Windows backup – Don’t leave it until it is too late!
Using Windows backup software to make backup copies of all your important data is one of those tasks that most computer users never get around to. Figuring out how to use backup software just seems too boring. That is until something goes wrong and suddenly all those important documents you were working on can’t be accessed any more. All too often, people only learn about the need to backup their data after they have lost a large proportion of it due to a hardware failure.
It Will Happen to You!
Unfortunately, computer components, like all other machines, do eventually wear out. While components like the CPU (central processing unit) and the computers memory can last for many decades, hard drives are precision mechanical instruments and usually have life-spans of around five years, though this can vary considerably. Other types of media, such as USB stick drives or flash cards use a different type of storage but are still susceptible to wear and failure. Even the humble compact disc, once thought to be nearly indestructible under normal usage conditions, has shown to be less robust than we originally thought. Even if your disks never fail (and they will) what about you? Have you ever accidentally deleted something and then realised you needed it? Most people have, after all, that is why you can open the recycle bin in Windows and retrieve things you deleted! In short, there’s no escaping it, if you store valuable data on your computer then you are going to have to backup that data.
Your hard drive will fail eventually!
Here’s a statistic that you simply cannot dispute. 100% of hard drives that remain in use will fail eventually, it is simply a matter of time. If you don’t plan your backup strategy now, then it is almost certain you will lose some data or have to pay to have your data recovered. Professional data recovery laboratories can charge thousands just to inspect a faulty hard drive!
Planning Your Backup Strategy
While using Windows backup software isn’t too complicated, understanding what to backup often is. This problem isn’t helped by the fact that Windows is a complex operating system that stores potentially important data in many different places. There are all kinds of Windows backup software available but before you rush out and buy a cutting edge backup solution, you should carefully consider your needs.
Consider the data on your computer, we can split it roughly into two categories:-
Programs – These are the things you install and run on your computer. They include word processors, web browsers, games, music players and anything and everything that runs on your computer.
Data – This is information that programs work with. It includes word processor documents, spreadsheets, music and video files, digital photographs, saved game positions and anything and everything that the programs you run on your computer work with.
Now, although it is possible to make a complete copy of your hard drive, most home users only need to backup their data files. Making a complete copy of your hard drive (called a “hard drive image” or “hard drive snapshot”) does have some advantages. In the event of a failure, this type of backup can have you up and running again in minutes rather than hours or even days. Doing a complete copy of your hard dive also makes sure that every piece of data (valuable or useless) is saved. However, making a complete copy of your computers hard drive is time consuming and potentially quite expensive in terms of the amount of storage space needed. Because of this most home users are better off just backing up their data. In the event of a complete failure of your computers hard disk, programs (including Windows itself) can be re-loaded onto the computer from their original disks, or downloaded again from the internet. While this can be time consuming, hopefully this kind of failure will not happen very often!
Having decided what to backup, you need to decide which media to store your backup data to and how to go about backing it up. The next part of our guide will discuss the different types of storage media you can use when backing up data, click the link below to go to the next part of the guide.
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