Most people place backing up their computer somewhere between replacing the windshield washer fluid in their car and cleaning out the gutters. The difference is, those things will wait, your computer may not.
My home computer had just celebrated its sixth birthday when my wife came calling “There’s something wrong with the computer!” You see, I’m in the computer business; surely there wasn’t anything wrong with our computer… As I ran down the stairs, I was greeted with the infamous blue screen on my, all of a sudden, very important computer. I hadn’t thought about “that ole thing” in months. As I stared into the blue screen with white lettering, I couldn’t help but wonder, what was on that thing anyway? After a brief panicked conversation with my wife, I realized that EVERYTHING was on that thing! My older daughter’s school play, our taxes, not to mention irreplaceable photos of our second daughter’s birth! We were in big trouble! I know what you’re thinking, just reboot it, right? It wasn’t that kind of trouble, this was the crash heard round the World.
Thankfully, recovery utilities worked and we were able to save the majority of our data. However, that could have easily not been the case. The point, that my wife so eloquently made me realize, was to have a backup.
I’ve been meaning to back up my computer. I don’t know how to back up my computer. My computer won’t crash. These are statements we’ve all made or thought about. The other side of the coin sounds like this: What do you mean it’s all gone? You can’t get it back? What’s this blue screen business about? More than ever, people are relying on their computers to “keep” their data. Here are a few tips and tricks to make backing up a little easier.
Think about it – If you aren’t backing up, start backing up. If you are backing up, check to make sure it’s working. There’s nothing worse than thinking that you have a backup, when all you have is an empty hard drive.
External hard drives with backup software – Backing up to removable storage (hard drives) is the most widely used method of backing up. Most external hard drives are shipped with easy to use backup software, which makes the job quick and easy.
Online options – Services like Dropbox , Google Drive and Microsoft’s SkyDrive, offer free, available anywhere, online storage. The free limits may not be enough to back up your entire machine, but you can easily save your precious documents and photos using these services. They also make for a great way to share documents with anyone.
USB Flash Drive – I’m sure all of us have used these small, convenient hard drives to carry around data and work on documents away from the home, but they also make for a great way to store backups of your important documents. Just don’t leave them at Starbucks!
Windows Backup/Restore – Windows still provides a good way to backup and restore your computer. Check out this link for a tutorial: http://bit.ly/hab3M
There are several pay for backup options out there, look for our reviews in a future article.
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Bob Johnson is the Manager of Information and Technology Services at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library.