I was talking to a friend the other day and she remarked that she had backed up her computer and it took six CDs. I always cringe when I hear people are using CDs to back up their data, there are much easier ways to do data backups than burning discs.
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Often when people tell me they are using CDs to do backups, that also means that they are backing up their data very sporadically, which can be a huge issue of the computer in question holds important data for a business or ever important personal files like family photos.
If you lose your hard drive or your computer crashes all of those digital photos chronicling the birth and life of your kids and family could be gone forever. If that happened what embarrassing images would you hold over your kids head when they are teens?
Data backups don’t have to be hard, and they don’t have to take a long time to do. The easiest way to perform a data backup is with an external hard drive. Users who are backing up small amounts of data can even use a flash drive for backups.
There are many different external hard drives on the market today that users can choose from. If your goal is to do data backups, I would go for a drive that includes software for choosing and automatically backing up the files you want. All backup software I have seen allows you to set exactly when your data is backed up and what days it runs. I recommend you run one single backup that is a full backup of all-important data on your computer.
Most backup software will then allow you to choose an incremental backup, which only backs up files that have changed. This will greatly reduce the time it takes to run a back up each time. Set the automated backup software to run early in the morning or late at night when you aren't using your computer. This will ensure you don’t notice any performance degradation on your computer.
How much storage capacity you need depends on what you are backing up. Typically, I tell people to buy the most capacity that you can afford. That 500GB drive may sound huge to you today, but a year down the road when it's full of data and out of capacity, you will be out looking for a new storage device.
Many storage devices today can be attached directly to your network allowing any computer on the network to store data and backup to the same drive. You can also share any USB hard drive directly attached to a computer over the network easily if your drive lacks network connectivity built-in.
My personal favorite backup device, and one I highly recommend, is the Drobo. The device comes with no hard drives inside, and costs much more than your typical external hard drive. What you get is an external enclosure that has four drive bays that are hot swappable and it uses RAID data protection. RAID insures that in the event of a drive failure in your backup device, your data is still safe. Drive failures happen more commonly than you think so this is a great feature. Another bonus is that you never have to replace the Drobo to get more capacity. You simply toss a higher capacity 3.5-inch HDD inside the enclosure and you are good to go.