As computational power grows exponentially and technology evolves from one generation to the next, we are increasingly using PCs to save daily records of our activities in the form of images, videos, personal diaries, notes, work files and of course email and chat correspondences. If all these are saved and arranged chronologically, it could be compared with Facebook’s timeline! Twenty or thirty years from now, one might think about going back to his or her old data drive and see how the events occurred. There would be nothing better than cherishing some good old memories on a safe and secure backup storage device.
The radical shift in man-machine relationship today has made the safety and permanence of stored data of chief importance than ever before. To be able to come back in time to see what events occurred today in a person’s life, from a future point of reference, the two most important things one should do are – record today’s events with a date stamp and ensure they are permanently stored somewhere . Therefore, let’s explore some of the best ways to backup data of your computer.
There are three main categories of options available, namely:
- Windows System Restore and Backup
- Online computer backup
- Backup software
#1. Windows System Restore and Backup
System Restore is pretty efficient at its job especially if you remember that it’s free and already integrated in the system with your Windows installation.
Making a backup:
1. This utility can be accessed by opening Control Panel, selecting ‘Category View’ from top-right corner of Control Panel and clicking the link ‘Backup and Restore’ under the ‘System and Security’ category. Click on ‘set up backup’ link in the screen shown below:
2. Then choose the destination drive for backup files in the next window. Ideally backup should be stored on external HDD or less than ideally, on a non-Windows partition.
3. After clicking next you will have to choose between manually selecting files to be backed up or let the Windows choose automatically.
4. If you go with ‘let me choose’ option, you will then be provided with a list of folders to choose from, you can easily check the ones you want to backup as shown in the figure below. Also check the box against ‘Include system image of drives’.
5. You will be asked details of files to be backed up and will also be provided with scheduling future backup option.
6. On the next window backup process will start.
8. Once the backup process is complete, you can view the backed up data in the drive you chose in Step 1. You’ll be able to see two folders when backup is complete; one containing your data files and other containing system image as shown in the figure below. The icon appearing as a disk drive icon (highlighted) will be used to restore the backup when you would need to do that.
Restoring the backup:
So when and how does the backed up data come in handy. If your Windows crashes then all you have to do is to open the disk drive icon as created above and choose the option ‘Restore my files for this computer’. It will open a window where you can pick the files to be restored and will also allow you to choose the restore location. You will have all your data back like you never lost it.
Tips on working with windows system restore and backup
- Always use an external storage device for saving backup files: Backup files are most secure when they are kept in a place which is not vulnerable Windows malfunction or physical damage. Backup files are usually quite large, around 10GB, so DVD won’t work as an external storage here, and best option is External HDD. Second best option will be to save on a partition in your computer which doesn’t have OS installed on it.
- Schedule making backups: Remember to schedule automatic backups so that even if you forget to do it during your packed up routine, they aren’t missed.
- Make System Repair Disk: This disk can be made using Windows System Restore, as mentioned above. This disk will have all the essential Windows components, programs, user files, settings that were present at the time it was made. It is an easy way to reinstall Windows along with all your files in case of an OS crash.
- Make System Images: These are made while making backup files; they are utilized to restore Windows to previous settings, especially comes in handy when newly installed software starts messing with other processes. The option to use System Images for restoration can be accessed by clicking on “Recover System Files or your computer”, in the window from step 1 and then choosing Advanced Recovery Methods.
- Backup Storage Options: Computer backup storage is big business now days, after all, we must save our precious data somewhere.
Now it is time to mention some third party programs to backup files, let’s review what’s available on that turf!
#2. Online Computer Backup
Online backup programs are the new hit-thing in the market and understandably so. First of all high-speed broadband internet is becoming ever more easily available by day and then the ease and reliability of having your data stored off-site is definitely very enticing. The online backup programs are not free, they usually charge around $50-$60/year with unlimited storage space for one system, others allow backup from multiple sites and may charge differently for space:
- SOS online Backup:
A tried and tested service on the market for many years now, newer version also includes a program for on-site backup. Allows multiple-PC backup and unlimited storage but that varies with packages.
Need Internet Backup?
- Live Drive
Livedrive is one of the top players in the online file storage world and offers excellent quality of service when it comes to backing up your computer.
Livedrive offer unlimited online storage. Click here to sign up for a 30 day free trial – no credit card details required!
- Mozyhome 2.0
A quite popular service, has recently added an on-site program and has a free online storage offer.
- Other programs like Norton Online backup and Nero’s Backit up & Burn are all great.
#3. Backup Software
These are local programs that can be installed with ease on your system and be used just as the windows restore utility with some added features in some.
- Acronis true Image
This is highly rated on-site backup software, very efficient and professional. On the downside it’s not free; its interface is not user-friendly and at times quite complicated.
- Backup Maker and GenieTimeline Free edition are two of the free backup software available.
So now you know a number of options for backing up your system and data files. You will just need to figure out which approach suits you the most. Then you can say goodbye to ever losing a file again!