To prevent data loss through theft, damage, or hard disk deterioration, computer files should be backed up regularly. This means to make a copy of all files that you want to keep, and move the copy to a safe location. This way, should the original file become lost, damaged, or accidentally overwritten, the backup file can be moved into its place. Most operating systems come with software to help automate the backup process, such as Backup and Restore on Windows 7.
Backing Up Basics
Despite the importance of backing up, CNN Money report that only 57 percent of computer users actually do it. Backups should be made of all important files, both at regular intervals and before extensive work is to take place on them. For example, before making an update to a spreadsheet, copy it and rename the new version with v2, for version 2, and work on that. In addition, important files should regularly be copied to a place external to their original location.
The most common form of external backup is an external hard drive. This is most suitable for people who have a large amount of data that they need to back up, for example, a lot of music, video, or image files. Many hard drives come with backup software, which allows users to automate the backup process. Since mistakes can be costly, this is a useful option. External drives can presently hold between around 200GB and 1TB.
For people who do not have a large amount of data to backup, and people who travel regularly, an online backup system may be most suitable. Services are available for all operating systems, although there is usually a monthly cost. Xdrive is one such service, which offers 5GB, and Mozy is another, offering 2GB. People using the Ubuntu operating system can get a free 2GB using the Ubuntu One online storage service.
The safest backup system is a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). A RAID involves setting up a mirror hard drive alongside the primary one. Every change that is made on the primary drive is duplicated on the mirror drive, giving almost second-by-second backups. This is most suited for systems where data loss would be very costly, or systems that are unstable. The downside to a RAID is that it takes some technical expertise to properly set up.
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