Backup the [bleep] up!

Backups - inconvenience vs heartbreak

Dogbot with backup drive

Have you done a backup today, or even this week? This month? Ever? In this article, we'll talk about the importance of backing up data to help protect against catastrophic loss, such as through a failed hard drive, malware attack, theft, or other unforeseen event. Bulldog's been there, many moons ago. He's a lot wiser now.

Backup essential files regularly

Imagine losing all the photos you stored on your computer. The music you've saved on the computer since offloading your entire space-hogging CD collection on eBay. Those precious home videos of your family and holidays, all suddenly no longer there. All your work, all your accounts, all those memories. All gone because you trusted your PC to keep everything safe for one more day. Because you kept putting off those backups until the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. It applies just as much to work computers as those at home, as our experience has shown us that users all too often store personal files on computers at their place of work.

"Better a few hours of inconvenience than years of heartbreak..."

Backups get delayed time and again as a time-consuming nuisance. A full backup can take hours. Why do we need backups? Backing up a PC can prevent the heartache of losing all your precious files, possibly even save your job, and certainly save you time in the long run. Better a few hours of inconvenience than years of heartbreak from losing all that stuff. Having more than one backup type or location provides even more peace of mind, whether that second location is an additional external drive, backing up to DVDs or even to an online resource, aka “the cloud”.

A backup can also help recovery

There are multiple methods for backing up a PC and the files stored upon it, and it certainly won’t hurt to make use of more than one. Bulldog Specialist IT Services provides assistance with cloud, cloning and disk imaging backups. These are the most common ways to go about it:

Smaller backups

Copying: Copy files to external hard drives, USB sticks, or to blank DVDs which provide a long-lasting and affordable "hard copy". If you have a ridiculously-huge number of files to copy over to the secondary device (stick or external drive), use a file transfer utility such as Code Sector's Teracopy, significantly faster than using Windows' own copy feature.

The Cloud: There are many services offering space on a virtual drive to which you can upload your files for safe keeping in the event of major problems. Cloud services often offer small amounts of space for free, but for an entire drive’s worth of files you will need a paid plan. Services such as Dropbox and pCloud allow access from multiple devices including smartphones, and provide tiered plans catering to various budgets, starting with the free 2Gb account. We recommend using a Cloud-based service only for documents and photos, rather than lots of multi-megabyte files such as video and music collections. Downsides to Cloud backup include bandwidth? It’s only as fast as your upload speed, and "free" plans are very limited in how much they can store.

Larger backups

Clone: Cloning a drive creates an exact copy of your computer's hard drive on another second drive. Disadvantages include erasing the destination drive completely, so make sure there's nothing on the target drive you want to keep! This method is most commonly used for replacing an existing hard drive, such as with a higher-capacity newer or faster model.

Disk Image: The preferred option. Imaging creates a single large archive file containing everything on your computer at the time the image was created. The image includes the operating system, your files, and your programs. Image files can be used to restore your computer to the exact state as at the time the image was created. The advantage with imaging over cloning are that multiple images can be stored on the destination hard drive, giving more choices of what state to restore everything to. Some backup software programs allow you to choose between cloning and imaging.

Don't leave it until it's too late for your data. Backup your essential files NOW. Ask us for more information on how you can get the best backup solution for your needs.

Our current recommendations are:
Hard drives: Seagate Barracuda and Firecuda
Software: Acronis True Image
Cloud: pCloud, Dropbox
Utlities: Teracopy

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