I'm sure everyone understands the need for mandatory DATA backups. Either online service or attached external Hard Disk (which I like the best). Like some teenagers say, "if one isn't protected, it will happen to you". LOL!!!!
Today, I bought an external 2.5" 500 GB HD for my home based computers. It was $79.99 + taxes. For $90, I got an external "portable" USB 2.0 for my office Desktop computer, for my portable Laptop computer and if needed, for a 2nd DATA backup - for our new iMac computer. Within the attached external HD, I simply create a folder for each individual computer. While attached to computer's USB 2.0 port, I then manually drag the computer's DATA folder (or specific files) to the attached HD's appropriate folder, and simply select "copy". I will do this manual task every month. Clean, simple and very low cost. Or, I could install the provided Western Digital HD software and configure it for automatic file backups. Thus, allowing a more "configure & leave it" Backup process. On average, I'm thinking $30 / machine for 4 years (assuming my new Western Digital 2.5" external drive will last 4+ years). For me, data backup is mandatory. Especially since my personal data (of years of family pictures, financial files, etc.) is priceless.
If unable to afford an external backup drive for your own computer system, perhaps some of the Santa members within your family tree might want to give you a nice gift this Christmas in a few short months? Hint - hint.
Hi Spike, I subscribe to Iron Mountain online backup but I have to tell you when I had to make the subset for backup I had no idea what files to backup so I just put everything down and now it takes up to 2 days to back it up; which is a major drag. Of course, then I get a bunch of messages of what it couldn't back up because they were sys files or other things that you can't back up. Makes me angry...now I need a service to make the backup subset....OY
Knowing what exact data files and their locations to backup can be a pain. Especialy if you are a usual "home user" type person (like my wife). RE: Just want a simple "Point, Click and mouse and it works". No other "fussing around" tasks.
On my new iMac, I created a folder off its root drive called DATA. Within this DATA folder, I store my email box, I store my Word documents, presentations documents, music files, etc. etc. ALL my data files are within this special folder (off its root drive). For "data" file backups, I simply backup (copy) is DATA folder and all its downward folders & files.
With my local attached USB drive, I simply create a folder called \iMac and copy all iMac file's to it. I then move this portable USB drive to my HP Computer. On the portable backup drive, I create a folder call HP. And, copy all my Windows HP files into this HP folder (on the portable drive). Thus, having near image of each machine in a different folder. With a local USB attached drive, I have much more control on what and where to backup up.
As a suggestion, create a \DATA folder off your computer's root drive. For example, C: drive. Copy (duplicate copy or MOVE) all your data files into this special folder. Then, configure your online backup service to copy ALL files from your computer's special \DATA folder. This approach might work for you as well...
Due to my family's recent HP Laptop crash and selling prices of external Hard Drives going lower and lower, I just got the approval to purchase an exteranl 1 TB Hard drive. And, I get to purchase a USB 3.0 (which can be used on USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports) version. This external portable "My Passport" HDD will be used to backup data files on my home office computer, and our HP Laptop. Our current portable USB 2.0 500 GB HDD will be used on my disabled son's Media Player device - to play his DVD to .AVI converted movies. Thus, his original DVDs will used as "on the shelf" MASTERs (& backups). And, I get twice the Backup Storage capacity for computer DATA files (for backups as well) for my computer needs. Win - win in both needed areas.
Reminder to all.... The selling prices of external self powered 2.5" HDDs (like Western Digital - My Passport slim drives) are getting lower and low selling prices. They can be used for "affordable" backup systems (for your computer systems) as well.
IMO for "general usage" Desktop or Portables.... Many portable drives now come with their own optional backup software. For example, ClickFree drives, Seagate FreeAgent drives, Western Digital drives, etc. etc. And, even Windows 7 comes within its own included "data files" backup feature. Many different ways to "backup" DATA files. And unfortunately, each method has its own pros / cons as well. Pros is that once their file type and internal (schedule) is set, backups are often done in the background. For example, leave computer on at night its does a DATA backup at 3:00 AM. After the program's initial configuring / customizaton, its very simple and easy for backups. The cons is that if a special software (or Windows 7) is used to backup the data, the same software must be used to restore data. For example, If Western Digital was used to backup data files, then Western Digital software must be used to restore it. But, what if you don't have that specific software on your other computer (where you want to restore files to)? What if Western Digitial upgrades their backup software and you need an older DATA file from older version of Western Digital software? Remember that backups containing critical financial info (like Income Tax documents) must be kept for 7 years. Software is often upgraded every 3 years. Sometimes, software is upgraded every year. Thus, putting your backup data in an situation where it cannot be restored. Or, restoring is too complex or too costly (because a computer expert must now restore it for you).
For me (and my "old school ways"), I like putting ALL MY Data files in a main DATA Folder (off the computer's root drive). For example: C:\Data\ folder. Within that folder, I then create approriate sub folders. For example: C:\DATA\MS Live Mail\ folder or C:\DATA\Moms files\ folder or C:\Data\Dads files\ folder, etc. etc. After manually creating the folders, I update the application's details settings to point to a specific DATA sub folder. When completed, ALL data files (like word, movies, mail, etc. etc.) are by default, saved within the target DATA Folder. Within my attached portable HHD, I then create a main folder with a Date stamp. For example: G:\Backup-20110314\ folder. Every other week (or so), I then "manually copy" (via mouse drag and copy task) my computer's C:\DATA\ folder and all its sub folders to my attached Hard Drive's Backup folder. And in 2 weeks, I do the same manual copy again - using a new G:\Backup-20110328\ folder.
When I want to restore a specific DATA file, I attach the external portable HDD (re: G: drive on my system), pick a specific backup date (for example, Backup-20110328 or Backup-20110314 folder) on this HDD, then manually copy that specific file. Or, copy the entire Data sub folder back to my main computer.. Sounds like lots of "manual tasks" but if ALL User Data files are saved into a common C:\DATA\ master folder, drag and drop using mouse buttons is easy. Very easy - using drive icon shortcuts on the desktop as well. And best part of all, I can take my backup portable HDD drive and attach it to any Windows xx system - regardless if Win XP, Vista or Win 7. If it can accept a USB 2.0 plug-in, then I can very easily copy the previously stored "native format" file. And, I don't need special backup software (like Western Digitial restore software) either. Simply manually copy to the external HDD and if needed, manually copy the "native format" saved data back to any Windows xx internal drive.
The above works for me based on my rating of pros / cons and computer skills. For others, they may want the very "easy way" of the Click Free or Western Digital automatic backup software. Or, they may like the native Windows 7 Data Backup feature instead. What ever works best for them...
Off-site backups are a very good option. If you have your data backed up on a USB drive and a disaster strikes your location and destroys it, all your efforts are in vain! Well perhaps that's too much devil's advocate but I use Carbonite online backup (and I'm sure there are others just as good.) It's $59 year. I have over 300GB of photos as well as other data so their included unlimited data was a bonus. The initial backup took a long time but now it backs up only changed files in the background. I had to restore once, and while it was a lengthy process to get it all back, I was able to get back what I needed for immediate use fairly quickly. PS. I use a USB drive too!