|Mr. Fixit's PC Upgrade and Repair
When was the last time you backed up your computer? Many people do not realize that backing up their computer can save them hundreds, if not thousands,
of dollars in the event their computer crashed or the hard drive fails. I mean, lets face it, nothing lasts forever. People store everything on the PC; Pictures,
emails, documents, videos, work, business, etc. But, what if this PC crashed right now, would you be able to recover and restore your PC? Computer backups
are worth every penny to protect you from computer crashes, hard drive failures, viruses, hardware damage (laptops), etc. I will show everything you need to
know to successfully back up your important data.
Which Backup Method to Use:
The data only backup will backup any data you created such as emails, documents, pics, videos, downloaded files, etc. It does not backup installed programs
or the Operating System. This method protects against computer theft, data loss due to a virus, data corruption, user error, etc. This method is fine for most
users. If your files become corrupted, unusable or deleted, you can retrieve a copy from the backup. The Data Only Backup is a good choice if you keep all of
your program discs with their activation keys. But, what if the hard drive fails?
The System Backup is the better choice because not only does it backup your files, it also backs up the entire Operating System, including your installed
programs. It is similar to System Restore in Windows, but more advanced. This method protects against OS crashes, virus attacks, hard drive failures, etc.
Restoring from a System Backup doesn't require you to re-install and activate any software. For example, lets say the hard drive failed and you had the drive
replaced. When the System is restored from a System Backup, the OS will appear up to the point the backup was created. If your computer is stolen or you
purchase a new computer the System Backup may not help. Some backup programs allow the user to pick and choose files to restore within the backup.
Check to see if your backup program permits this ability.
Choosing the right Storage Media:
As you can see, backing up your PC is very important. How you choose to back up your PC is up to you. Everyone has different situations or requirements
when it comes to backups. Storage media is your next decision for storing your backups. In the early days, some people used Tape Drives to back up their
data and others used floppy disks. Today, you have a wider choice of storage media to choose from. Floppy Disks fell out of favor due to their lack in storage
capacity but the Tape Drives are still in use today for storing backups and can be costly to implement. CDs, DVDs, Flash Drives, and External HDD are a
better choice for storing backups.
The CD-R/RWs were often used to store documents, music, pictures, etc., but are limited to 700MB per disc. So, if you have 1,000's of files to backup, the CD
may not be the best choice to store your backups. The DVD-R/RWs, on the other hand, may provide the capacity you need to store your backups. DVDs can
store up to 4.7GB on single layer discs and 8.5GB on dual layer discs (supported DVD drives only). If you happen to have a Blu-ray burner you can store up to
50GB per disc. Recordable discs can only be written to once and the ReWritables can be written then erased and rewritten up to 100 times. Although the
CD/DVDs seem to be a good choice, optical discs are prone to scratches and must be kept in a dust and scratch free cases.
Flash Drives stores data on memory modules that do not require a power source to maintain stored data. They are more compact, portable, less prone to dust
and scratches, but are sensitive to static discharges and have a limited life cycle. The life cycle refers to the number of times the memory can be written (a.k.a.
Write Cycles). Most can last up to 100,000 write cycles where as some of the more advanced flash memory can last up to 1 million cycles. Their capacity
range from 128MB to 256GB and are good for moving files from one PC to another PC. However, if you plan to regularly backup your computer, Flash drives
would not be cost effective.
External Hard Disk Drives are the best choice to store backups. These drives are the same as the one in your PC except these connect outside the computer.
They can connect using USB, Firewire, or eSATA connections and are plug and play. They cost less per Gigabyte than CD/DVDs and Flash Drives and can
store as much as 6 TerraBytes (TB) per unit, making them perfect for backing up your PC.
Creating a Backup Strategy:
Now that you have an idea which media to use to back up your data, you need to plan a strategy to maintain up to date backups. This is where your choice of
media can cost some money. You will need enough storage medias to maintain 3 sets of backups. This will allow you to rotate your backups, as I will explain
why. The 1st backup should always contain the original OS and Software the computer had when you bought it. This is good for 2 reasons; if the HDD fails,
the Backup can restore the OS on a new Drive or If you decide to give the PC to someone else the backup can restore the PC back to the original factory
condition. The other 2 sets will be used to maintain your up-to-date backups.
It is a good idea to keep 2 sets of backups. We will Call them Backup A and Backup B, and rotate between the 2 backup sets. For example, Backup set A will
backup on Sun, Tue, Thu, Sat, Mon, etc. and Backup set B will back up on the opposite days. In the event the computer crashes during the backup, you will
have the second set to restore your computer.