In the technology community this is a major day of reflection: HAPPY WORLD BACKUP DAY!
So its time for you to think — what is my backup system? Do you even have a backup system? No need to squirm in your seat, but give it some long hard thought and develop a plan. You will fall into one of two camps….
1) If you just use your computer for internet and e-mail — and those e-mails are not stored locally on your computer somewhere — and you don’t have any files, pictures, documents that you can’t afford to lose — then I hate to say it but YOU PROBABLY DO NOT NEED A BACKUP. If your hard drive fails, you will buy a new one and reinstall Windows. Alternatively you will buy a new computer, which will have a fresh Windows installation on it.
2) If you are a Mac user, you should have a backup system. Let me get that out of the way. Since 2007 and OS 10.5, Apple has made backing up so easy!! Plug in an external hard drive and in less than 2 minutes, set and forget. But for everyone here Windows and Mac: if you have important files saved on the computer — emails, pictures, documents, songs, movies, YOU NEED A BACKUP SYSTEM.
Backup options range from free to paid, but if you have files you can’t lose please do something! Some backup options even allow you to access your files on other computers and devices such as iPad, iPhones, and Androids.
A) For simple backups of mostly documents: look into Dropbox(dot)com or SugarSync(dot)com, both which have free options to get your started. If you need more storage space they have paid options running at about $5 to $10 a month. Your files are backed up online.
B) If you want to backup your whole computer to an external hard drive so that you can restore from it later on, please get yourself one so you can start doing backups. The Mac OS and Windows 7 have very nice built in backup utilities that you can set and forget without much hassle. You can buy a good external hard drive (Windows / Mac) from MacSales.com, Lacie.com, or you consider the Apple Time Capsule for an environment of multiple Macs or mixed Macs / PC’s. Please consider replacing your external hard drives every three years. If you are planning to get five years out of your computer, it makes sense to replace your backup drive on a more regular basis.
C) For an online backup of nearly all of your files, I really like Carbonite(dot)com and CrashPlan(dot)com. Both are about $60 a year and offer a more comprehensive backup than option A) because the storage capacity is virtually unlimited.
** There are more comprehensive backup options than those listed here, but I wanted to give you something to get started. If you are doing nothing right now and feel the need to back up look at the websites for option A and read about those two services. Most of you who need a backup should also really consider B or C. You really can’t have just one backup, you need two. The reason is — your backup is no good when it fails.