Everyone who uses a computer to save or store files will at some time or another
experience that heart stopping moment when they realize their files are lost.
Don't let those files be lost forever. It's plain and simple: if you use a
computer, you need to backup your data. It's not a question of whether you
should, but rather how you should...
day individuals, businesses, and organizations
lose their precious files due to a drive failure,
inadvertent deletion, or other unwanted action
or event. The result is a great deal of stress,
anxiety, and in the case of businesses, lost
computer hard drive that stores all your data
has moving parts, and in time your hard drive
will wear out and fail. It's just a matter of
You need to keep a copy of all your important
Apart from hard drive failure, there are many
other likely scenarios that may result in the
loss of your valuable files like power
failures and spikes, or system and file corruption
due to a viruses, worms, or other malicious attacks.
You need to store a copy of all your
important files in a different location to
where your computer is situated. It's not a great
deal of use having the copy of your files on
your external hard drive which is constantly
plugged into your computer. A thief won't leave
your additional drive for you to recover your
lost files, a fire or flood won't distinguish
between your computer and your external drive.
At the very least, keep your copy in a different
location in your home. If possible, keep your
backup copy in an entirely different building.
Some choose to backup their data onto remote
servers via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or by
other means. Others use the services of off-site
backup over the Internet. Be mindful however
your data is your responsibility. The moment
that data to a third party to keep safe, new
risks involving the potential compromise of that
services availability and security arise.
The Ultimate Backup
There are circumstances when a backup might
also be inadvertently corrupted or over-written.
Regularly creating a third backup stored in a
less convenient to administer, provides you
with the greatest security against loosing your
data. If however you are unlikely to backup often
this third location, it's not going to be worth
your while as a backup needs to be updated frequently
to be of any value.
What data should
be backed up?
In addition to your pictures, videos, music,
Word documents, spreadsheets, databases, emails etc, you'll also
want to keep a copy of all the programs you use
so that if necessary they may be easily reinstalled
at a later date. I, for example, copy any new programs I
download and install from the Internet in a special
folder that gets backed up as part of
my backup routine.
One especially important program
to backup is the program you use for the backup
procedure itself. You'll also need to save
the serial number for this program and others
in a secure yet memorable location
so you can restore your backup to the original
location at a later date should you need to.
you use your computer for business purposes
you will also need to backup all the information
from your financial software, inventory
customer databases, and other specialist
To make an exact copy of your drive, including
your Windows operating system, you must use 'disk
imaging' software. Disk imaging copies the entire
disk (the parts that are used) bit-by-bit. This
results in a copy that will take up a lot of
disk space, and take much longer to copy. Disk
imaging isn't generally the best answer to backing
up for a number of reasons.
Windows operating environment is constantly
changing. Programs are installed, updated, uninstalled,
and settings are changed. Many important security
specific applications are also regularly and
automatically updated. Anyone for example who
users their computer to connect to the Internet
should have in place Anti-Virus, Firewall, and
Anti-Spyware programs that often update many
times a week.
significant reason why creating a disk image
of your drive is not an advisable routine
backup procedure is that any and all misconfigurations
of your system, dormant security threats, and
the vast amount of junk data that is created
and stored on your computer as you use it, will
also be copied. Much of this junk data cannot
be deleted as it is generated behind the scenes
in your system. This results in a decrease
in performance and speed, and can also lead
if you change your computer then it's very
possible that you won't
be able to restore
from a disk image as that disk image contains
all the drivers and settings for your previous
computers hardware, which is probably completely
different (e. g. different motherboard).
These issues, combined with the much longer,
costlier (more disks), and less convenient (more
time consuming) disk imaging process inevitably
means that for the average user, disk imaging
is carried out far less frequently than the kind
of backup that only copies your documents and
information (usually under the 'My Documents'
folder). Always remember that making regular
backups to a different location is the key to
an effective backup strategy.
