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The Ultimate PC Data Backup & Recovery Guide
This is it. All you need to know about data backup and recovery, all neat and tidy in one place. Read on to become a master of data protection and recovery.
What do you do when your computer crashes?
Most users usually choose A and B before they decide to embrace C. Well cut straight to C and learn how finding, installing and managing the latest backup drives and technologies is easy.
How you use your computer will determine what backup system works best for you. If youre only backing up a few Microsoft Office documents every day, a basic backup drive without too much memory will probably suffice. But if you work with video files, youll need a fast, high-capacity backup drive, as six minutes of uncompressed high-definition video requires about 1GB of space on your drive. In general, the more digital equipment you own and use, the more hard drive space you need for working and backups.
Take a look at your computer and note what ports are available for plugging in a backup device. If space and ports are at a premium for you, Staples can install a second internal hard drive in most desktop enclosures (they usually have room for an additional drive) to serve as your backup.
The kind of backup thats right for you will depend on the type of PC and how you use it:
It is widely recommended that your backup drive be twice as large as your computers drive, so youll have room to archive old files and be able to back up current ones. Megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB) are measurements for how much data a drive can store; be sure to match GB to GB and so on when you calculate how much drive space you need.
Expect to pay between $100 (for 500GB drives) to $250 (for a 3TB drive). Most drives come with backup software and some drives include encryption software. Encryption is particularly valuable for businesses and professionals who keep copies of their backups off-site, as well as a safety mechanism if the hard drive gets stolen.
From flash drives that fit on your keychain to storing your data in the cloud, you have a variety of choices when it comes to where you back up your data:
Windows 7 Professional and above can control multiple hard drives using a software RAID setup, but they must be identical drives for optimal performance. Devices are available that can configure mismatched hard drives (for instance, a 500GB and a 2TB) into a RAID.
The best plan is to back up everything you use every day. Hard drive capacities have increased and prices have dropped to the point that this is possible. You may think you only need to back up key documents because you can reinstall your system and applications from their disks, but have you considered how long and tiresome that process will be? With everything backed up to an external hard drive, youll be back to work much quicker.
The software included with most external hard drives provides scheduling and auto-backup tools. Windows 7 contains backup software that is very good and it also supports network-attached computers.
Hard drives die when you least expect them to especially your backup drive! This is why it is important to make multiple backups of important files, photos, music and videos you cant afford to lose and keep a copy off-premises. Try to mix your media to ensure your data can be recovered easily.
Online backup services provide you with space to store your data in the cloud, meaning over the Internet into their servers. The main benefits of online backups are that your data is automatically stored off-site and copied to many servers, and it is automatically encrypted and checked for viruses before it is sent to the cloud.
The costs of online backups can add up because fees are ongoing and are based on how much data you store. Furthermore, if you back up lots of data, you may exceed the monthly limits of your Internet provider, incurring additional fees.
Physical backups have certain advantages over cloud services, such as the falling cost of large-capacity hard drives and ease of installation. However, hard drives can be stolen; if an accident occurs in your home or office, you can lose all the data on your computer and your backup (if you dont keep a backup copy offsite) and viruses that accidentally get backed up will reinfect your PC when you restore files.
Having multiple copies of your most important data makes sense, but you shouldnt stop there. Also create copies of all your passwords, serial numbers and activation codes for any software you may need to reinstall, as well as information needed to reconnect your restored computer to your home network and the Internet.
If you have lots of passwords to keep track of, free programs are available that help you manage and encrypt all your passwords in one easy-to-use application.
Now its time for the post-test: What do you do after you establish a working backup system?
Still craving more data? Head back to the Staples Tech Services Tips & Advice section for even more data-related brain food.