Backup Your Data (Before It’s Too Late)

By Scott Drinkard
I see it happen all the time with my home PC customers. Their computer, for whatever reason, has been rendered unbootable and they are suddenly (and understandably) worried about the contents of the hard drive. Whether it’s hundreds (or thousands) of dollars worth of downloaded music and movies, software that was purchased and paid for online, countless hours of work on personal or business documents or the unthinkable loss of all their family photos, the sudden realization that you have never safeguarded these things can be a very unsettling prospect. One of the first questions I ask when someone calls and tells me that their pc won’t start is if they have a recent backup of their data. It’s very rare for anyone to answer that question in the affirmative. Usually, after a moment of silence, the customer will sheepishly admit that they always intended to start backing up but never did because… [insert your favorite excuse here]. I always hate to hear this because backing up your data is vitally important and (here’s the BIG SECRET) it’s not at all difficult. There are backup utilities and services available to consumers now that make the process so simple and automated that anyone can do it easily and quickly. And the best part is, there are so many competing products you will easily find one to fit your budget if you shop around. One word of caution, though. Don’t use the built-in backup utility in Windows. Yeah, I know, it’s already there and it’s “free”. Trust me though, it’s cumbersome, featureless and not very dependable. You won’t like it so you won’t use it and then the next time your hard drive crashes (it will happen sooner or later), you won’t have a backup. I’ve seen it happen too many times! Third party software is definitely the way to go.

I have a personal favorite called Backup4All that I use for all of the computers on my home network. There are lots of programs to choose from out there, and many of them are very good. The reasons that I chose Backup4All though, are simple: It’s intuitive – meaning that it’s very easy to navigate. It’s Flexible – It gives you plenty of easy to understand options for backing up your data. It’s very affordable – It’s got the best feature to cost ratio of all the utilities that I’ve reviewed, and – It’s dependable (this is my favorite feature!) – It even sends me an email if a scheduled backup fails and attaches a log that lets me know what the problem was! Now THAT’S peace of mind!

Anyway, whatever backup application you decide to use, It’s important to understand what needs to be backed up. Following is a list of things you should DEFINITELY include in your backups:

The ‘My Documents Folder’ – This is hands down the most critical folder for most people in terms of data backup. This is where all of your personal and sometimes irreplaceable data is stored. By default, it contains all of your photos, music, documents, videos, etc. In some cases, such as photos and home videos, if these items are lost or corrupted, they are gone forever and cannot be replaced. (Imagine telling your wife that all of the baby pictures are gone!)

Your Accounting Data – If you use personal or business accounting software on your pc, backing up the data file on a regular basis is an absolute MUST! Enough said.

Your Email Address Book – You have a lot of important contact information that you have gathered over the years. Backing up this data is especially critical if you are a business person and you utilize email in your daily business schedule.

A couple of things you may want to consider backing up even though they aren’t critical are:

Your Internet ‘Favorites’ Folder – Although it’s not the end of the world if the contents of this folder are lost, trying to remember the url’s of your favorite websites can be a daunting task.

Your Windows User Settings – These are the setting that ‘personalize’ your user account. Desktop backgrounds, screensavers, etc.

Things you don’t need to bother with backing up include:

Windows – You should already have a copy of your OS on disk.

Any programs that you installed from disks – You need to back up the data files, but not the program itself. Reinstall that from the disk.

So there you have it. Backing up is easy if you have the right software. No more excuses. Get yourself a good backup application (see above!) and start protecting yourself today. I hope this article has been helpful.

Scott Drinkard (The Computer Guy) is a self -employed computer service tech living and working in Odessa, Texas. The owner of Odessa based “The Computer Guy” has been helping the good people of West Texas with their computer problems for about 10 years. Please visit http://www.odessacomputerguy.com for more information.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Scott_Drinkard

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