Saturday

Backups: Expensive, Difficult - Or Easy As Pie

You hear the term "backups" quite a bit in the world of computing, and companies spend spend a LOT of time, money and effort in making and maintaining backups; and yet, I have run into hardly any "regular" computer users who have any kind of backup of...well, anything.

While backups can be complex and technically challenging in the corporate setting, for home users it can and should be pretty straightforward.

What is a backup? Simply a redundant copy of data (documents, music, photos) that you have on your computer or laptop. 

Why backup? Computers break, or get infected and have to be reloaded or replaced. Crap happens.


If you re-install Windows, it's just Windows - none of your "stuff" is there. That needs to be copied back (restored) from a backup - that you likely don't have...

I have a more detailed version of this here, this is a condensed, to-the-point version.

I would say that probably the easiest, most automated and least intrusive way for most of us to consistently backup data and have copies available is to use some kind of Cloud service like DropBox, OneDrive, Box, PCloud, or similar.

These sorts of services allow you to set up a folder (or folders) on your computer to be automatically copied to a cloud location as you work. You might (for example) set up your "MyDocuments" to be handled in such a way. 

If you save, create or edit anything in that folder, it gets copied to the same location on your Cloud service. You don't have to do anything else.

If your computer gets reloaded on replaced, you copy your stuff back from the cloud - sure it may take several hours to copy back if you have a lot of data, but what else would you do without a backup?

What do I personally  do?

I have two computers that need to be backed up; our home PC and my laptop. Both are set up as described above, and I actually use different Cloud services for each; a free version of "Box" for the home PC since it only has a small amount of data (1GB or so) and a paid version of PCloud for my laptop (I have more stuff associated with the laptop, and I store other things on there too).

I also occasionally make a backup of each machine to DVD(s), just because. Mrs. Oldgoat, who is the primary PC user, neither knows nor cares that it is backed up "on the fly", nor does she have to bother about it.

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