We’ve all been there- that horrifying moment when something is terribly wrong with the computer. Our next thoughts are usually angry, moving towards, “Why did that happen?” and “Was that backed up?!”
It’s very important to back up your data because a hard drive crash or virus could happen to anyone, and any machine. A hard drive has a spinning disc inside of it. Heat and wear will take their toll eventually. Even a SSD (Solid State Drive) can fail. Or maybe you’ve made changes to an important document and can’t undo it. No matter what the cause, failing to back up your data can lead to a loss of time, money, or quality of the data if you have to recreate it.
The easiest way to protect your data would be to get an external hard drive. Prices range from $50 to $200 and up depending on your data needs. You can find these external hard drives most anywhere from Walmart, Staples, BestBuy or online at tigerdirect.com. Most externals also come with the software required to set up and run backups, making getting started very easy. I would suggest backing up every hour or so (it will be seamless and shouldn’t interrupt you) if you work on important projects. A home computer will be fine with a once a week backup. The downfall of an external drive is that it is located in the same place as your computer so if anything were to happen to the main machine (fire, flood, power surge) it will most likely do the same to the external.
One other option is to do an off-site backup. For someone who doesn’t work in a data center this usually means backing up your documents on someone else’s servers. Two options for this method are Google Docs and Carbonite. Google Docs is a free service where you can upload documents to Google’s servers. You can access them any time, from any computer. It isn’t automatic though, so it may be limited by how much you can store and the time you spend uploading content. Carbonite is much like an external hard drive in that it is an automatic backup program that will back up what you want, when you want it and store it on their servers. You can access the content anywhere, but there is a subscription fee. There is a free trial available for anyone considering this type of backup.
Play it safe and back up your work! A simple external hard drive or a web based service could (and probably will) save you a lot of frustration in the future.
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