All The Ways to Backup a PC For Easy Data Recovery
Do you have copies of your files quickly available on another source in case your PC fails or you need to find an older version of a file?
It’s important to have a routine backup policy for many reasons.
The most obvious is losing data due to a hard disk crash. But other computer malfunctions can cause data loss too.
Other things can happen as well. You may make a mistake and delete files you later realized you needed. Or the worst thing happens, you turn on your computer one day to discover it won’t boot. Even viruses can wipe you out.
If the unexpected happens, you will want to be able to recover from a loss of data without any frustration. Planning ahead is the only way to accomplish this.
Programs exist that can scan a crashed drive and sometimes restore a few working sectors. There are also programs that can undelete files to get them back. But both of these methods may only rescue pieces of your data. Not entire files.
The Only Sure Protection is to Backup Your Data
The solution that will let you sleep at night is to backup your data. You need to make a data backup policy that you will stick to. Make a plan of backing up your data at the end of each workday. All files that you may ever need to recreate your work should be saved in duplicate somewhere other than your computer's hard drive.
The easiest way to maintain a duplicate backup of everything is to use an external hard drive. Technology today has brought the prices of the drives down to very affordable levels.
And they are huge, with definitely enough storage space to copy everything with a simple copy command or "drag and drop." There is no need for complicated software to backup and restore.
That's what I do. And it came in handy already for me, more than once. There were times when I messed up something I was working on and I just needed to set the hands of time back a few days.
All I had to do was restore a backup of the file that I screwed up and use the version from a few days earlier. I had it on my external hard drive so it was a non-event. I restored the backup and continued on with my work.
Did you ever lose your data and didn't have a backup?
Backup Files to the Cloud, Flash Drive, or External Drive
Saving a duplicate of your work on another device is very important, especially if you are serious about your work as a money making venture.
There are Internet sites that offer services to backup your data files to their server so you always have access to it. You store your data in the cloud. You are really storing your data on a computer server somewhere. That's what cloud computing is all about.
I don’t trust online backup. In my opinion I think it’s too easy for it to get hacked. There are often stories on the news about computer servers of companies and government agencies being compromised by cyber attacks.
Flash Memory Functions As A Hard Drive
What is a safer solution? An external device that you can attach to your PC.
Flash memory plugs into a USB port and functions as a hard drive.
For backups that don't require much space, you can use a flash drive. If you work mostly with text files then this should be all you need. You can order them cheap from Amazon In a variety of sizes.
I recommend using two flash drives and flip-flop between them for each successive backup.
I say this just in case something goes wrong with the flash drive. At least you'll have the prior backup.They are cheap enough that two won't break your bank account.
Flash drives are good for text files. But if you backup a lot of images too then they may fill up your flash memory before you know it.
Nevertheless, it's a good way to take care of your backup at really low cost if you don't have huge files.
USB External Hard Drives Hold Up To 2 Terabytes
External hard drives are the best solution when you have large amounts of data, especially images.
Just like flash memory cards, external drives are plug-and-play, connect with ease to a USB port, and are easy to use.
Either way, it's as simple as copying your files to another drive letter from your C: drive.
It's important to back up everything. All your work files, all your notes, and all the images and pictures that you have. You need it all so that you can recreate everything if you need to.
It's not really expensive to have a really good external hard drive. Amazon sells external hard drives made by Western Digital, Cirago, Toshiba, and others. They range in sizes from 120 GB up to 2 Terabytes.
Large capacity high-speed external hard drives by various manufacturers are available at reasonable prices from Amazon and free shipping is included. These hard drives connect to your USB port just as easily as those little flash drives.
Most external drives take advantage of the high speed of USB 3.0 ports, but they also work with older USB 2.0 ports.
The hard drive you see here is my external hard drive, known as My Passport and made by Western Digital. I bought this one a long time ago and it's only 500GB.
If I bought another one today I'd get the . But my 500GB WD is doing just fine. 1-TeraByte WD My Passport
You can back up everything without using special software because your PC will recognize the drive as another hard drive that you can drag and drop your directory of files onto.
In addition to your articles, you can back up your music, your photos and your videos in the same quick process. These are all data files that require a lot of space and 500 GB will go a long way to save all your data.
These drives are all around the size of a smart phone. So you can even carry it around with you. At times I've taken my external drive to a friends house so I would have access to my files while working on their computer.
You should get one of these drives and make a habit of backing up each day before you shut off your PC. You'll sleep easier knowing that everything will be there in the morning.
Plug-N-Play External Drives
External drives are plug-n-play, which means your computer will recognize it when you plug it into your USB port. There's nothing else to do.
Some drive manufacturers include a software CD with their special drivers. In some cases the drivers can be found on the drive itself, but you can also download from their websites.
However, I recommend not using their software. If you read the feedback people leave on Amazon you will usually find negative comments about the software. I personally just use the drive as is since they are usually plug-and-play anyway.
Manufacturer's software usually includes methods of copying and backing up files, but you can copy files and entire directories just by dragging and dropping. Anyway, the software just adds another resource hog that slows down your PC.
How To Copy Files to a Flash Drive or an External Hard Drive
There are many ways to copy your files. If you work on Windows you can drag individual files or complete folders between two windows, or you can do it from a single window. You can even use a DOS command. I'll explain all three methods.
Assuming you have all your files under "My Documents" or in individual folders under "My Documents" you can backup the entire folder to be sure you get everything you need for later recovery of your files. This will not back up the system files. We are just concentrating on saving your work files.
Send To Destination
This is how to send a file to an external device on Windows:
- Click "Start"
- Click “My Documents”.
- Right-click the folder in your “My Documents” that you want to backup.
- Right click and select “Send To”
- Select the flash drive or external hard drive letter. It may show as "Removable Drive"
- Wait for it to finish copying.
If this is not the first time you are backing up, it will ask you to confirm that you want to overwrite the prior files on the destination. There is nothing wrong with doing that. Windows does not have an option to backup only new or modified files.
Drag and Drop Between Two Windows
This is the methods of Drag and Drop for Windows:
- Click "Start"
- Click “My Documents” and a window will open.
- Click the folder you want to backup.
- Now click "Start" again.
- Click "My Computer" and another window will open.
- Click the drive letter for the external drive
- Resize and position the two windows side by side.
- Highlight the files, folder or folders in the source window that you want to copy to the external drive.
- Drag them over to the other window where you have the external drive.
- The files will all copy and display the results as it's progressing.
I come from the old DOS days and I still like taking advantage of DOS's XCOPY in a DOS batch command because XCOPY allows you to backup only modified files. This speeds up the process. If you don't know what DOS is, don't worry. Be happy you are still young.
DOS was the first operating system Microsoft used prior to Windows. It used line commands such as XCOPY. Here is how you can use XCOPY to backup all files in your "My Documents" folder. If you are using Windows, click "Start" and then "Run" and enter "CMD" to run the DOS command processor. Then enter the following command...
XCOPY "C:\DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS\OWNER\MY DOCUMENTS" "G:" /S /D /Y /I
This will copy all files and folders under "My Documents" to drive G, which in this case is the external drive. If your external drive is not G: then use the correct drive letter.
The letters after slashes are control parameters...
- /s means to include all subdirectories
- /d limits it only those files newer than destination.
- /y means to overwrite files on the external drive without asking.
- /I assumes destination is a directory if copying more than one file.
If you're serious about protecting yourself from losing your important work files, all you need to do is have a daily backup routine. Someday you'll be glad you did.
I have a question before you go...
Do you backup your files to a flash drive or external hard drive?
© 2011 Glenn Stok