4 Ways to Back Up your Computer

By: Richard Adams

If you've heard it once you've heard it a million times - you need to back up the information on your computer. Hard drives *do* crash sometimes and it can be heartbreaking to lose all that information - documents, pictures, videos and so on. Even worse if you work online as I do.

Then you've got the chances of fire, theft and so on.

Sorry to sound negative but it is important - and I think too few people take this topic seriously.

Once you've made the commitment to back up your files though, how do you actually go about it?

Well here are 4 common methods for you to consider before making a decision:

1) CD

Easy and cheap, saving important files onto CD is a popular method. They're small and reasonably hardwearing and can be stored in a locked box or safe in the home.

It does mean however that you need to pick and choose *which* files you're going to back up as taking a complete copy of a well-stuffed hard drive and trying to squeeze it onto CDs would require a heck of a lot of discs.

In addition, appreciate that if it is fire, there is a risk the discs themselves could get damaged and make all your efforts worthless.

2) Flash Drive

Typically only stretching to a gig or so of memory these USB Flash Drives won't hold too many files again but are simple to use. Simply plug one into an available USB port to read or write to it.

You have the same problem as with the discs in the case of a fire unless you decide, as some people do, to keep the Flash Drive on your person at all times, such as using it as a keyring.

3) External Hard Drive

A good-sized external hard drive will enable you to back up your whole hard drive - a real boon - meaning there won't be any files you have to sacrifice in the interests of space.

You can also set up a piece of software such as x that will *automatically* back up your computer to your hard drive when you specify.

Once again, if there is a fire (or theft) you may be in trouble, and appreciate that while costs are coming down all the time this is still a far more expensive option to implement than either of those above.

4) External File Backup Service

These services function in such a way that whenever you log onto the Internet they will take a copy of every file on your hard drive and save them in a remote location. This location is built specially to store sensitive data and they are typically fire proof, bomb proof etc. and give your data the highest levels of protection available to the average joe on the street.

You *do* need to be aware of course that if you don't log onto the Internet very often your files won't be updated very often, that as all this to-ing and fro-ing of files is going on in the background there is a chance your Internet connection may run a little slower than usual and lastly some people are rather concerned about having their person files (diary, emails, will etc.) stored in a location they have little control over.

Your files are, however, likely far safer than with any of the other 3 options.

So which is the best method?

Well, it's not that straightforward I'm afraid.

Its a decision best left to the individual. I personally went for option 4 and set myself up with external storage because then no matter what happens (bearing in mind how often I'm on the Internet) all my most precious of files are stored safely for retrieval in the unfortunate event that I need them.

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