Prevent disaster : back up your precious data!

A couple of weeks ago, my computer started acting very slow. I noticed it when I was looking at my emails and it would take minutes to display each one. I knew this was not supposed to be the case. Thinking it was malware related, I paid a visit to VirtualDr forum, where I knew I could get some help. Sure enough, Broni helped me and the diagnosis came down: the computer was totally clean, and the problem was NOT malware related. The other options were not as pleasant. More tests indicated bad sectors on my hard drive. THAT is a bad sign. Many bad sectors (and I had 99) are often the sign of the beginning of the end. I was lucky in two ways: I found that problem before total failure of the HD, and I had an automatic backup made on a daily basis so I would not loose my data even if the HD had completely failed. I didn’t need to panic. I set up an appointment with the technician and now, my computer is running as it should. Did this ever happen to you? Did you ever wonder what would happen if you lost all your photos, layouts, scrapbooking material, programs and other data? What do you do to prevent such disaster?

In this day and age, so much is stored on our computers now. Sometimes, some information is ONLY available on your computer and you don’t even have a paper version of it so loosing it can be a real problem. There are many tools and habits that can help you save your precious information. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Manual backup

Once in a while, you have to do something to your computer that might affect your data. When you know such an event is coming, you can choose to make your own backup. You can save some critical data on DVD (like some downloaded programs) or on External Hard Drives (EHD). You can choose to save all your files from a certain period onto some DVDs and repeat the process every year (like all your 2010 photos, all your emails for the month). Nowadays, EHD are getting fairly inexpensive. Although they are not 100% infallible, they surely can be a good support for backups. DVDs can be very useful too, but depending on the amount of information you need to store on them, you might end up having quite a pile of them. Windows has a function to make manual backups. I am sure Mac would too. Set yourself a reminder if you want to make manual backups on a regular basis.

Automatic backupTrue_Image_Home_2011_ATI_2011_250x250

Making sure you backup your data regularly can be a bit frustrating because it is so easy to forget, or procrastinate (“I’ll do it tomorrow”). A couple of years ago, I bought Acronis True Image Home. It cost me about $50, but I figured my data were certainly worth at least that much! Acronis let me set a schedule of backups in any location I want (DVD, other drive, EHD) and even in two separate locations at the same time, and also lets me choose what folders I want backed up. I can also set up different types of backups with different schedules. In my case, I chose to do a full system backup every week (on Wednesday during the middle of the day, when I usually am at work), and incremental backups of the folders that I use regularly, on a daily basis. Although backups are often thought of a way to recover data in case of disaster, it can also be used in case of accidental deletion of files. This happened to me a while ago when I installed a newer version of a program: although the previous version was supposed to be spared, some folders were overwritten, meaning I was loosing all the files that were already stored in them. Lucky for me, I had a previous backup and I was able to retrieve those files without any problem.

 

Online backup

Online backups generally have the advantage of saving your data if something physical happens to your computer and its surroundings (like a flood or other natural disaster). Online backups, however, have one disadvantage: they have to rely on your particular internet connection and your specific plan too. If you are on dialup, using online backup will be a very long process. If you have a limited bandwidth plan, you could easily go over that limit in a short time, incurring some hefty additional fees. If you have a good speed internet connection, and an unlimited bandwidth plan, you might want to consider online backups. Here are some possible online services:

Acronis True Image Home does offer an online option for their backup. It will go up to 250GB and will cost about $5 a month. One interesting advantage of this service is that you can use this service in combination with your automatic backups and you can choose to backup only certain folders, or go differential (which means that it will only save the files that were changed since the last backup instead of saving everything all over again). Maybe that could help those on limited bandwidth plans or those with slower internet connection.

Mozy, Carbonite, Blackblaze, CrashPlan, are other known online backup services. Their costs are kind of similar in the start, but you will have to check more details. Some services will let you backup EHD in addition to your internal HD but others won’t. Some will let you backup more than one computer while some may charge you more. Some will charge you a flat fee for up to a certain amount of storage space, but then, you will pay additional fee for more than that basic limit. You will also want to check if the backup will be dependant on the current content of your computer, and backup will only mirror what you have or if you can delete files from your computer and still have them backed up and save on their server. You will also have to ask about retrieving your data in case you loose your own copy. How do you get them? Do you have to download them (meaning it will take time and bandwidth)? Do you get them on a HD by mail? Do you have to pay for the retrieval service? If so, how much? Can you retrieve only part of the stored data or do you have to get everything even if you only need some?

Check them out

Although I mentioned some online backup services, you can surely find different ones if you search the net. New services might come up, old ones might disappear. Costs and features can change over time too. Check things out for yourself. Do your research. Ask around for recommendations; try services before you buy into them if it is possible.

What would you do if you lost your data tomorrow? What is your backup plan? When is the last time you backed up your precious photos or files?

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
For Photos That Matter

4 thoughts on “Prevent disaster : back up your precious data!”

  1. I think your case is typical of what happens when people’s computers start going slow.
    Although most computer owners fear that their devices have been somehow infected by a virus, malware, spyware or been hacked, scanning usually shows that there is a different reason for delaying tasks, Internet browsing etc.
    To prevent a hard disk disaster and loss of vital data, the following steps are strongly recommended:
    1) Backup when you buy your device and just before you first use it to interact online.
    2) Backup on a daily basis, just after you finish work or whatever you do with your computer. This is a task that most computer users and owners omit and forget, and as a result, there are so many sudden, unexpected (?) computer failures, leaving people with less (or more grey) hair, every time this happens!

  2. Hi everyone,.
    I once had a huge problem with my hard drive and was very glad the I me a few days before the great program of Acronis bought.
    I have backed up all my files on an external hard drive I bought only for back up. So, I could start again after my crash directly from the external hard drive.
    I personally can only recommend this program, although it is somewhat expensive.
    It is worth his money.

    Love greetings
    Silvia B.

    * the talking unfortunately no English *

Leave a Comment

Skip to toolbar