Why Should You Back Up Your Hard Drive? The Whys and Hows of Backing Up Computer Storage Systems

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Why should you back up your computer storage? The answer is simple. If your computer crashes, your discs get lost, or damaged, you will have all of your data right there and will be able to pick back up as if nothing happened to your system.

The best policy is to backup your drive at least once a month, though some people do daily, or weekly, backups. You should back everything up to a second internal hard drive, an external hard drive, flash drive, or with a CD or DVD.

Back up all of your discs and important information to other discs, or your hard drive. Keep any back up discs in cases in a safe location so you know that they will not get lost or damaged. The second you must rely on your back up discs, back them up again, and keep that set in a safe location.

To back up your hard drive, you have a few options:

  • Use the Windows XP feature. If you are using Windows XP Professional or Windows Vista, this feature is available in the Accessories menu. If you are using XP Home Edition, you can still take advantage of this feature, though you will have to go through some extra hoops to get it. Insert your Windows XP Disc. View the files and folders on the disc, and look for a folder called “valueadd.” Once you see this folder, look for Ntbackup.msi. Double click this file and follow the on-screen instructions to install the backup ultility.
  • Use another program, like Nero. Several different programs allow you to back up your entire hard drive, and how this is done will differ with each program. If you are interested in using one of these programs to back up your hard drive, you could try programs like: Active Disc Image, or Acronis True Image 11.
  • Burn CD’s or DVD’s. This is the long, painstaking way to do it, but if you do not have a spare hard drive and you want your information backed up off of your current hard drive in the event that it fails, it is better than having no backups at all. Using your preferred data burning program, choose all the files and folders that you know you cannot afford to lose, and burn as many discs as it takes.

Take a second to copy all of your driver discs, or create your own by visiting the manufacturer’s web sites and downloading them to your computer and burning them to your discs along with other files. If you want to save yourself some time later, you can also visit sites that have the free software you use for IM, file sharing, etc. and download those installation files too. That way, you do not have to visit them later to download and install them later, because you’ll be able to pop in the disc and run the installation from there.

You may also consider online back up with a service like IDrive, for $4.95/month. Online backup may be the most convenient way to handle it, though the security of your information may be less than if you are in complete control.

If you need more assistance, check out my other article, How to Back up Your Hard Drive. This will offer advice on choosing which files to back up and running virus and malware scans to prevent infections from being stored in your backups.