How To Back Up Your Computer Files

There are life altering events we all have passed through at one time or another. One of those times for me was the crash of my 2year hard drive.
I’ve learnt to back up my files ever since I started using computers. My tutor sounded that rhythm loud to all his students then. “Back-up those files NOW everyone! Back up those files NOW everyone”, he always sang.

Now, I can safely assume he took pains to sound the alarm from such experience as I am about to share with you.
I was on a tour trip to Mozambique last year. My mission was to capture scenes of our next tourism project and broadcast live to our waiting investors. I had captured and compiled hundreds of pictures. I had gathered in neat powerpoint presentations, past projects with on-going ones and animations of our projected landing view. And just as I was about to present those, my system crashed. Talk of having all hell loose on you, that was exactly my state at that moment.

Thankfully, one of our lead prospective investor has had an experience all similar to mine. He rose to share his experience and lightened the air for me to make oral presentations. They had to picture what my words described, where a showing would have been far more appropriate. We still got the deal though.
Data lose from system crash or hard drive failure happen to even the best computer gurus. Hard drive manufacturers even report an average failure rate of between 5 to 8. Your computer may just fall within the bracket of those 5-8 that would crash. Even if you are lucky not be part of this few, some other unforeseen occurrences can make you lose data. 

You may experience a power surge. The magnets of your stereo speaker can malfunction. Even an accidental nudge can cause you to lose data on your PC.
A report from Ontrack Data Recovery Services reveals that, data lose can be caused by natural diseasters (3%), computer viruses (7%), software problems (14%), and plain old user error (32% occurence).
From this report, we see that the highest percentage of data lose occurrence is caused by plain human errors. The ones beyond our control we can only hope against. But the ones on our control, we can do all to prevent.
Let’s get you some hints on that:

Choose The Files You Want To Save

Not all files require the space you give them on your hard drive. So delete the unnecessary ones. The files I find necessary may differ from yours and that’s fine. Decide which ones can go and which ones must stay. And don’t be tempted to spare the unnecessary ones. 
I’ll keep my music files and thesis files. Why won’t I? That’s my work. I will let go of sport files and cooking files. I love both fields and read a lot of them. But I can always Google up whatever I need immediate reference on in these regards.

Where To Store Them?

It’s not advisable to put backup files on another drive on the same computer. That just won’t work. Infact, its counteractive.
You should not also duplicate your files on another computer using the same LAN. If your computer is attacked by a virus, it will spread quickly there too.
You best options is to get a portable storage pack such as a floppy disk, portable hard drive, tape drive, optical drives or remote servers.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

Hard disk

The 3.5`` square ones hold about 1.44 MB data. This is quite a small storage space. And I won’t particularly welcome the idea of storing up hundreds of this small disks with the intent of labelling each diskette with the file it contains. My storage device will soon be taking up a room, if I even just try to entertain this idea for a while.
Majority of computer users opt for removable hard drives to back up their files. The Zip drive from Lomega and ORB from Castlewood are the popular removable hard drives. They hold up to 2GB data and are not so expensive.

To use the removable hard drive, you basically save your data on a Zip disk and then transfer your saved data to the portable hard drive.
Removable drives fail just as much as regular hard drives. They are even more prone to fail from accumulation of dust and from mal-handing.
The best option is to use a permanent hard drive as a removable hard drive. Conventional hard drives are bigger than removable hard drives. Some of them have up to 200GB space.
Keep all your hard drives free from dust, static electricity and magnetic charges. This way, you’ll protect them from damage that could cause a crash.

Optical Drive

This uses laser to store data instead of magnet. Your CDs and DVDs are examples of optical drives. These are cheap. A 650MB CD costs less than a buck. And a 5 GB DVD cost about 15 dollars.
Other less popular ones are Erasable Optical (EO) and Write Once, Read Many (WORM) media. These costs about a thousand dollars per drive. This explains why they are less popular, right?

Remote Servers

These are owned by companies that help you store your data online and charge you for that. For broadband internet users, this is a preferred option.


Let’s Get To It

If you choose to store your files on a CD, use the propriety disk writing software or the backup option provided in the CD. This would work fine for you if you prefer to work more on software.
If you are not someone who likes to work on software, you should use the backup option on your Microsoft operating system. That is relatively easy.
To run your Windows 98, Windows ME and Windows XP Professional back-up, follow these steps:
Step 1: Click Start
Step 2: Click Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools and then Backup.
If you use the XP Home Edition, you’ll have to add the utility manually. The Windows XP backup utility also include an automated recovery wizard. It is a bonus application which creates a bootable floppy that initiates backup if you have to replace your hard drive.
Most of us have the habit of procrastinating. Don’t let the matter of having to backup your files be one you procrastinate on. Make it an habit to back up your files, weekly or monthly as you see fit.