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Backing Up Your Computer Data

Why you Should Backup

Backing up your computer data should be done by everyone with a computer. A hard drive can go out at any time without much warning. I have had quite a few family members and friends come to me after losing pictures from big trips, financial documents, and tax records from a computer hardware failure. You can breath much easier if you know that all of these files and documents are not in danger of being lost.

Where to Backup

CD or DVD Backup

This is a pretty common option in which you backup files by writing them to a CD or DVD. If you are going with this option I would suggest using a re-writable CD/DVD so you don't need a new CD/DVD every time you backup. Also, this is one of my least favorite options since it requires you to remember to do it on a regular basis. I much prefer an automated option.

Internal or External Hard Drive Backup - Recommended

If you have a 2nd internal hard drive, you can use it to backup your data. You can also add an internal hard drive to your system very easily if you don't have one. External hard drives are pretty inexpensive and are very easy to use. Almost all external hard drives are plug and play and a lot of them come with software to help you backup files. I highly recommend this method of storage for backups. It is cheap and usually pretty easy.

Flash Drive - Recommended

This is another good, cheap way to backup your computer. This is my second favorite storage choice for computer backup.

Online Backup - Recommended

Using a third party website is also another great way to backup files. One nice thing about backing up to a website is that they are then responsible for your data being safe. Also, backing up your data on a website allows you to access the data from any computer at any time which if a big advantage. We recommend keepit.com and you can follow this link to .

Zip drive

Another option is to buy and install a zip drive. I would not recommend this method unless you are running a server though. Zip drives and tapes can be expensive.

Second Computer

If you have another computer, you could connect the computers and then back up the files to each other's hard drives.

How to Backup

Windows Backup Utility

The Windows backup utility is a utility built into Windows which guides you through backup of your files. This is a great method for any level of user. To do this:
  • Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Backup. Click Next on the first screen
  • Choose what you want to backup. I would suggest "Everyone's Documents" or choosing "what to backup".
  • Choose the backup location, click next.
  • You are now on the summary page. It is optional, but suggested that you click the "Advanced" button to make this a scheduled event. This is not an option if you chose "All information on this computer" to backup.
  • Go through the wizard to set up the schedule. You can make the backup type "Normal Backup". No need to check "Verify data after backup" or "Disable Volume Shadow Copy". When you get to the "When to backup" step, make sure to set a schedule. I have mine backup daily overnight.

Batch file backup

This is an advanced method that allows for a lot of control when backing up files. Backing up with a batch file is a bit advanced, but allows you a lot of control. You can open up notepad and then save the file as a ".bat" file to make it an executable batch file. In the batch file, you can use XCopy to copy certain directories to other locations such as another hard drive or a flash drive. After you have your batch file completed, you can make it a scheduled task by going to Control Panel->Performance and Maintenence->Scheduled Tasks. Follow the wizard to schedule your batch file to run daily or weekly. Below is an example of how to use XCopy.

xcopy /e /v /y c:\Music e:\Backup\Music

This will copy my c:\music to location e:\backup\music. E Drive is my external hard drive. The /e makes sure XCopy copes subdirectories. The /y makes it so your are not prompted to verify an overwrite. The /v just makes it so the computer verifies the copy.



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