As a user we usually always just use our computers and never really worry about loosing our data.. that is until it happens to us. From then on we try to think of ways to stop this from happening again.
There as so many ways to do backups it is sometimes hard to decide just how to do
them. Below we will explain backup types and related info.
Then we will look at a few examples on backup methods and how often to do the backups.
File Copy Backup:
Simple user files can be copied to external disks or writable CD’s and then put away for safe keeping. To make things easy for us we can buy backup programs where we can pre-select what we want to backup then just have the program do it either manually or automatically.
Disk Image Backup:
The only problem with the File Copy backup is the fact we may forget to include files, directories or can’t select files that are locked for backup. Then what if the whole hard-disk fails completely, we would loose not only our personal data files but also our whole computer operating system.
Here is where Disk Imaging comes in. If you use a program to image your hard-disk it will store every thing that is on it including all your user files and the operating system. If you hard-disk fails, you can put in a new blank hard-disk and put your last disk image on it and away you go. After the image is restored to your new drive, your complete computer system and all your personal files are just as they were when you last imaged the computer.
No matter which method you choose to use, you must remember to either manually do the backup process or if the software allows.. schedule the backups to re-occur often.
Now that you may have decided on which method to use, you will need to decide where to backup all your data to.
Backup to CD…..
At first you might think to use CD’s all the time. After awhile you will find out that it takes time to do this and you will soon lose interest if you are doing backups often. If you only do backups 1x a month then CD’s may be the way to go.
Backup to External Hard-Drive:
If you have a lot of data or it changes often or if you want to really protect your computer operating system as much as possible you may be backing up your disk daily. Here is another idea on how you can do this. Use an external USB large drive, like a Maxtor 200 gig or larger. Some backup programs do full backups with incremental backups between full ones. The backups can be scheduled as often as you like as long as you do not run out of disk space. This is why you want a larger, rather than smaller external hard-disk.
Then maybe 1 time a month, or when you feel comfortable, you can copy your data from the external hard-disk to CD’s. If a lot of space is used, then maybe just after the next full backup you could put it to CD’s. This is all done by personal preference and depends on just how much data you have.
Simple File Copy Backup:
Copy your files either manually or with a program to an external hard-disk or better yet a CD. Some programs can even zip the files as they are being backed up to save space.
Simple Disk Image Backup:
Purchase a simple Disk Image program that only uses some version of DOS to create the image.
Here is how this works. 1st you normally have to boot to a boot disk or CD. Then the Disk Image program can make the image either to an external CD or hard-disk. These programs are usually cheaper than the ones that work in windows. The only disadvantage is that you have to manually do this and it is not normally automated.
This is a very good way to backup your entire system, it just doesn’t have all the bells and whistles the windows programs do. It is only in recent years that programs have been made to be able to do imaging in windows while windows is running.
For those of you that may be as paranoid as I am, here is another method:
1st get a Disk Image Backup program that can schedule full and incremental backups at the same time. It is also a good idea to have a program that can do the Disk Imaging while your computer is running in Windows and not require you to do it in DOS. Norton Ghost can do this.
2nd get an external hard-drive. Make sure the drive is USB2 and that your computer has USB2 ports. If you only have USB 1 ports, then upgrade to a USB2 plug in card.
Now schedule the backup to do Full backups 1x a month and daily to do an incremental backup.
If you do a lot on your computer, you can tell the program to do more incrementals per day. You will also tell the backup program how many full+incremental backups to keep. Keep at least 2 full backups with incrementals. After that, the program will automatically delete the old backups once a new one is made.
Now when ever you like, you can copy any full or full+incremental backup to CD.
Real Paranoid Backup Variation:
If you are afraid that a virus or some bad thing may create havoc to your computer
you want your backup data to be stored in a safe place…..
you are worried that that a new program install or system update may go bad, then use the following method:
1. Do exactly as shown in the Paranoid Backup above.
2. Now stop using the external hard-drive for at least maybe a minute and make sure
nothing is using the drive. Make sure a backup is not in progress. Now power down
the external hard-drive.
3. Unplug all the wires from the external hard-drive and put the external hard-drive in a
Now you’re fully covered including theft of your backup data, if you have put the backup drive in a safe place.
Now as often as you like, reconnect the external hard-drive and either manually initiate a backup or wait for the schedule to start. Then remove the drive again when you want to.
This is a good method to use just before a system update, upgrade or new program install. Then if everything is running good after a few days, start doing your normal backup method again.
Things to think about:
It is a It is a good idea to backup your data to a CD every so often, even if just every 6 months.
It is possible that something can go wrong with the OS and you may not notice it for weeks or even months. If this happens and you didn’t copy backups to CD, very often, then you’re stuck fixing it or reloading if you can’t fix it.
Sometimes spyware and bad things have a way of sometimes only showing their ugly faces only a little to start with or are set to take off on certain dates.
There are so many variations on how to backup, it is impossible to show them all. After reading this article hopefully you will at least have some idea about how you may want to start designing your own backup strategy.