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Computer BackupsMost of us are aware of the importance of performing regular backups for our websites. If you have ever had a problem with your website and lost some of your work you quickly learn to make backups. You should never count on your host to keep these up for you. Although most do a pretty good job there is always the possibility that they could have data loss.

Another backup we often forget about or overlook are files and data on our own personal computer(s). How much information, files, pictures, etc. do you store on your computer? What if your computer died? I know it is kind of rare and we don’t like to think about them, and hope that it never happens, but what if? Can you recover it should something happen? Are you willing to lose years worth of work as a result of not planning or having a backup in place? Despite what you think or would like to believe computers, hard drives, flash drives, even DVD and CD’s do not last forever.

The backup system that comes with Windows XP is pretty much worthless. I have never used a Vista based computer so I can’t comment on it. I do currently use Windows 7 and it includes a backup and restore utility system that can be scheduled. The system file restore that comes with Windows 7 is another almost worthless feature that you should never count on, but that is another story.

It doesn’t do any good if you do not have some form of external drive or media to save a backup to. If you have a lot of files on your computer a backup probably won’t even fit on a DVD. It might fit on a flash drive if you have one with large enough capacity. Your best bet would be an external hard drive as they have plenty of space, and are fairly reasonable in price.

Even with a large external hard drive you can fill it up pretty fast when it comes to backups. You will likely need to rotate them out, use incremental backups, or reduce the frequency at which you perform them.

I have not actually restored a backup using Windows 7, but the process appears easy enough. I generally do not rely on any kind of built in backup feature by Microsoft / Windows. They do seem to be getting better over the years, but previous experience tells me never to rely on any form of a Microsoft / Windows backup. I tend to use 3rd party software to accomplish backup tasks.

There are a number of Free Backup Softare programs available for various Windows operating systems that I have used in the past. The ones I have used do an excellent job and are fairly fast. I have used them to both make and restore a backup with Windows XP. Thankfully I have not had to restore a backup with Windows 7 yet.

The two that I use are Macrium Reflect Free and Paragon Free Backup. Both are very good alternatives to the Windows 7 backup feature.

Backups can be time-consuming depending on the speed of your computer, the number and size of your actual files. But, spending a few minutes to maybe an hour per week making a backup is nothing compared to what you could potentially lose. Most backup software can also be configured or scheduled to run at a desired time automatically.

The ideal time and frequency will be up to you to decide of course. Keep in mind making frequent backups will fill an external hard drive in a hurry. If you don’t do a lot of work on your computer monthly or bimonthly backups might be sufficient. Power users might perform weekly backups or possibly even a couple per week.

No matter what your choice of backup software or frequency the important thing is just do it. Don’t procrastinate and put it off. Don’t assume that nothing will go wrong or happen to your computer because it can and does happen. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start researching and preparing now if you haven’t already.

You really don’t want to be doing this any time soon:

Computer Frustration

 

What you might use:
1. External hard drive with plenty of storage space
2. Windows 7 / Vista included backup utility feature
3. Optionally Macrium Reflect / Paragon / or similar backup program

Windows XP and earlier:
1. External hard drive with plenty of storage space
2. Macrium Reflect / Paragon / or similar backup program

References:
http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx
http://www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/

There are plenty of other free and paid backup solutions out there. I just mentioned two that I have been pleased with. They are easy to use and the results have been great.

About: Jeremy LeSarge - AKA: Ray (212 Posts)

I am the site owner and administrator of DialMe.com. I provide help and tips for Boonex Dolphin on the main part of this website where you will also find an assortment of other resources. Here, on the blog I write about a variety of topics surrounding WordPress, technology, social media/networking, SEO, and webmaster resources.