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Backing up your stuff

So it's that time of year again, and you're preparing to get rid of some of the clutter on your computer. But before you go deleting all those things you think you don't need, perhaps you should invest some time in installing precautions in case you're wrong. Because we're all fallible, we all make mistakes, that's what being human is about. With that in mind I'm going to talk about backing up. In the last article I mentioned how your hard drive is fallible and will most likely die within the first 6 years of use. Here's some other reasons why you should consider backing up:

Now, backing up isn't that complicated. It's about making copies, frequently. Some people back up fortnightly, some weekly, some daily, but most not at all. But where you back up to is as important as how often you do it. It's like sales: location, location, location. The best location for backing up data is, in my view, an external hard drive; they're cheap nowadays, a 1 terabyte drive costing around $80. Backing up online is also good, but it's nowhere near as fast or convenient to save and restore data from 'the cloud' as it is to do so to a drive; at least in NZ with our lower internet speeds.

A USB stick (flash drive) can be fine to back up to also, if the amount of data you have is small. But it's not okay to back up data to another location inside your computer. You are not protected from any of the problems mentioned above if you do so. Similarly it's not okay to leave the backup drive plugged into the computer at all times; this has much the same effect. You should remember to disconnect the drive (click the "Safely remove hardware and eject media" icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen in windows, or drag the drive to the trash on a mac) and unplug it from the computer once you've finished backing up.

Lastly, what software should you use to back your stuff up? Windows' own built-in backup is pretty good nowadays; you can follow the windows prompts for setting up a backup, or use Time Machine if you're on a Mac. If you want to back up to the cloud, there are plenty of solutions such as Google Drive, Onedrive and Dropbox. Microsoft's "Synctoy" is a program I often use, as it allows clients to run their own backups manually. But ultimately it doesn't matter what you use, so long as your important data is always in more than one place at once.

- Matt Bentley, computer expert at Bentley Home PC Support.
Email info@homepcsupport.co.nz or phone 0211348576.

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