January 1, 2010

New years resolution #1: Backup your data!

Information Level: Basic

Happy New Year to all of you. Now, start the year off right, and make sure you have a backup of all your important data.

1. All of your irreplaceable digital photos, your mp3 music collection, your college papers and/or office documents, and your business/financial information, is stored on what is basically a glorified cassette tape! The hard drive is susceptible to magnetic, electronic, and physical damage… not to mention the motor may simply burn out.
2. Archiving is NOT the same as backing up. If you simply archive your data by moving it from your computer hard drive to an external storage medium, it is still only stored in ONE PLACE, and that one place may break in any of the aforementioned ways, or just get lost.

The Three Levels of Data Backup, plus one bonus:

For the casual computer user:
If you use your computer relatively lightly, mainly browsing online, word-processing, and some family photos, you can simply back up all of your data to a thumb drive. Thumb drives are small (thumb-sized), cheap (often less than $50), and are less likely to break because they have no moving parts, but they are more easily lost and have limited capacity.

I have a few of these SanDisk Cruzer Micros kicking around, and they have served me well. Most of your data is probably in your “My Documents” folder. Get a thumb drive, copy everything in “My Documents” to it, now you have a backup.

For the more frequent computer user/music lover/video collector:
If you use your computer more than a little, you may have a lot more data than will fit on a thumb drive. All of you with an extensive iPod music collection: this means you. You can follow the same procedure as with thumb drives, but with an external hard drive

For hard drives, I recommend Seagate – they can fail like any hard drive, but they’re well made, and have one of the best warranties around.

For the business computer:
For the business computer, data loss is not an option. Business computers can hold the most valuable data, while working harder than the average computer in less than ideal conditions… for such mission-critical systems, you should backup your data daily, as above, and “image” the entire drive regularly as well, so if disaster strikes, all your data as well as the operating system and your software can be restored in a couple of hours. Either an internal or external hard drive will do the trick.
Hard Disk Light Effects
Hard Disk Light Effects‘ by Matt and Kim Rudge via Flickr

Contact theTechRelay.com if you would like further assistance/advice on a backup solution for your data. We’re here to help!

Bonus solution – Internet backup for your part of the internet:

What happens if Facebook crashes? Or Twitter? Or Gmail? Do you have a copy of all your images/status updates/emails? Probably not. That’s what Backupify has stepped into the breach to do. Backupify is an online service that will automatically backup all your online accounts, and let you browse & download the backups. Backupify is a new service. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks, and it looks pretty good. The best part is that if you sign up before the end of this month, it’s free! If you have invested time and energy into your online life via Facebook, Flickr, Blogger, etc., check them out.

Please, start the new year right. BACKUP your data. Data recovery is very expensive, and never a sure thing.