Friday, April 13, 2007

Backing up is NOT hard to do

Computer experts all agree the best way to safeguard your information is to back it up. Nothing can safeguard your data like a good back up program. The absolute best backup method is to create a set of redundant hard drives, or an array or drives – called RAID array’s. The most cost effective method of backup is to riteable media and then to external drives.

There are numerous ways to back up your data. These include backing up to blank writeable media such as cdrw and dvdrw. Dual layer DVD’s can offer almost 9 Gb of storage space. External drives such as USB 2.0 and firewire also offer a fast backup as well. With these external USB/Firewire devices you can even buy your own hard drive and install it into the enclosure. It is not uncommon to have 250 Gb of space for backup.

USB keys are another option, however they do comer at a premium price, and limited storage capacity. 8 Gb is about average. These are excellent for critical data, such as spreadsheets and documents. You can also back up your data to the Internet using 3rd party services. You will require a fast internet connection however as these processes are all dependant on how fast you can upload your data to their servers for safe keeping.

All the aforementioned backup options have pros and cons. RAID arrays cost the most because you require several additional hard drives. External drives are portable and prices are dropping every day. Writeable media is considerable less expensive, but very time consuming in backing up and retrieving your data. USB memory keys are not large enough, and online backups require a monthly subscription. They are also the slowest – but the most secure. After all, if there was a power surge, and your computer was damaged, your data would be safe and sound because it is not onsite. Onsite and offsite storage refers to where your data resides.

Not all back up software programs are created equal. Some programs do not support backing up to certain devices, although not as common now. It used to be that USB external drives were not supported as back up devices. Some back up software simply make backups of your data on the same drive itself. Not very safe if your drive stops working. Catch 22 – how can I retrieve my data from my damaged drive – if my drive is damaged…