It used to be that family photos were always nice and safe in albums and shoeboxes and that was that. But that won’t do anymore.
Ditto for all the letters, term papers, Quicken files and iTunes music tracks, not to mention e-mail messages and addresses in your e-mail address book.
Your computer is handy for storing all these things, but it’s also very quick to lose them all when something bad happens – like a visitor accidentally erasing files, a hard drive failure, or a virus attack.
These things can happen quite suddenly and once those files are gone, they’re pretty much gone for good. So now, we make backups. A sort of digital shoebox.
Simple copies or automatic backups
If you don’t store a lot of photos and documents on your computer then making an occasional copy of important files may do for you. All you need is to make a copy of your files onto some storage gizmo that is external to your computer. A CD-ROM will do just fine if it has enough capacity to hold your backup. For more than around 700MB you’ll want to look at a “flash drive” or an “external hard drive.”
You can find flash drives at a drug store or super market that will hold up to 8 or 16GB (gigabytes) but if you need to backup more than 4GB, you’ll want to look at external hard drives, too. You can find those at a computer or department store.
For small backups on any computer – Mac or Windows – you can drag-and-drop files and folders from your computer’s hard disk to the backup device whenever you wish.
E-mail software often keeps the mail and address books in hidden places on the computer. If you want backups of your e-mail you should think about an automatic program.
Automatic backups: using a backup program
External hard drives usually come with an automatic backup program that help handle making backups for you. Both Mac’s and Windows also come with programs for making backups. The Mac system, “Time Machine,” is especially easy to use and works with many external drives.
Another option gaining popularity for both Windows and Macs is remote backup. For a monthly fee, a service company will back up all of your data at a secure “undisclosed location” someplace on the Internet. These off-site backups are nice because they are fully automatic, completely safe from local dangers like theft or fire, and the backup service provides the backup software as part of the deal.
Computer disasters can come quickly and right out of nowhere. With so many options for making secure copies, there’s almost no reason to not be backed-up.
Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy