Please, Back Up Your Data!

All too often, we see clients who rarely, if ever, back up their critical data. And in all the years we’ve been repairing computers, we’ve never seen one break at a convenenient time. More often than not, your hard drive will fail at precisely the time you can least-afford to lose your data.

If all you use your computer for is occasional email or web browsing, a hard drive failure may not be too critical. But we’ll often go into a new client’s office and find their critical files aren’t being backed up, either locally on workstations, or on their server.

Even worse are those network installs we’ve encountered that don’t even include backup devices.

A recent issue of PC Magazine had an article on the nuts and bolts of data backup. It contained a lot of the same concepts that we’ve been preaching for eons and the highlights are worth repeating here.

  • Identify what you absolutely can’t afford to lose – photographs, financial information, address book, downloaded music, etc. – and ensure that they get backed up regularly.
  • For local computer and workstations, backup to compact disks if at all possible. They’re cheap, fast, safe and easy. If you have more data than will fit on a CD, go to DVD (which holds about 6 times more than a CD).  • If your files won’t fit on a DVD… think about a more professional backup system such as a REV drive from Iomega. If you have that much data, it is worth the investment in a professional backup solution to protect it.
  • Determine your optimal backup schedule by asking yourself how much data would be a hardship to reproduce if it were lost. Those who can’t afford to lose even one day’s work should back up every day. If recreating a week’s worth is no problem, then a weekly backup may do the trick. Either way, take the time to do the backup – recreating the data will take you much longer!
  • Store one copy of your data off-site. If your home or office burns down, backup disks that are sitting next to the computer won’t help you much.
  • Collect the installation CDs for all of your programs and store them together. Make copies of those disks that are critical to your business and keep them off-site.
  • Don’t be too quick to trash or overwrite older backups. If you encounter file troubles (data corruption or virus infection, for example), the most recent backup of that file may have the same problem.
  • Multiple solutions, such as daily back-ups on CD or DVD and weekly backups on a REV drive or tape system, give you more effective recovery and better protection.
  • Most consumer programs won’t copy files that are in use. Be sure to close all files before you run a backup. This is particularly important to note on server-based systems: You must invest in an open-file backup option for your backup system.
  • Check backups often to make sure they’re current (open the disk and verify the date of a recently used file). All too often, we hear horror stories from people who were convinced that they were backing up properly, only to find that nothing was actually being written to the disk or tape.

Backing up your important files can be painless. The same cannot be said of losing them. Give us a call and we’ll show how to make it quick and easy.