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Losing data is something we all experience throughout the course of using our systems. The hard drives in our computers could suddenly fail, ransom ware could take our systems hostage or a malicious file could corrupt important data. If you’re not doing the needful, by backing your important files up regularly, then you are vulnerable to data loss.
Backing up your computer doesn’t have to be a process that is difficult or confusing. There are many different backup methods, so I’m certain you’re heard of at least one of them, but which one of them is the best, and what files should you back up?
A backup is basically the copying of your files. If you have something backed up, then it is protected, for example, if you were to erase an important photograph by mistake, you could easily retrieve it as a result of having backups.
When it comes to backing up your personal files, it’s normal for end users to use a different storage device to back this data up on. That way, if something were to happen to your original hard drive, maybe it gets damaged; you would still be able to retrieve the data that you originally lost.
When it comes to backups, there are two basic types of data that you should back up:
· The files on your computer that you frequently create and update.
· The applications that you run on your computer to carry out those day to day tasks.
You can choose to back up your data as often as you like, whether it be daily, monthly or weekly. But it’s common for end users to back up a large portion of their drive initially, then back up only those smaller files and programs afterwards.
Some computers have a secondary drive which can be used for backups. However, you may find that it’s much safer to use some form of external storage to back things up on.
External Hard Drives
An external hard drive is a hard drive just like any other, which you can use to store all kinds of data files on. Many of these external devices tend to be small and portable, making it easier for the end user to store or carry along with them. However, there are those much larger external devices which weren’t made to be carried around with you.
These external drives work by connecting to your computer, in order to provide additional storage space, usually via the USB cable. Once you have connected it to your computer, you can then copy and paste files from our primary hard drive to your external hard drive. Once you have suitably backed up your files, you can rest in the knowledge that they are safe from being damaged or stolen.
The major drawback of hard drives in general is that they can fail, and for many different reasons. One day you could plug the external hard drive into your computer and it simply will not work, preventing you from accessing the files you’ve stored on it. It’s very uncommon for a brand new drive to fail, as most drives tend to last several years before you’ll ever need to replace them, but that’s something you should be cognizant of.
Flash drives or thumb drives (as they are sometimes called) are small portable drives, often no longer than your thumb. They are available in a number of different designs, and are usually small enough to be attached to your key chain. Using this devices isn’t much different from your external hard drive, only flash drives use flash memory.
Just like your external hard drive, a flash drive plugs directly into your computer, via the USB port, and once connected, allows you to copy and paste files onto it. Once you’ve disconnected it from your computer, the files will be permanently saved to your little storage device, until you decide to remove it.
Flash drives are susceptible to break downs, failure and corruption, which typically renders them useless. In the event that such a thing was to happen, you would no longer be able to access the data on the drive. Newer flash drives don’t fail that often, but it does happen from time to time.
Backing Up Your Data
When it comes to backing up your data, there are several different programs out there that you can use to do that. Fortunately however, Microsoft has their own built in software, which I highly recommend that you consider using before investing in anything else. Anyway, you can access this tool by doing the following:
1. First, boot into your computer with full administrative privileges.
2. Then press Windows Key + R, and type Control Panel into the Run Command box then click on OK.
3. Once Control Panel loads up, type Back Up into the Search Control Panel box and click on Back up your computer.
4. This will take you to the Back up or restore files page, from here, click on Set up backup.
5. Follow the onscreen instructions to create your new back. Be sure to use a different storage device to put your backup on, whether it is a Flash Drive, secondary or external hard drive.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website Compuchenna.