| Understanding Backups
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Understanding Computer Backups

Understanding Backups

For most companies, it is part of their protocol to back up important business documents. What is the sense of keeping two or more copies of the same file when it only adds to your costs?

Most computer experts would argue that a back up is done not only because its part of the standard procedure, but because it ensures the safety and integrity of your files. What if someone hacked your computer and modified its contents? How can you retrieve your original data without a backup? Also, there is a possibility of your computer being infected with a virus. Without a back up, you might not be able to continue your work, or worse, you’ll start again from scratch.

What to Back Up

It goes without saying that you should back up all the important files in the computer. Here are some examples.

* Documents, music, pictures and videos. Your documents in school or work, your favorite mp3s, your childhood memories stored in pictures, or your latest downloaded series: whatever personal file it is, keep a copy of it.

* Application settings and program installers. In case of a virus or a system crash, you can easily reinstall your frequently-used programs through these files.

* Bookmarks. If you have a list of websites that you visit daily, better back it up.

What Not to Back Up

* Not every file in your system needs to be backed up, such as the ones listed below.

* Windows operating system. If your operation system gets corrupted, you can reinstall it anyway. So why bother backing them up?

* System files. Likewise, you can get the system-related contents of your local drive upon reinstallation.

* Program files. You can also reinstall your programs so you don’t need to duplicate its folders in another place.

* Internet cache. Although these data may help you load web pages faster, you don’t need this. Your browser can just download these small files again once you access the webpage.

Where to Back Up

It is a matter of preference on where you want to back up your documents. There are three different areas which you can choose as your backup locations.

Local backup. This refers to another physical drive apart from your PC. Of course, the essence of backing up your files is that you will have a reserve copy of your data in case something bad happens in it. Therefore, creating a backup in the same location defeats the purpose of this process. As such, the most popular avenue for backups is through external drives or in a drive in another computer.

Online backup. During the dial-up days, backing up online is considered to be time consuming and expensive. Fortunately, with the level of internet speeds today, this has become a practical option for a lot of reasons. First, your file isn’t stored in a physical hardware, which can get corrupt. Also, an online backup removes the risk of losing your data from device theft. Thus, you don’t have to worry too much on finding your stolen computer as you have a backup online.

System imaging. You can also back up your system as well. This process is called system imaging. Unlike in a file backup where the backup location should be different from the actual file, in system imaging your computer creates a copy of your system in your drive. As such, you can completely restore your system in case it crashes. However, the only limitation is that you need to have a considerable amount of disk space in order to perform this process.

When to Back Up

You may not know when accidents will happen so it is better if you can back up your files daily. This is pretty much easy if you are using online backup, especially if you are configured to be on auto-sync with an online database. On the other hand, if you are using a local storage such as an external drive to store data, you may have a hard time sorting all your folders for new files. To make this process easier, you can just back up only your most important files on a regular basis. All the other files get another treatment; they can be backed up every month or so, depending on their size and importance.

As a saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Don’t wait for your precious files to be damaged or deleted before you create a back up. And now that you’re well-equipped with the basics of backing up, you should start this process immediately.

Photo courtesy of Wolfgang