Can you remember when you last backed up the data on your computer or your server?
Most people reading this article will not have a quick answer because most people do not have an established backup plan in place. However, lack of a backup plan could turn into a real problem for you down the road. Think about what you might lose if you lost your computer in a fire or your hard drive suffered a catastrophic failure. You might lose family pictures and videos, important financial and tax information, music collections or worse. At my PC Techs we have heard and experienced many horror stories about individuals losing an entire lifetime of converted images, home videos, and financial documents. We have been contacted by business owners that have had to close their doors and stop all production because they experienced a server hard drives crash and had no reliable backup to restore it from.
If you’re scrambling to find out how to perform data backups, don’t worry. It can be very easy to produce and secure a reliable backup. First, you’ll need to purchase an external hard drive. External hard drives with USB or Firewire connections are available online, at local computer stores, and even in most large office supply stores. Western Digital and Seagate make reliable external drives to use for backup and come recommended for their reliability. If you’re uncertain as to what hard drive to purchase, it is a good idea to look at reviews and to find recommendations from others. A good resource for hardware reviews and to purchase external hard drives online is Newegg, http://www.newegg.com. Also, when you select a backup device, be sure to locate one that has enough space for all of the hard drives on your system.
Some external hard drives come bundled with backup software, but we caution you against using that software to perform a backup as most of these programs do not have an option for full partition or full disk backup. A full partition backup is critical when you need to recover from a system failure in a hurry. We recommend that you download and install a free* software tool called Easeus ToDo Backup. After installing Easeus, look for the backup option named full disk & partition backup & restore. Support and instructions on the use of Easeus Todo Backup can be found in the Support section of the site linked above. Perform a complete system backup of your entire computer, including all hard drives, to the external hard drive.
Once you’ve performed a full disk backup using Easeus, you should check that the job completed without error and confirm that you have a full and complete backup of your data. Some of those horror stories we talked about earlier were from people who presumed that everything was fine with their backup when in fact it was not. Errors and problems can occur with backup software just like anything else. Be sure to check your backups on a regular basis and ensure that they are complete. For additional data protection, consider purchasing a second external backup hard drive and using that to rotate backups. Store the second backup drive at a separate physical location from the first, to protect against theft or fire.
*Easus ToDo Backup is free for home use only. Small & medium business workstations and server versions require an additional payment.