Wednesday

3 Truisms Of Computer Backups

Dear readers, for your own sanity I offer you 3 truisms of computer backups, in the hope of giving you a nudge towards actually having some sort of backup plan in place:

1 - Computers will break (not can or might - they eventually will).

2 - It makes sense to keep your backup in a physically separate location, in case of a disaster like a fire or flood.

3 - Most people don't bother with computer backups, so something automated is helpful - set it and forget it.

Any sort of backup is better than nothing - just copying your important files to a DVD or a USB drive every once in a while is helpful, but that doesn't satisfy #2 and #3.

A better answer these days may be one of the many "cloud" backup or sychronization services that will allow you to keep a remote copy of your digital "stuff", and also work behind the scenes to do so without intervention. For smaller amounts of data (less than, say, 5GB - which would hold several thousand mp3 song files), there are several free services


For larger amounts - if you have lots of higher resolution images or video files - the paid options are usually pretty inexpensive, all things considered - often less than the cost of a few blank DVDs a month, or one of those fancy coffee concoctions.

The slightly different concept of a pure backup versus a cloud synchronization service might seem odd at first;  both effectively back up your stuff to the cloud (the "cloud" is essentially a fancy marketing term for the concept of some storage or service that exists on the Internet). 

The synchronization services may be attractive as they can allow you access to the same files from different computers or other devices. They will all allow you to automatically copy files from certain folders on your computer "to the cloud" and keep them there - there's your backup. 

If you change a file in the selected folder or add a file, the changes are sent to the cloud - and the files are synchronized with another devices if desired. If you have the software installed on your PC and laptop, for example, you can access the same set of files from both devices. Dropbox would be an example of a backup/synchronization service.

With a pure backup service, such as Mozy, you tell the software which folders you want to backup, and it takes care of things after that. By default, the software will back up the most common areas, but you can also select to exclude or include any folders to like.

TechsupportAlert has a regularly updated guide to free cloud backup services here. The various services listed also offer paid versions with a lot more storage, and sometimes more features.

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