In the world of digital data we have tons of pictures, documents, videos, email, financial information and more right at our fingertips, but how many of us back up all of this stuff? We are using our computers for just about everything we do in our day to day lives. With the major push to go paperless, many of us no longer write out checks to pay our bills, file paper taxes or even receive bank statements in the mail.
The convenience of having all of this information on our computers is great, but it can all disappear with one virus, power surge, or flood. Whats even more strange is that most of us know we need to back up our data but we choose not to. Perhaps it is because we just don’t know how or maybe just don’t feel like we have the time.
Here are a few great ways to back up your data and the best part is it doesn’t take very long and it’s not very expensive.
External Hard Drive-
External Hard drives are easy to set up and you can get a huge amount of storage space for very little, and to top it off they are portable. For example, you can get a 3TB, yes that’s Terabyte, for around $140. You might even find deals better then this, especially if you can find an online coupon or rebate offer. Many of these drives now utilize the new super fast USB 3.0 standard for quick data transfer.
USB Thumb Drives-
Yep, even these little guys can be of great use when you need to back up data. Thumb drives come in many shapes and sizes and some can hold up to 128GB of data. This option is not necessarily the fastest but in smaller sizes, like the 8GB for example, you can back up all of your spreadsheets or photos in a snap. I think these make a better choice than recordable DVD media since they are less susceptible to physical damage, take up less space, and are relatively cheap.
These are quite useful to use but honestly I think the other methods of backup that I mentioned are far easier to work with. I’m not saying you should never use optical media to back up your data I am just saying there are better options.
Home Server Backup-
If you have multiple computers on a network you can back them up using something like Time Capsule from Apple, which will integrate wirelessly with Time Machine to back up your Apple computers. You can also use Clickfree Wireless backup, which will also back up your files on multiple machines. Both of these options are extremely easy to set up and work really well.
Dropbox is another popular option for back up synchronization that can be downloaded or used on the web. Dropbox stores files in one folder that can be accessed from any device and it features a relatively easy to use interface.
OK, so we have a few options to choose from when it comes to how we want to back up our data but how do you choose what to back up? This process is not as bad as you might think, just think about what is irreplaceable and what means most to you personally. After you determine what can not be replaced, you can start weeding out things like video game data (excluding saved games), old documents that are no longer important like essays from 6 years ago or old resumes and emails.
Many operating systems come with a back up system of their own that you can use.
Mac uses Time Machine, which you can get detailed information on how to use here.
Windows users can use Backup and Restore, instructions on how to use this can be found here.
With openSuse you can back up your /home using instructions found here.
Remember, redundancy is key here and try to back up only the things that you consider to be irreplaceable and most important. Using this strategy will keep your file sizes from getting out of control and help speed up the back up process.