Backing up your computer files

“Backup, backup, backup!” is a mantra that I preach often as now, more often than not, precious computer files such as photographs; documents; videos or songs are stored on a computer hard drive and not periodically “backed up”.

Because of digital photography, we have all gotten lazy and rely on our computers to store these valuable milestones, comfortable and complacent in a false sense of security that we can view them at our leisure. Gone are the days where we were handed photographic prints together with their respective negatives.

Backing up is a fancy term that simply means to make a copy of a file in case the original is destroyed and gone forever. In fact you should make two copies: one to keep in your home and the other to store “off-site”, in another safe location.

There are companies out there that deal with “Data Recovery” but these can be very expensive. It is better to be pro-active and back up your data before it is lost for good.

Modern times has dictated that we now often archive photographs only on our computers rather than keeping them in albums or negatives which can be stored safely away. Sadly, because computers and hard drives have a finite life and it is not a matter of if they will fail, but when, it is important to do frequent backups. I recommend that you do a backup every week.

There is a saying in the computer world that “you are only as good as your last backup”.  This means that if you have put a file on your computer after your last backup was done and the hard drive fails, then you would have lost this new file.

To protect your precious data, I recommend that you go out and purchase an external hard drive to store your backups. Hard drives made my Seagate and Verbatim come with special third party “backup software” included such as from Memeo. This automatically senses if you have created or updated a file and copies this new file to your backup drive if it plugged in.  This takes the issue of manually having to backup your files out of your hands. The backup programme is clever enough to sense when you install the drive and then automatically copies only the newly created or changed files.

You may see another hard drive letter on your computer but do not be fooled as most times that simply means that your drive has been “partioned” or split into mutliple pieces but it is still the same physical hard drive. Therefore in a hard drive failure, you will lose both drive letters! You must use a separate backup source which can stored in a safe location when the inevitable happens.

You will read that backing up to the “Cloud” is a good idea. There are some caveats to this:

1) How secure is the company that you are backing up your precious data to?
2) How fast is your upstream Internet connection and are you on a finited monthly data contract? As an example, on a dedicated 512kbps upsteam connection (meaning only doing a backup), it can take 19 days to backup 100GB of information running 24×7!

To conclude, I recommend using a secondary external backup hard drive rather than computer discs or thumb/USB drives, because non hard drives have a shorter lifespan.

You can see that I am alluding to the fact that you should ideally have a backup for the backup by making two copies of your files!

For more information please look at this Hubpage article: