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by Steve Deal on August 17, 2016

Sooner or later, you will lose the data on your PC.     Either you accidentally delete something (most common), the PC hardware fails (occasionally), or ransomware will get you despite your best efforts (hasn’t happened to anybody I know yet).

What would you do if a thief stole your PC today?       Regular backups are essential !

There are two basic ways to backup your data – just backup the files, or the whole PC.

Manual File Backups

The simplest backup is to just manually copy your ‘My Documents’ / ‘My Photos’ / etc. to a flash drive or DVD and store it away from your computer (or the thief will steal that too!).  I don’t think this works for most people because it requires us to remember to do something.

You can also get an Internet backup services to automatically copy your files to the ‘cloud’.  This is a good file backup option now that most of us have cable/DSL internet connections.

Email Backup

Email is a special case.   Many of us have web based email (e.g., Hosted Exchange / gmail), and backup is often not required.   If you use a local email client (e.g., Outlook), and download your email, you may wish to back these files up also.   This can be difficult to do if the files are open.  Make sure your email client is closed if you use a file backup (or just do a Full PC Backup).

Full PC Backup

The ultimate backup is a complete copy of everything on your PC (“an image”).   If the hardware fails, we can replace it and just restore everything like it was.  You purchase an external hard drive (~$100) and a software program (or use an internet backup).

For individual PCs, it’s common when an older PC dies that you just buy a new one, and restore your files.  If you have a full backup, you have options !

But will it work??

Almost any backup is better than none, clearly.   But unless you TEST your backups, and keep MULTIPLE copies, disaster can still strike.   A single PC and a single backup can both get stolen, or both fail (we have seen it happen).

Best Practices

What’s best?

We like to see at least 3 copies of the data (one primary, two backups) in 2 places (local, offsite or internet).   We prefer regular testing of the backups to ensure that you can RESTORE from them.

We have internet backup services starting at $10/month, or can help you set up a backup / rotation / testing plan if you want to use external hard drives.

For businesses, we redirect user files to servers, and safeguard those with image backups that go offsite.

So BACKUP that data a few times, and TEST it so that you can restore it one day !


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