Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Backing Up Your Computer

Nowadays, anyone who uses a computer probably has some awareness that it is important to back up your data.  How many of us actually do this?

There are many ways to back up your data.  So why is it that most people don't back up?  And I mean from the layman to the professional?  And what are the different ways in which you can back up?

Different Backup Methods
Hard drives are relatively cheap today, and you can purchase an external one.  You can also back up your files online.  Let's look at the various ways.
  1. Manually - that is, you can copy your file to a different location.  Now if you copy it to another folder on the same hard drive, that is just about as swift as having a backup house on coastal Japan, down the street from your primary residence.
  2. Automatically - you have some software that keeps things backed up in the background.
  3.  Backed up to a hard disk (could be a USB drive for example, or across the network - I currently use both).
  4. Backed up to CD/DVD.
  5. Backed up online.
Why One Over The Other?
What are the problems with these that would keep you from backing up regularly?
  • Manual means you have to remember to back it up - big pitfall!
  • Online you have to pay a recurring fee, and typically have a size limit.  They don't back up everything, by the way!
  • If it is automatic, you have to set it up.  Usually the problem is not here, but in the interface for how you find and restore a particular file you need - one that was deleted, or a version from last week before it got messed up.
  • CDs and DVDs just don't have the capacity to back up like we need nowadays - photos, music, videos, and Virtual Machines.
  • Online means you are putting your trust for your most precious data in someone else's hands.  Are you backing up your Quickbooks and Quicken data?  Do you really want that stored on another company's system?
For me, what I want is this:
  • Automatic, I don't have to think about it
  • Very simple to find and restore the files I need
  • Locate the files in my hand - I don't want anyone else carrying around my data!!
  • Not incur YAMF (yet another monthly fee)!!

Now before we get any deeper into this post, let me warn you that some may have noticed that I have gone fruity.  That is, I have gotten sweet on apples - Macintosh to be precise. 

Check this out.  The Macintosh has something that comes with it, called Time Machine.  It backs up changes EVERY HOUR - that's right, as things go along!  Further, you can flip back through the folder you are currently looking at, to see versions of that folder back in time.  And there's nothing you have to do - except keep your external hard drive plugged in!!!  I mean, is that cool or what?  If that alone doesn't make you see the value of a Mac over Windows or even Linux, then what does?

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