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Wednesday, 23 April 2014
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Now there is no excuse for not having a Computer Backup!

This article explains what a (PC or Laptop) Computer Backup is and how it can now be done quickly and easily and hence why there is really now no excuse for not having a computer backup.Floppy Backup

In this article having a Computer backup means taking a copy of all of your software and all of your data held on all of the hard drives inside your PC. Having a full backup of this type means that should any or all of your hard drives fail or your computer is stolen, you still have a complete copy of everything that was on your computers hard drives.

Hard drives are very reliable, but they can go wrong. Also viruses can corrupt the data on your hard drives. If and when a hard drive problem occurs you will be glad you took the trouble to keep a full system backup. The alternative is reloading and configuring all of you software again and then there is the more difficult problem of all that lost personal data such as emails, documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, Music, Videos, Photos etc.

In the past computer backups would have been difficult and time consuming as they might have involved using a lot of floppy disc. Alternatively you could have gone for either an internal or external Tape Backup unit. A tape backup would do the complete system backup for you, but it might take several hours to backup everything on a system containing perhaps only many megabytes (MB) of data, but systems today often have gigabytes (GB) of data. (Note, 1GB is 1024MB i.e. over a thousand times bigger.)

One method to backup your complete system these days is to use a DVD writer, if your computer system contains a suitable DVD drive. You can buy software such as Norton Ghost 14.0 or the Acronis True Image 11 Home software (see below) that will backup your complete software and saves it to the hard drive in a number of compressed large files. 

Norton Ghost 14.0

Acronis True Image 11

Usually two of these large files can be saved to a 4.7GB DVD. So if your full system backup produced eight of these large files you would then have to save these files to four DVDs. All this can be done, it just takes time and effort and a collection of rewritable DVDs. You must also remember to do this at regular intervals, and to keep 2 or 3 sets of these backup DVDs, so that you are never overwriting your current backup disks. However, there is now a better way, and the next method is why there really is no excuse for not having a computer backup.

Iomega Desktop Hard Drive Silver Series Limited Edition - Hard drive - 500 GB - external - Hi-Speed USB - 7200 rpm - buffer: 8 MB
You can now get external hard drives that can simply be connected to your computer (PC or Laptop) via connections such as the USB connector. These external hard drives can be used to store even more data, but another very good use for them is as backup devices. When you purchase one of there external hard drives it may well come with software that allows you to do full backups as described above. These backups can be done easily and quickly in one step as all of your software and data is stored to compressed and possibly encrypted files on the external hard drive. Encryption of these backup files on the external hard drive is a very good idea as it means any sensitive personal data that is backed up is secure, just in case this external hard drive is stolen.

If you purchase an external hard drive that does not come with its own backup software then all you need to do is purchase the same type of backup software that was mentioned above when describing backing up to DVDs, but in this situation the software will simply backup directly to the external hard drive eliminating the need to copy files to DVDs.

So now you can do full backups easily and quickly at regular interval. There is however, another very useful feature that should come with these types of backup programs and that is to specify specific directories that you want monitored and if any file in these directories is updated or a new file is created then these files would be backed up immediately/dynamically to the external hard drive.


So for example on a Windows system you might specify that your “My Documents”, Desktop and Favorites directories be backed up dynamically. If you then created a new document and saved it in the “My Documents” directory a backup would also be saved to the external hard drive. If you then updated this document and saved it, the software would automatically backup the file again, possibly giving it a version number on the external hard drive so that if need be you could go to the backup and choose from a list of backed up copies of the same file. This could be useful if you deleted something for example from a saved Word document, but then later wished you still had that content, in which case you could go back to the older backed up version and retrieve the deleted text.

One other thing to consider is that if you keep your external hard drive permanently connected to your computer there is the possibility that a virus could corrupt this hard drive or if your computer is stolen the external hard drive may also be stolen. To guard against this situation you could also do the DVD backup strategy as described above occasionally, or you could invest in a second hard drive that is only used for the full backups and disconnected and stored somewhere safe between backups.

If you decide to only connect your external hard drive to you computer when you do a full system backup, you could use the same external hard drive to backup any other computers you have, assuming the external hard drive has the storage capacity.

You may well have paid hundreds or even thousands of Dollars/Pounds etc for your computer hardware and software. You will have spent many hours configuring and adding data to your system in terms of documents, spreadsheets, music, photos, videos etc. So if you take all of this into account and look at the relative cost of purchasing an external hard drive just for backing up you system, you should now agree that there is no excuse for not having a Computer Backup.

Click here to go to the External Hard Drive/Backup section of our UK Shop for an extensive range of External Hard Drives and Backup software.

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