You never know how much you need the data on your computer until your hard drive crashes. Working in IT, I have seen it so many times. Can you afford to lose the information on your computer? I'm not only talking about trading documents, think about the pictures, music and other personal files that you do not want to lose.
Fortunately, backing up your computer is easy.
- Get yourself an external hard drive. You can get them from any electronics store or online. Make sure that it has enough capacity to hold all your data. Here is the one I use: Western Digital My Book Essential 1 TB USB
- Plug it into your computer via the USB port, then plug in the power cord.
- I would suggest formatting the disk first. After you plug the backup drive into your computer, be patient. It may take a few minutes for the drive to be recognized by the computer. If you are using Windows, go to Start –> My Computer. Find the new drive and right click on it. Select “Format…” and do a “Quick Format.” It will ask you if you want to erase everything, say Yes. Be sure to name the drive something that you can easily recognize. Many times, a drive will come with some backup software that requires you to purchase it after so many days. This is not necessary and most of the time they are just trying to get more money out of you.
- Then you need to have backup software. Syncback is a free software program for Windows that I use to backup my desktop computer. Click here for tutorials on how to use it. There is a paid version, but the free one works well enough for me. There are other programs out there, so shop around. If you have a Mac, you can just use the Time Machine software included with OS X to do your backups. Most software solutions are easy to use and make it simple to create regularly scheduled backups. One note of caution, I would suggest you use software that copies the files as-is. In other words, do not use a program that compresses the files or requires a certain program to restore the files. If you ever stop using that software or there is an error in the compression process, your data files will be lost.
That's it! did you think it would be more complicated? Now there is no excuse to do regular backups.
Online backup is becoming a more viable option, but I have never tried it. It might work well and maybe I am a little too paranoid, but there is still some information that I would rather keep in my possession.
Do not wait until it is too late. In order to preserve your data, you must take a proactive approach to backups because you never know when your computer is going to crash. Backup regularly and as often as possible. Let the backup run at night so your computer is ready to use in the morning.