Guide to PC Backup
We all know we’re supposed to back up our data. We could go so far as to say that a backup of digital data is essential to a person’s well-being and peace of mind. (One copy of a file on your computer does not a backup make. Redundancy, people, redundancy.)
Why do so many people still not bother to back up? Even after losing an important document, irreplaceable photo, or entire sets of financial records, some still don’t take the time. Perhaps it’s because backing up takes some effort. In the past, it’s been overly complicated. Now, thanks to new software, hardware, and services, it’s easier than ever. Here’s a quick look at the types of backup available, as well as the tools you’ll need to pull it off, with as little work as possible.
How you back up data may depend on the type of media you use as the destination site. Here are some options:
External Hard Drives
It doesn’t get much easier than this: Plug a big ol’ external storage drive into your PC via USB and get started. Of course, drives come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. A standard drive won’t cost much, but it won’t do anything but sit there and let you do all the work (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Almost all drives today use connectors like USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt to get incredibly high speeds.
Perhaps your biggest decision will be whether to go with faster but more expensive solid-state drives (SSD). Unlike hard disk drives, SSDs have no moving parts and that means fantastic performance—which is always a plus when you’ve got a lot of data to copy. For more, check out SSD vs. HDD: What’s the Difference?
Among what we consider the Best External Hard Drives, you’ll find the LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2 (40TB), CalDigit Tuff (2TB), and the Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive (4TB). All were picked for Editors’ Choice awards.
The old standby for backup is to copy your files to a shiny disc. The downsides remain capacity and speed.
CD-Recordables (CD-Rs) can only hold so much data (around 700MB, maximum)—that’s so small it’s going to feel like using a floppy disk. A DVD-R is much better at 4.7GB, but even 8.5GB dual-layer DVD-R discs won’t hold your entire music and photo collection. Dual-layer Blu-ray discs (BD-Rs) store up to 50GB and the prices fluctuate. Last year we found a 50-disc spindle for $25, but supplies must be down as these days they go for closer to $90. However, even at that capacity, backing up to discs will feel interminably slow compared with fast hard drives and flash drives. Who wants to take discs in and out all the time?
The upsides: Disk-based media is cheap (as long as it’s in stock). Discs are super portable, and it’s always a good idea to keep a backup of your data off-site, if possible. If a disaster takes out your computers and storage, it’s likely that your backups are gone as well. A disaster it won’t destory what’s not there. And a CD is about as easy as it gets to take with you. Well, next to…
USB Flash Drives
Small USB drives are almost as inexpensive as discs, even as their capacity increases. They have the advantage of being ultra-portable. Maybe too portable, since they’re easy to lose (and steal). But locking one multi-GB flash drive in a safe deposit box is easier than storing discs or hard drives. Some USB drives are even designed for protection from the elements, making them a safer destination for your data.
Of course, you need to get the largest capacity drive you can get—generally 512GB—to back up everything, especially if you’ll be imaging your drive. That can get expensive—Amazon sells some at that capacity with prices at $179 or higher—but might be worth it for the convenience.
Link to article: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2363057,00.asp