If you’re like me, your computer is an indispensable tool. It’s your constant companion. Losing it would be devastating! Actually, I don’t care about the computer. I only care about the data on it. The computer can be replaced as part of your homeowner’s insurance policy, but there is no insurance policy for the years of work and memories on the hard drive. Or is there?
Yes, there is! The insurance policy is called a backup. Making regular backups is the only way to insure the valuable data contained on your computer, and the process is easy.
For a small monthly fee, there are a number of online services that will perform the task automatically in the background as you work. While I don’t endorse any particular service, Carbonite and Mozy are two of the more popular options. A Google search will give you more options and it will also help you find out what others think about the choices available.
Another option is to use an external hard drive to back up your data. There are many drives available that make the process as easy as plugging in to a USB port and pushing a button. The geek at your local computer store can help you make a good selection. The size of the external drive you will need depends on the size of the hard drive in your computer, so make sure you have that information available before you go to the store. If your budget allows, it’s best to have two external drives and alternate your backups between them.
If both of these options are outside your budget, fear not. You can always use a thumb (USB) drive or DVD to back up just the important documents and pictures on your computer. While this option will not allow you to quickly recover from a hard drive failure, it will preserve your most important data. You will just need to reinstall any programs manually when you replace your computer. These programs are generally a lot like the computer itself: easy to replace.
Regardless of the option you choose, the important thing is that you make a choice and create regular backups starting today. Backing up once a week is good, but even if you only back up once a month it’s better than not backing up at all. The frequency of your backups depends on how much data you can afford to lose. If it’s possible, keep a copy of your most important data off-site to protect against fire, flood or theft. You can keep it at a friend’s house or in a safety deposit box.
Remember that your hard drive is a mechanical device. As such, it will eventually stop working. It could last 10 years, but it could also fail after just one year. It’s not a matter of if, but rather a matter of when. There is no way of predicting when your hard drive will fail, so make sure you have insured your data with proper backups.
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