a really, really expensive doorstop the next day. To prevent loss of your data, you need to back up your files in numerous locations.

The standard rule of backing up data is the rule of three: make sure that you back up information in at least three unique locations. Different people go about this in different ways: for some, that means a computer’s hard drive and two external hard drives. Some prefer cloud storage, others still use writable media like CD-Rs or DVD-Rs. No matter what your method is, make sure that you have three unique locations, preferably with one that is not connected to your computer.

For instance, if you are storing data on your hard drive as well as an external drive that you keep connected to your computer at all times, the third location should be either on writable media or in the cloud. This way, if your computer becomes corrupted by a virus or malware, which may affect your external drive and its data, you are sure to have at least one copy that will remain untouched, preferably far away from your home computer. This way, even if your house catches on fire and your computer and external hard drive end up being a smoldering heap of melted plastic, you have everything securely somewhere far, far away.

For PC Users:

Access Windows Backup by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, and then clicking Systems and Maintenance. Select Backup and Restore. The first time using this system, select Set up backup, and follow the steps to back up your system. Once the backup utility is set up, all you have to do is click Backup Now to back up with a single click.

For Mac Users:

Simply set up Time Machine when you set up your Mac to automatically back up files to a different hard disk, or use Disk Utility from the Utilities menu to create a new “disk image” which will be an exact duplication of your Mac hard drive.

Before you decide to backup, decide if you just want to keep key files, such as documents, images, music, and videos, or if you want to keep everything from your hard drive, including directory files and program files. Common practice is to back up only irreplaceable files. While it is nice to have an exact duplicate of your current hard drive, if your hard drive becomes corrupted, chances are, you’ll have to re-install all programs and directory files anyways, so it doesn’t always make sense to include them in a regular backup.

Remember: always try to have one backup of your files somewhere in a secure location, preferably away from your home computer, and the more regularly you back up files, the less likely you are to lose data or memories that are important to you!

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