Understanding WHERE to Back Up to

July 25, 2007 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Backup, Computers | 3 Comments

The idea of Backup is to always have at least 2 copies of your work. Whenever you reach a key point such as a completed draft, you also want to back it up to an archive like a CD. A CD-R is uneditable so the dates on it are fixed.

Automating your backup is ideal as then you won’t forget at a key point. Automated real time backup is perfect.

The following lists places you might back up to and their merits.
Copying the file to another location on your hard drive will save you if the file gets corrupted such as in a computer crash or power failure.

Copying the file to another hard drive inside your computer will also save you if the hard drive dies. And they do. Sometimes without warning. (You can also archive to CD but this system is more inclined to fail when automated. Its better as a manual secondary way, as an archive)

Copying the file to an external hard drive, such as the ones you can get at office supply places, will save you if your computer dies. Its also easier if you don’t have a second hard drive as above. While the files may still be present on a dead computer, it doesn’t help if you need to fix it before you can work. An external drive can be plugged into any computer and you’re back up again. (They are also large enough to store your photos, videos, etc but don’t forget to archive those too.)

Alternately, as some files like Documents are also not very large they can be backed up to a USB or “Thumb” drive. Small ones can be quite cheap. You can get a 2GB unit on sale for $30. Thats big enough for your work, plus you can get fancy and load PortableApps on there. http://portableapps.com/ This is a free suite of applications, including OpenOffice Write (Much like MS Word) that will run from any computer. Just plug it in and a special Start menu opens up. You then have your complete office in your pocket, usable from almost any computer. All your programs, settings and files. It can also be a handy way to travel rather than lugging around a laptop. It is however small so easily lost if you’re inclined that way…

And finally, you may also want to consider off-site backup. All that nice backup system is of not much use if you have a fire or other act of nature. I’d suggest this as a secondary system as it would not be real-time. Perhaps a real time local backup as above, then off-site weekly and at key completion points. Here’s an article on the subject with some services, some free. http://askbobrankin.com/online_backup.html


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  1. […] Dell recently introduced an online backup service. See the intro video as a concept overview […]


  2. […] the newer Western Digital external drives at Costco (Canada)  for an excellent price. (in “Where to back up“, I cover why […]


  3. Another quick and dirty trick for online backup is to create a free gmail.com account. Set it to retain a copy. Then email your latest work each day to this account. It will keep a copy (with your work) online and accessible to you from a web browser anywhere in the world. If it’s a separate account only used for backup, you don’t need to download the email.

    Gmail gives you much more drive space free than online backup tools and needs no extra software but backup has to be done manually. You can set yourself a reminder to get the habit going


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