Have you ever lost all your data? Been infected by a virus which resulted in having to format your computer? Had a hard drive failure? Had a bad installation of a program? These are some of the causes for lost data.
Lost data includes all the documents created in the programs you use. This data can be scattered all over the hard drive of the computer.
As a responsible computer user you have to implement a system to back up all the data files on the computer “just in case” something goes wrong.
The Importance of Backing Up Files
It is very important to do regular backups to prevent the lost of data. Software can be reinstalled but your data could quite possibly be lost for ever. There are various causes for data loss, machine breakdown, virus, power outage, software upgrades, fire, flood and human error. Before continuing here’s some terms used when referring to backup:
Backup – A duplicate copy of a file, program, folder or disk used if the original is damaged, corrupt or lost.
Restore – To copy the backed up version of information back to it’s original location.
Backup Media – Can be another computer, floppy disk(s), CD(s), DVD(s) or any other recordable media for computers.
- 3 1/2″ floppy can hold 1.44mb
- CDs can hold 650-800mb
- DVDs can hold 4.7gb
- External hard drive can hold various amounts of information. How much will depend on the size of drive you have
Full Backup – backing up everything on your computer. Includes data, software and operating system.
Incremental Backup – A backup of only what has changed since the last backup.
The files on your computer are very fragile. They can be destroyed or damaged by a software malfunction, viruses, worms, Trojans and the biggest cause of lost files, the operator (that would be you). Ever accidentally deleted a file, not saved your changes, lost a disk or been playing around with something new and broke your project?
How your files and folders are organized on your computer will help simplify the backup process. For the inexperienced storing all your data files in My Documents in separate folders would be the simplest solution. The main idea is to have all your data files in one location so when backing up you don’t have to remember or search for all your data files located on the computer. Consult the documentation that came with each program that you use to reset the location of your data/project files.
XP has Restore feature that will restore your system back to a certain time in the past but you have to have the monitor turned on for it to keep track of what has changed and it isn’t going to help you if your hard drive crashes or the system is broken to a point where you have to format and start over. A backup system is still required.
Backing up is really just copying your information to a removable disk that you can store somewhere safe in the case of an emergency. Ideally, you store your backup disks off-site (somewhere other than the building that your computer is in like your safety deposit box, a friend’s or at home if you work from an office).
Scheduling Back Ups
- this should be done before installing new software and software updates
- should be done periodically. The frequency would depend on how often you add to your system but at least twice a year.
- this should be done daily especially if you work on the computer a lot changing files in a day.
For someone who can’t get in the habit of backing up regularly on their own using a backup software package might be the best solution. There are various software packages available for free or at a cost.
- Put all your data in one location to make backing up your data easier.
- Backup daily.
- Perform a full backup before installing new software and updates.
- Perform a full backup at least twice a year.
A Note to Website Owners
You have invested into creating a web presence for your business, don’t let server outages take away your investment.
Backing up your website is just as important as backing up your computer. Take the time to learn how to back up your website. This will be time well spent.
Revised: November 11, 2006