People who use disk imaging often use file backup
programs as well. For example, they take a snapshot
of their hard disk using the disk imaging software,
e. g. every week, month, or at ad-hoc times,
but use the file backup program to make regular
backups of their important files, e. g. scheduled
every day or even hourly. When doing a restore
they first restore the disk image then restore
their files using the file backup program.
often should you make a backup of your files?
you work on your documents each day, you need
to backup at least once a day. If you accidentally
delete a file, or a program crashes while you're
working on a document, you need to be in a position
where you can click a button to recover
that file from your backup
copy, so you may well want to run the backup
program in the background. The more impressive
backup programs can also copy open and locked
can be made even when you're working on a document.
people benefit from backing up on a very
regular basis throughout the day. Writers for
example may be working on a draft and may
wish to review an earlier version of that draft
as they progress. This kind of incremental backup
is also possible depending on the backup software
you use so that you can effectively roll-back
to an earlier
version of your document.
should you backup onto?
are many different types of media that you
may choose to backup onto, and each has their
advantages and disadvantages. The first thing
you'll have to work out is what suits your
generally a good idea to choose media that
allows you to
backup all the data you wish to without having
to 'span' the backup. For example, you may
need many CDRs to back-up all your information.
The problem with this kind of backup is that
it requires your intervention to replace
the new media as each disk is required. A backup
that can automatically run without your intervention
will save you a great deal of time over the
long run. An external USB hard drive for
into a computer and provide an instant large
capacity space for your backups.
you're a personal computer user however,
the most immediate medium you're
probably going to consider is to backup
to CDR/W or DVDR/W,
however, these mediums are also less
time periods than you might realize. For pure
convenience there's nothing easier
than making relatively small capacity backups
to a USB memory stick that you can easily plug
If you're a business with existing backup procedures,
you may be using tape backup (which can
be sensitive to heat, magnetism etc), or you
may be implementing a removable hard disk procedure.
you choose make sure your chosen media is easy
to use, requires as least intervention as is
possible, and can
easily be scheduled.
you already have a backup routine it's prudent
to check it's doing what you expect, and if
necessary, to make adjustments to ensure it's
performing to your best advantage. Take care
to read through and understand the documentation
that comes with your backup program as there
may be specific customizations that you may
wish to make. For example, you may want to
configure your backup so that the program
verifies that files are copied correctly, and
that the backup makes safe copies by using
temporary file names before renaming the file
given the copy is successful.
backup programs assist you in the evaluation
of effective backup procedures by allowing
you to test any backup you do with a simulated
run. This allows you to check the backup routine
functions correctly without actually copying
very easy to have your important files backed
up without you having
to remember to make a backup. The backup can
be done automatically, every day, while you sleep.
It can be done while you're on holiday or out
of the office. Computers are designed to help
automate tasks, so let your computer and software
automate your backups.
late 2003 I began working on improving a freeware
program called SyncBack,
which was featured as a download at AbleStable
soon after it's initial release. During the
with Michael J. Leaver, neither
of us having any intention other than to produce
the best freeware backup program out there.
I was committed to the project as
a backup program would
deliver a free, robust and powerful backup
solution for all those creative individuals
a result of the incredible popularity of
SyncBack, Michael and I decided to work on
a commercial version that would require significant
additional investment, and we therefore formed
a more formal partnership to develop the program
2BrightSparks. The company
in Singapore during November 2005 as 2BrightSparks
Pte Ltd. with the addition of a third founder
well as backing up your data, SyncBack freeware can
also allow you to safely and easily synchronize
files between two different directories. Those
files could be on different drives, different
computers, different devices, or even over the
Internet via FTP.
You perform a backup when you want to keep a
second copy of your files. A backup doesn't change
your original files. If you accidentally delete
a file, or make changes you don't want, etc.
then you can restore the original file from the
synchronizing however, you are copying
files between two computers or storage mediums,
e.g. your hard disk and an external USB drive.
Perhaps you've a desktop computer and a notebook
computer and have copies of the same files on
both computers. You may be changing those files
either on your desktop or notebook depending
on the situation. With synchronization, files
are copied from one to the other based on when
they were last changed. Files may also be deleted,
e.g. you deleted a file on your notebook and
so want the same file on your desktop to also
additional functionality and outstanding customisation,
together with an
industry leading online Support Area and comprehensive
help file, sets SyncBack apart from the rest.
up your data is your one essential
task. If you haven't done so already, find
your requirements today. I've mentioned the
freeware program SyncBack because I've helped
develop it and know it's a great solution.
Whatever you do, whatever program you use,
backup each and every day from
on in, and don't be one of those many who at
this very moment are wishing they had....