One day you’ll power on your computer and your drive will fizzle, sparks will fly across it’s surface and dance to a happy tune as your data and files, pictures and music go the way of electronic heaven. OK, it may not be that dramatic but chances are you will lose your data and whatever else was on your drive due to some kind of malfunction.
Data loss can be the result of more than just your drive failing – viruses and other computer related bugs have been a constant source of hard drive errors along with power failures or lightning. You should take advantage of backup devices and software to keep your important data and system settings backed up.
Preparing for such a loss can require a lot of work, but its worth it when trying to get your digital life back to normal. The first thing you need to do is look at your personal situation, lifestyle and work ethic and decide what data is most important to you. Keep in mind others that may use your computer before backing up, making sure you secure their data as well.
Once you’ve figured out what data you simply could not live without, you need to choose a hardware and software solution to make the backup. You can create a backup of your important files in one of many ways.
The easiest is getting an external hard drive to be used as a backup device. The most simple to set up are those that connect to your computer via USB or FIREWIRE. The setup is usually very straight forward for such a device – just pop in the CD that came with it and follow the instructions. You can then use the hard drive to copy over your files once a week or so to ensure protection.
Its also a good route because you will only be using the drive for a short period of time and it will not get as much wear and tear as the other drive you are using all the time. Many back up programs come with these types of drives, especially the external drives from companies such as Western Digital. They have drives setup as backups that have easy to use programs that you set and just have to make sure your system and the drive are turned on when you have scheduled the back up to occur and let it do all the work. You would tell the setup program what to back up and when and it does the rest. It can even back up important system settings that your operating system uses so that in the case of a system failure and you need a complete system restore, the system will be back to the latest save point that you backed up to. This is very handy if your drive fails and you need to replace it with a new operating system and everything else that was on the drive.
Some good companies and drives to look at can be found at CNET.com they review drives and backup programs and the best ones for your situation. You can also look into some other backup options besides an external drive, an internal drive that is not the same as your main drive would be another alternative for backing up data but not one that is recommended in case you lose more than just your drive. If your computer has something major happen and you cannot get the system back up, an external drive is easy and simple to hook to another computer to get your information off of. But an internal would be more difficult to remove and the data may not be safe.
Another alternative to a drive is storage media such as a zip drive or DVD discs. If you have smaller amounts of information or just need to back up your system settings a zip drive such as ones from Iomega can be perfect for the job. They have Zip drives that are up to 750 MB and are USB 2.0 compatible for ease of use. A good backup program is usually with the drive and can be used or you can buy one separately from several companies, many of which are reviewed at CNET.com. Two highly rated programs are available and can be seen here, http://www.backup-software-reviews.com/ along with others that you can read about. The site Backup software review is a small site that rates backup software and may be able to help you decide if you want to buy a program for backing up your important information or system settings.
No matter how you back up important information, external drive or other media, you should think about doing it. You cannot think that you will get any warning that your drive is going to fail, or worse that you will have a surge of power to your computer and it will fry the thing. Lightning strikes account for a good number of computer damages and you need to seriously decide what you need to do in the case of a drive failure.