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Computer Meltdowns – Backing Up Your Data

6 min read

If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that over the first few months of this year I had several technology failures: one of my laptops had a meltdown, two USBs bit the dust, and my BlackBerry went ‘sideways’ for a short time.

What saved my (Canadian) bacon was that in all cases I had backed up most of my data. This article is about the methods I use to back up, but also has additional suggestions as well.

Perhaps the simplest way to back up your valuable data is to copy it. I routinely copy data from my USB drives to the desktop or laptop’s hard drive. (No, I’m not saying computer’s hard drives do not fail. They do.) If you’re comfortable with using My Computer—Windows Explorer—it offers a very flexible way to perform folder and file management tasks. While I can’t detail the How To of it all in a blog post, I can tell you that the easiest way to start the process is to press the + e keys on your keyboard to quickly open Windows Explorer. To back up (copy) data from your USB, in Explorer, create a folder (perhaps you’ll call it USB_Backup) on your hard drive. Then drag & drop everything from the USB to the new folder on the hard drive.

Backing up the mainstream stuff—for example, your computer’s hard drive, takes a little more strategy and planning. The reason why has to do with the amount of information you’ll back up.

All versions of Windows have a built-in backup program. Perhaps you’ll use it to back up your data? For Windows Vista and Windows 7 users, just click the Start button and begin to type in the word “backup”. Windows will find Backup and Restore. Just click it to get started. Before you do, make sure you have some kind of backup media. By media, I mean a collection of CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, or perhaps even a portable or removable hard drive. Around here, we each use our own 500 GB HP Personal Media Drives; we back up from both the laptops and the desktop to these drives.

Some people don’t like Backup and Restore. Well, it’s not the only kid on the block. As well, more and more, people are turning to the Cloud to back up their data. What does that mean? The simple explanation is that your data is backed up online. Many of my friends and colleagues use Carbonite for their online back-up solution.

As for your smartphone (and even the new tablet PCs, like BlackBerry’s PlayBook), you can back them up too. Fortunately I’d done that for my Bold! For a BlackBerry, when using BlackBerry© Desktop Software, just make sure to hit the Back Up Now button periodically (the more the better). Or back up your phone through the Device menu. I’m sure the iPhone, and other smartphones and tablets, have their own methods to back up.

The importance of backing up can be measured by asking yourself one simple question: ‘How important is my data?’