Back up solutions
When you know that you should backup your computer, it doesn’t mean that you know how to go about it.
There are three basic types of backup systems:
1. You can make copies of your data on DVD or CDs and store them either onsite or offsite. You could choose to select certain items to put copies in a safe deposit box or in a fire safe. This may not a practical solution for storing all of your daily computing files, but for taxes, other financial papers or irreplaceable documents or photos it is an incredibly secure method. One thing to keep in mind is that recording media evolves and be sure that the method you use to save your information on is still readable. For example, storage on a large floppy disk should be updated to some newer medium such as DVDs.
2. You can use a web-based service. Some of these have scheduled backup times set by you when you subscribe to the service, others provide constant copies which do not require you to set up a schedule and backup files that you are currently working on, so that if you need to restore from backup, it is completely up to date. These services run from very low cost for storage of up to 2 GBs but charge higher rates as the amount of storage you require increases. The convenience of an on-line or web backup service is that even if your hardware fails you can access your information from another computer as long as you have Internet service. If you need to evacuate from a hurricane or other natural disaster, you don’t need to grab anything, your information will be waiting for you. All of the major backup services encrypt your data so that only you can read it. But be sure to do your homework and make sure that 1) there is the highest level of encryption on your data; and much harder to determine 2) the company is financially viable.
3. An external hard drive. These can be anything from a simple flash memory stick that you connect via your USB connection or a large RAID drive that holds hundreds of GBs and has 2 (or more) drives so that if one fails the other holds the same information. An external hard drive can be grabbed and taken with you if natural disaster strikes or it can be connected to another computer and used to restore from backup onto another computer.
One high-end solution that we have had the opportunity to test drive is the NewerTech 500GB Guardian MAXimus www.newertech.com It was easy to use for such a powerful RAID solution. We would recommend it for home business or for someone with an extensive photo or video collection.
We would suggest that you do a quick inventory of the type of information stored on your computer. Think of what you would do if you lost any of it. The more devastating the loss would be, the more secure you would want to be in backing it up. For example, if you run a business from your home computer, you would most likely want to look at some of the higher end products. But first and foremost do whatever you can set in motion while you decide on a longer term solution.