Eight Steps to the (almost) Perfect backup plan

Back it up!

You've taken the time to store it on your desktop or laptop computer everything that matters to you, from financial to sentimental. But you're just one system error, one spilled latte, one stolen backpack away from losing it all. Yet this unthinkable scenario is so easy to prevent. You must know by now that computers can and do fail and you usually get no warning before it's too late. Backing up your data is no longer the chore that it once was. Here are some tips to help make it easier.

Get organized.

Put all the documents you create, the pictures you take, and the music you buy in a single master folder. Divide that master folder into sub folders to keep your files organized. Backing up your data becomes much easier if you only have one folder to back up. When all your personal files are in one place, you are less likely to forget a file when you back up. Organization is the secret!

Back up regularly

Get in the habit of backing up your files regularly. If you work on your computer daily, you should back up important files daily. Then, back up everything at least once a week. Better still, look for backup software that backs up your data automatically and instantly without manual or scheduled backups.

Be selective.

You don't have to back up your entire system. That's a time consuming task that only duplicates all the issues you've built up over time on your hard drive.

Save original copies of your software programs and reinstall your operating system and a clean copy of your software if your system crashes.

Back up what's important to you.
The most important things to protect are files you create yourself. Whether they are text documents, e-mail messages, pictures, music, videos, or game saves, if you made them, you want to save them and keep them nearby. It's also helpful to back up the configuration settings for any programs you use, along with critical Windows data such as the registry. And don't forget to make a duplicate copy of anything you have stored on external storage.

Use backup software.
Use backup software to automate your backup. You can make mistakes or omit something important if you back up manually. An easy-to-use backup program creates a backup of your data reliably and automatically, keeps logs, and notifies you in case of any problem. Most external hard drives come with backup software.

Where to backup?
You can back up to CDs or DVDs, but this is a slow, manual process. And contrary to popular belief, most CDs and DVDs are not permanent. Low-priced CDRs may not be readable at all in as little as two years.

The best backup medium is an external hard drive. High capacity external drives are very fast and allow you to keep all your backed up data in one place.

For extra safety, get a two-drive external storage system and dedicate half the capacity for mirroring to automatically and instantaneously back up your backup every time.

So which drive?

With so many choices from brand to size it can get confusing however as a rule of thumb I used the simplest way possible and figured that if my 100GB was getting full and I’ve had it for under a year then I’m going to need at least 500GB to future proof myself for at least 5 years at my current rate.

So once you have your size sorted you’ll want to pick a brand that you can trust, its your data after all and I didn’t want to run the risk of buying a drive from somebody I’d never heard of. My choice and one I’d advise anyone off is the LaCie range. I think they look great, are at a great price and work flawlessly.

LaCie changed the design of the HDD about 3 years ago when they made a 3.5” box pretty (Well as pretty as a 3.5” box can be) with the Porsche design units. They’ve now updated those and have brought in the famous designer Neil Poulton and have once again created something that you’d want in your home.

Since then I’ve found Western Digital and Seagate making massive improvements in the design and backup software. Western Digital especially should be applauded for their new range of drives although I do think all manufacturers need to look at how many products they have.

This post was contributed by eXpansys plc, the owner of the eXpansys brand, the largest wireless technology online retail business in Europe and the USA.