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Backup Your Data: Protect Your Business

written by: MiAGon•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/5/2011

Home office users often overlook the critical aspect of backing up the data on their computer's hard drive, placing their trust on the reliability of their system. It isn't until their system crashes that reality sets in and problems arise. Here's a look at simple tools to ease the backup process.

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    Protecting Your Data

    Computers are technological marvels that have become an integral part of our lives at home and work. They are powerful and highly dependable, until one or more of the components that make up a typical system fails. While easy and affordable to repair, there is one critical component that can make or break the trust toward your computer: the hard drive.

    With the exception of newer solid state hard drives, which are slowly making their presence in computers due to high cost and limited storage, most computer hard drives are actual mechanical devices. Over time and with use, hard drives are prone to failure from a variety of factors that makes it impossible to estimate the unit's life expectancy. This is the reason why backing up your data is so important and critical, especially for a business.

    The Value Of Your Data

    How you use your computer is one determining factor to consider when placing a value on the data you store in it. If you use a computer for recreational purposes and do not store anything of importance on the drive, then backing up your data may not be considered an important task. But if you use it for more advanced personal uses such as managing your finances and storing important information about you or your family, you may want to consider some type of backup plan. Additionally, if your computer is used primarily for business, the process of backing up your data is not only crucial, but essential, and it should be performed frequently.

    It is important to remember that while there are data recovery services that are capable of retrieving data from damaged drives, there are two factors to consider: cost and guarantee. The price of data recovery from damaged drives is quite high, costing as much as a few thousand dollars. And there is no guarantee that everything will be intact, in fact, some of the data may not be recoverable.

    Backup Data Options

    Data from your computer can be backed up in a number of different ways with varying devices. You can even purchase portable external backup drives that include software designed exclusively to assist in the backup process. It is always wise to backup your data to a separate physical device other than the hard drive the data resides in, this way if your primary drive experiences a mechanical problem that renders it useless, you are still able to access the data in the separate device.

    While there are many available options, I tend to favor external drives because of their portability and access factors. But there are many other options available, too:

    • CD/DVD - If your computer has a CD or DVD drive with writing capabilities, you can take advantage of rewritable CD/DVD disks to store your important data. The process is further simplified with programs designed exclusively for this purpose, like:
    • USB Flash Drives - Also known as "Thumb Drives", "Jump Drives" and "USB Drives", these come in a variety of styles and storage capacities, making them the most portable of all options. As of the writing of this article, USB Flash Drives with capacities as large as 16 MB are easily attainable. Programs such as the ones listed above can also be used to back up your data to a USB flash drive.
    • External Portable Drives - These devices also come in a variety of styles, sizes and capacities from small 2.5" portable USB/Fire wire drives, to larger 3.5" drives with the same connectivity. Some are powered by the USB ports themselves, while others require external power. These types of drives are available in capacities reaching and exceeding 1 TB, making them the best choice for large amounts of data like images and videos.
    • NAS - Short for Network attached Storage, this type of device is an extension of the External Portable Drive in terms of capacity. Priced higher, because of its network interfacing capabilities, a NAS device is perfect for a networked environment where there is more than one user. Most of these devices also accommodate multiple drives, allowing for an increase in storage capacities.

    When it comes to your computer data, you can never be too careful about backing it up. So, don't wait.