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Four Easy Ways to Backup Your Computer Files

Do you have a system for backing up your computer files?  If you have pictures or files you don’t want to lose, you’ll want to make a back-up copy.   We’ve pulled together some information on what can happen to your computer, as well as the pros and cons of four methods to back-up your computer files.  This is one project you don’t want to put off.

What can happen to computers?

Data loss can occur if your computer:

  • crashes
  • obtains a virus
  • is stolen
  • incurs a power surge
  • gets damaged by a natural disaster (flood, hurricane, tornado)

Of course, there’s always a chance that you might accidentally delete a file, and need to get it back.  Let’s look at four ways you can back-up your files.

External Hard Drive

One of the easiest ways to back-up your computer files is with an external hard drive.  This is a device that is the size of a small book.

Backup External Hard Drive

Some external hard drives can be connected to your wireless network, and scheduled to automatically back-up your files daily.  If it isn’t connected to your network, you can plug it in to the USB drive of your computer, and back up your files manually.

Pros: This method is very simple.  When set up to automatically back-up daily, it ensures your files are backed up.  These devices hold a lot of data, so all of the files and pictures from a household computer should fit on just one external hard drive.

Cons: External hard drives have been known to fail.  So you may want to consider a secondary back-up file.  This happened to me, and my heart sank.  I could not believe the hard drive wouldn’t turn on.  However, I was so relieved that my pictures were backed-up in another spot.  These devices also cost a little more money, generally ranging from $80 – $200 depending on the brand and amount of storage space.

USB Flash Drives

USB Flash Drives are small storage devices a little shorter than a stick of gum.  They vary in storage space.  Some hold as little as 2 GB of data.  The most common ones hold 4, 8, 16 or 32 GB of data.  If you’re backing up your entire computer, including pictures, you’ll need one of the larger sizes, such as 64 or 128 GB.

Backup USB Flash Drive

Pros: They are small and easy to use.  The back-up process is fast, especially if all of your information fits on one or two flash drives.  They are relatively inexpensive.  Most of the smaller ones can be purchased on sale for $8 – 40.  They are very easy to store in a small case.  You can transport them easily.  They are relatively reliable.  I’ve owned many of these, and not one has failed yet.

Cons: If you have a lot of files, it can be expensive to back-up your files this way.

CDs and DVDs

While backing-up files via CD/DVD is a little old-fashioned, it is still a reliable option, especially for backing-up pictures.

Backup CD

Pros: From a personal experience, this method has been more reliable than an external hard drive.  The CDs are relatively inexpensive.  You can purchase them on sale for $5 – 20, depending on how many come in the package.

Cons: If you have a lot of pictures, you’ll need quite a few CDs.  It is also time-consuming to back-up your pictures this way.  The CDs have been known to fail.  Be sure to confirm that your pictures were transferred to the CD.

Offsite Companies

There are companies that offer to store your files.  You simply go to their website, pay for their service.  Then upload your files through the internet, and your files will be stored off-site.

Pros: This method is good for protecting against natural disasters and house fires, since your files are stored off-site.

Cons: We are always concerned about the privacy of our information.  By transferring it to an outside firm, you no longer maintain control over the security.  Files could be hacked into, no matter how secure or encrypted.

Keep an older copy of your backed-up files

If you are backing up your files on a regular basis, it is possible that your back-up files will be corrupt.  For example, if your computer obtained a virus last week, and you didn’t know it.  By over-writing your files each day, you could be backing up files that are corrupt with a virus.  In other words, it’s great to back-up daily to an external hard drive or to an outside company.  However, if your computer gets a virus, do not assume that the files you backed up the night before can be recovered virus-free.  So it’s a good idea to keep an older copy of your backed up files on hand.  It’s better than nothing at all.

Now that you have a few ideas, it’s time to get to work.  This is something you don’t want to put off.  If your computer crashes, or gets a virus, you’ll be glad to have a back-up file (or two) to access.