It’s a lot Easier (and cheaper) Than You Think
As an IT professional, one of the first questions I ask when given a computer to fix is, “do you have a recent back up of your computer?” It’s disturbing how often the answer is “no.” The reason I ask is because sometimes the only way to fix a computer is to wipe it and start over. However, what makes it disturbing is just how easy and cheap it is back up your computer regularly… especially compared to how difficult and expensive it is to recover data from a broken system. Back in the day, trying to keep a copy of your data was complicated, and hard drive space was expensive. Nowadays, modern computers (Mac and PC) have everything built in so you can do it with a single click. Not to mention that hard drives are so cheap you can usually pick one up at Walmart for under $75 that will do the job.
To back up your computer, you’re going to need an external hard drive. The initial backup may take a little while, but after that it will only take a few minutes to back up any changes that have happened since the last time. So if you can plug in your external hard drive as often as you would like and it will take care of everything else. Just don’t let it go more than a week or so because you risk losing anything modified or created since your last back up.
Backing up from a Windows PC
In Windows, the system that automatically backs up your computer is called “File History.” When you plug in an external hard drive to your Windows PC, you should get an Auto-Play popup window asking you what you want to do. Select the option that says “Configure this drive for backup.” If this doesn’t work, or if your computer doesn’t show this option, just hit the Windows key or click the start button and type “File History” and select File History Settings. Then turn on File History and select your external hard drive, and your PC will take care of the rest.
Backing up from a Mac
In Mac OS X, the system that automatically backs up your data is called “Time Machine.” When you connect an external hard drive to a Mac running OS X, it should pop up and ask you if you would like to use that hard drive for Time Machine backups. Click “Use as Backup Disk” and let the Mac do the rest. In the top right of your screen is a little Time Machine icon that you can click on to access all your data on your Time Machine. You can even use that Time Machine to get up and running on a brand new Mac with all your applications and documents just like you had them on your previous machine.
One last piece of advice about setting yourself up to not lose data: Whatever project I’m currently working on, I almost invariably save it to one of my cloud storage services (OneDrive, iCloud or Dropbox). When I’m done with the project, I’ll archive it elsewhere on my computer to free up limited cloud space. But by doing this, if anything bad were to happen to my computer while I’m working, I don’t even have to restore from a backup. I have a current version stored in the cloud, and can continue working on it instantly on any other device I choose to connect to my cloud service. It’s just a safety net, but it’s saved my bacon a few times.
So as you can see, backing up your computer is simple, painless and relatively inexpensive. All you have to do is plug in an external hard drive, and let the computer do its thing. On the other hand, if your hard drive goes bad (and they do!) and you don’t have a copy of your data, it can cost several thousand dollars for a dust-free lab to disassemble your hard drive and try to recover as much as possible. They often have varying results. One other note; when you get an external hard drive for backups, don’t use for anything else. It’s a bad idea to save other files to it, just let it be your backup and nothing else.
In this day and age, if you lose your data because you didn’t have a current back up, you really have nobody to blame but yourself. Businesses usually need a more robust system for backing up devices that doesn’t rely on the individual users remembering to plug in their external hard drives. This is where Bit-Wizards excels. If you don’t have the time and effort available to do these kinds of backups, we can help you get set up so you don’t have to worry about losing your data!