Backing Up

If you use your computer for just playing games, browsing the Internet and have an online email, the only files you may want to backup are your bookmarks/favorites and your saved games. However if you also have some media files (like mp3s, pictures, movies, etc.) and especially if you use your computer for work, you need to make regular backups.

It’s up to you to decide which backup media to use – CDs, DVDs or external hard disk, and how often you will backup – daily, weekly or as soon as you create a new file. You can even use a dedicated backup software, however most of these programs are targeted at business and corporate users and can be quite complicated. For a home or a small business: the simpler the backup process is – the better it works and the chance of failed backup or error is smaller. Best is to just copy your documents and arrange them in folders by date.

There are some advantages and disadvantages to the different types of backup media:

CDs and DVDs are very cheap but have limited capacity. They have good lifespan, usually 5 to 10 years, and are very sturdy, but you will need a good large case to store them and some kind of filing system, so you can easily find that document you typed two years ago when you need it. Also some brands of CDs and DVDs last a lot less than others and can go “bad” in just a couple of years. For best results and longevity use either premium quality, Verbatim or Taiyo Yuden. Also I would advise against using re-writable disks. There’s no point in buying a more expensive CD that has higher chance of failure, just with the hope that you will erase it and use it again. With both CDs and DVDs costing about $0.30 – $0.40 each, why would you want to erase and reuse them.

External hard disks are quite large, currently the “usual” size is 250GB or 320GB and that will go to 500GB soon. You can store a lot of files on one of these and quickly and easily find anything you need. However like all electronic devices they break if you drop them and although portable, it’s not a very good idea to carry them with you. Furthermore all external hard disks suffer from the same failures like the internal ones and need to be scanned for errors regularly.

Flash memory in any form (USB flash drives or memory cards – SD, MMC, Memory Stick, etc.) are not good backup media. They are not only small in capacity, but also have a finite number of writes and will fail after it’s reached.

Another backup option for a smaller number of small files like text documents, spreadsheets, a few important pictures, etc. is to make an online email account at gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc. and email them to yourself. That way you will be able to access them from any Internet connected computer and also you can keep them for years.

And finally: you should never email or backup sensitive information without encrypting it first.


  • #4 by deck April 8, 2013 at: 7:27 am

    i use an seagate 2tb to make my backups … is much easier to do it … and i got an software that does that for you while you sleep…
    works for me… its good to know that all your data is safe =)

  • #3 by Bytesland April 6, 2011 at: 4:27 am

    Backup is the activity of copying files or databases so that they will be preserved in case of equipment failure or other catastrophe. Backup is usually a routine part of the operation of large businesses with mainframes as well as the administrators of smaller business computers. For personal computer users, backup is also necessary but often neglected. The retrieval of files you backed up is called restoring them. So protect your work do the backup!

  • #2 by winner November 29, 2010 at: 9:36 am

    Yes, the backup is an important operating the computer, especially for a programmer is more important. If a hard written procedures, because there is no good backup and lost, it would be a great headache.

  • #1 by clogman August 28, 2008 at: 3:15 am

    There’s a lot of freeware tools around for synchronising the folders on your computer with the back-up folders you create on a USB drive or DVD-RW.
    One such is SyncBack ( which I’ve used for a while.
    It will compare the contents of your working folders with the backup, and only copy or update anything that’s changed or new. You can group folders together. For example, your My Documents folder, plus your Outlook mail folders, plus all your Firefox mail – separate areas on your computer, and you make three separate profiles, then put all three into one group profile. Backing everything up becomes a one-click operation. The easier it is to do, the more likely you are to do it!