Tech Thursday – Backup

Honestly, it almost feels funny to post this. However, it is a real issue for anyone with a computer. I am talking about the importance of backing up the data on your computer.

I have already posted about a great tool for online backup here. There are other services as well. I also use MobileMe from Apple to back up my personal data and photos because of the seamless way it syncs and integrates with the devices I use. Online backup is useful and secure.

I am also an advocate for hard data local backup of computers.

I heard someone say today that their harddrive was making a strange noise so it was time to back up their data. They are correct. However, that is not the time to first think about it. (Full disclosure: I have no idea if that was the first time for backing up their computer or just a reminder to do so again in case the drive gives out.)

In the past month, I have helped two individuals quickly and easily start on a new computer with all of the data from their previous computer. One had the abrupt switch due to the theft of their laptop and the other due to a hardware failure. Both were ready for the unexpected events because they had recent back us of their data.

Computers are great. They help us organize, connect, and get more done each day. They do break and things do happen. When these events occur, they are either catastrophic or just an inconvenience. The difference lies solely in the existence and efficiency of the back up system that was or was not n place prior.

If you do not have a current back up of your computer, it would be highly beneficial to purchase an external harddrive very soon and back up everything. What software you use is dependent upon your operating system. If you are using Mac OS 10.5 or later, you already have the needed software with Time Machine. It just takes a few minutes to set up and every time you are connected to that harddrive you will have an automatic incremental back up of your computer including applications, preferences, email, etc.

If you are using an older version of Mac OS or are using a Windows operating system, there are many options available.

Some external harddrives come preloaded with backup software and a few even offer “OneTouch” back up by pressing a button on the harddrive’s enclosure. There is an abundance of software available at differing price points that will accomplish this on any operating system.

The simple point is, find a backup solution and stick with it. You don’t want to be the one that has something happen to your computer and you are left with all your data, photographs, music, etc. lost forever.

I have never lost an entire computer’s worth of data without a backup. I have lost a significant amount of data due to a system crash and not having a recent enough back up of the needed data. Now, I make sure that there is a backup, no more than a day or so old available at any time. Again, there are software solutions for this. The best I am aware of for the Mac is Time Machine. Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate editions offer a similar feature as well. There are others.

What are your experiences with computer backups, or lack of?

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