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What you need to know about computer backup

Working in IT I constantly come across people who have computer trouble. Most cases require wiping the computer clean and reinstalling Windows, this fixes 99% of the computer problems I deal with. However, most people NEVER have their information backed up. Big mistake!

Everyone has something on their computer that they would hate to lose. Whether it is your resume, household budget, pictures of your kids, recipes, music, movies, phone numbers, or even your entire business, you simply must backup your information. You know that old saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” most people don’t realize this until their computer crashes, then it becomes all too clear.

Why should I backup?

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The question is not “if” your computer fails, but “when.” Let’s face it; Windows will fail at some point. Guaranteed! Things like spyware, viruses, registry problems as well countless other random Windows issues that could render your hard drive completely useless. Hard drives do physically fail, but usually it is something with Windows that gets hosed up. Disaster happens; it may be a natural disaster, fire or even something simple like a game your kid loaded. You need to be ready when disaster does happen, expect the worst.

Think about it for a second, say you logged on to your computer this morning and nothing was there? What would you lose? Would you even know what all was on there? How much would it cost to get everything back? How much time would it take? Would you trust the people at Geek Squad to get it back for you without missing anything?

Can’t someone recover my information?

Computer Backup
Sure, there are places out there that can do data recovery, but this is very EXPENSIVE. If you do a regular computer backup, you can keep your important information safe and it will save you time, money and headaches in the future.

The idea is to have anything that is important in at least two places. The more the better, three places would be ideal. This way if one fails, you can access the information at an alternate location. It’s rare that both would fail at the same time, but it is possible. What if your house burned down? Having two backups wouldn’t do any good. That’s why online or offsite backups become quite valuable.

What should I use for computer backup?

computer backup

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Storage is getting very inexpensive. Most people could go out and buy a USB drive for under #2000 that should be big enough to store all of their data. Heck, buy two and use one to store a backup copy at work. For those who have more information, there are bigger drives that are still relatively cheap. There are also places online that you can backup your computer. Worse case scenario burn your stuff on to DVD or CDRs. But you simply must backup regularly to something.

What should I backup?

computer backup

You should be backing up anything that is important to you. Things such as Word documents, spreadsheets, emails, photos, music, and movies are essential to backup. Anything that you have paid for and downloaded such as music, apps, games, etc. should be backed up. How much have you spent on iTunes? How would you like to have to spend that money again?

Most software you can reload from the original discs, so you don’t really need to worry about backing up software, apps, or games if you still have the discs. But do you have the discs? Make sure that you keep anything that you’ve downloaded stored somewhere safe in case you have to restore it. Just think of it like getting a new computer, where will you get everything to put back onto it, you certainly don’t want to pay twice for things.

The other thing that is very important to computer backup is all of your passwords and favorites. What if you couldn’t login to all of your sites? Make sure to keep a password protected master list of all of your important passwords and codes and keep this file backed up as well.

Make sure to store all of your information in one easy to access place like My Documents. Inside of My Documents there are folders such as My Music or My Pictures, make sure to use these folders. Create new ones if you need to. This way you can just copy the My Documents folder every so often and it will include all of your important information. If you are saving information in multiple locations all scattered across your hard drive it makes backing up the information much more difficult.

I don’t know how to backup my computer?

computer backup

There is a ton of software out there to help you with backups and many of these USB drives will come with something that helps you backup your data. Most of the time it is just a matter of copying the files, and pasting them into the new location. But if you don’t know how to backup, Google it or ask someone how to do it. It is worth your time and effort to learn how to backup your data.

How often should I backup?

The frequency of the backup is up to you. The longer you go, the more risk of losing information. Set yourself a regular schedule such as weekly or monthly. If you do a lot on your computer, maybe daily backup would be best. Any time you download a batch of new photos, or downloaded a bunch of new music, or if you’ve just written something in Word or a spreadsheet, or at tax time, these are all good reasons to do a backup.

There are IT people out there who can get your computer up and running again, but it is not their responsibility to track down files on your computer that are important to you. Sure, they can try and guess where your files are and what you need backed up. But it is really your responsibility. Only you know what you cannot live without, make sure that it is backed up.

What are some of your techniques for backing up your computer?

If you know of any other computer backup techniques, let me know via the comments section below.

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