Lack of backup is one of the greatest cause of despair I have to deal with in my clients. So many don’t, backup that is, or if they do, it is often inadequate and not everything they want recovered after a disaster. The most common problem requiring a backup is a hard disk failure but other security issues are more ane more frequent. What can actually happen if you have a security issue and how can it be avoided? For most computers; an up-to-date virus checker and maintained firewall will prevent security problems. So, before that hard disk failure (or stolen computer for that matter) what precautions can you take? For personal documents and photos held on your machine? Back them up in at least two different USB thumb drives or SD cards weekly and monthly. Don’t backup your whole system, just keep all important files in My Documents and back just that folder up.
It’s not really worth doing a full backup of all your computer since applications will need to be reinstalled anyway. If you make sure that important stuff is in ‘My Documents’ (this might include your mail files if, say, you use Outlook on your computer rather than over the web) then if your hard disk fails or gets corrupted, you can restore to a new computer, replacement hard disk or overwrite the damaged files. This can be time-consuming but restoring is usually quicker and more likely to be successful than repairing. I recently spent 20 hours rebuilding a client’s massive archive of outlook emails. This required a specialist repair tool as well – but had they taken backups, all could have been resolved in minutes.
What should I backup onto? USB sticks come in affordable sizes up to 500gb (or more but not really affordable yet) but better value is a USB hard disk. Amazon have plenty but I’d recommend one that is powered from the usb slot (its less clutter) rather than a separate power supply, at least 500gb and with backup software to run it in the background. Search for thise in Amazon (.fr understands English) Look for USB3 if you have it on your computer faster (if you do have it) and compatible with standard usb2.
I personally use dropbox for all my current photos so they copy to the “cloud” (on some machine or machines somewhere on the internet); the remainder of My Documents I periodically copy changes to an external USB3 drive. All my work related files (web sites and email) are already in the “cloud” but I also back those up and copy them onto my external drive in case the companies that own the servers on which I store my web sites goes bust, gets nuked or some less unlikely disaster. Every few months I copy the entire changed contents of the external drive to another external drive. Belt and braces! By the way “SyncToy” is a great utility to speed up the backup process, it can handle just the changed files. I might do a review sometime but in the meantime google it and try it out for yourself.