Data Backup

Internal view of a computer Hard Disc Drive for backup
We all know it makes sense to keep a backup of files and photographs from your computer but all too many times we find people don’t!

Many commercial programs are available that seemingly handle backup of your files, but what we find all too often is that the backup is created in an obscure format, or that multiple backups are created until an external device is completely full (Windows backup likes to do that – I frequently get customers believing they need a larger hard drive, only to find that it is full of 10 year old backups!).

Windows backup is generally set to back-up data to the same hard drive meaning that if the hard drive fails – The data gets lost (Our data recovery can help with that however). A better backup solution would also allow you to browse each individual file and folder in the backup.

A backup to an external drive would always be preferable, but be aware that hard drives are very fragile, vibration, a bump or a knock and especially a drop risks you rendering the drive useless, which isn’t good if that’s your main backup of photographs going back to 1960. Hard drives are also susceptible to magnetic fields, so keep them away from any such sources, i.e speakers or power supplies/transformers. As a ‘just in case’ measure keep the files on your computer as well as the backup drive.

Of course there are many online backup services available, some of them work pretty good and the fact that your data is stored elsewhere is often preferable.
Many of them are free but as you back up more and more files you might find that they want some cash (not unreasonable since they do have to provide drive space at their side for your data as well as bandwidth). Bandwidth in this case is the quantity of data that is transferred over the internet so be aware that if you’re not on an unlimited package, your ISP might also want to bill you extra.
If you do go down the remote backup route, research the company you’re dealing with – be sure they’re legitimate and check out how your data is stored, and what happens IF they too have a problem. (I used something similar some 5 years ago – they lost my data AND the backups they kept of my data!). Other questions you need to ask are how you would go about getting your data from them in the event of a hard drive failure.

Personally I now use my own in-house solution which regularly synchronizes my data to a remote site (Which I also have physical access to). It works very well but unfortunately due to limitations in Microsoft Windows it’s only practical on Linux machines at this time.

My advice would be get a decent quality external drive and backup manually the files and folders that are important to you, be they photographs, documents or…. I once had a customer here for data recovery after his drive had been posted back from abroad – his most important files were ‘old episodes of Top Gear’!
Backing up manually to external drive means you can keep track by browsing the actual drive yourself. Good advice should you go down this route is backup – and then categorize and organize your files, making it easier to find the data you need when you need it!

At this time I’m trialing many of the backup programs that can be used within windows – I can’t say I’ve found one that’s perfect and until I do it’ll be drag and drop to an external drive. If you have a more modern computer it’ll have USB3, so look out for a USB3 drive – they’re a LOT faster that the older ones.
Should you just have a small quantity of files to backup you may even be able to get away with using a USB memory stick.

If you’re unsure, feel free to give us a call or pop into the Bedlington Shop.

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