Backup Options


Backup.  Backup.  Backup.  If you have important data on your computer (and who doesn’t?) you must backup.  There are several ways to backup your data.  The easiest is online using Carbonite or Acronis, or Norton 360.  Both of these programs will automatically backup your data to an off-site server location.  It’s easy and once setup you need do nothing.  The downside is that if you need to restore the data due to a hard drive crash or for some other reason, it is extremely slow.  A normal amount of data may take 12 hours or more to restore.  In addition, off-site does not mean always accessible as a small error by an Amazon employee proved recently.  An employee error during a normal process brought businesses to a halt as their data became inaccessible. 

A slightly less simple alternative is to backup to an external hard drive. External hard drives are available at office supply and electronics stores and generally run in the $70 range and up.  Although many of them come with backup software, the software is only accessible from the external hard drive and if that software becomes corrupt there may be no way to fix it and no way to retrieve your backup.  So, again I recommend Acronis or Norton 360 to perform the backup, because you can set them to backup to the external drive automatically.  Once set,they will perform incremental backups. And because they are installed on your computer, as long as you have a computer available you can reinstall and retrieve your backup.  Another note:  You should remove your hard drive to an offsite location on a regular basis or whenever your office or home will be unattended.

Some people have only a few files they want to back up and they want high portability for those files.  For them a flash drive is the best option.  Small and durable it can fit in a pocket, on a key ring, or anywhere else you might put it.  Cheaper flash drives require you to copy the files manually to the drive which is more difficult than using an automatic system.  The U3 operating system which is sold on some higher-priced flash drives allows you to run backup programs from the flash drive.  One manufacturer, SanDisk, sells drives with backup software, and they are the brand I use and recommend.  This type of backup is most suitable for documents because documents take up far less space than pictures, videos, or music, and fit well on these miniature drives.

What do I use?  I use Norton 360 and Acronis to backup to an external hard drive with redundant disks.  I keep important information on a flash drive.  And I have another computer on which I load data that is essential to my life.  Few need the amount of backup I use, but you do need something.  If you are not currently backing up your data, please consider doing so immediately.  

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