Has your computer hard-disk ever crashed? Or has your laptop been stolen? Or is your email account ever been hacked? Or I am sure OS in your PC is crashed at least once! Unfortunately only a person who has experienced loss of valuable data can understand the importance of backup and safety of data.
I have mentioned only most common ways, but there are many ways by which you can lose your data. It is often very hard, costly and uncertain to recover lost data. Backup is like insurance. Backup is a small investment which saves your life in tough times. Here are some simple tips to save, protect, backup your data manually:
Make a list of things you need to backup. A few examples-
1. In your computer: Personal documents, downloads, work files/projects, software/applications, pictures, music, movies, etc.
2. Internet: Emails.
3. Your website: Uploaded files, MySQL/SQL Server database.
4. Phone: Contacts, files, downloaded apps.
5. Photos and videos from your camera.
And don’t be lazy! Schedule date and time to regularly take backup of your data. Set a reminder on your computer or phone.
1. Backup On Portable External Hard Drive:
Copying your data to external hard disk is the most popular and effective way to back up your data. It’s the most flexible, easiest, fastest and most cost-effective way to backup your data. One thing I must remind you that you should purchase the hard drive only from one of the most reliable brands available. And the thing you must be careful is save the drive from falling down and physically damaging. You must also keep the drive at safe place to protect it against being stolen or lost. Avoid using the backup drive for regular use with your computer or any other purpose. This will protect it against viruses and physical damage done due to various reasons like power failure. Keep enough numbers of partitions in the drive, and store data in different partitions.
2. Backup to Your Another Computer:
If you are using two or multiple computers, it is helpful and safe to keep your data in both the computers. To copy data between two computers, you can use WiFi, LAN cable or external hard drive.
3. Online Backup or Cloud Service:
Another popular and efficient way to backup data is cloud services where you can store your data online. Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, iDrive, Box, etc. are among the top and most popular cloud service providers. The limitations of a cloud service is the security of a service, storage limitations, file syncing and missing files.
4. Optical Disks:
Optical disks like CD, DVD or Blue Ray disks (1st, 2nd and 3rd generation respectively) are cheap and easy way to make copies of important files. There are certain limits with this option. Burning disks is a time-consuming process and tiring when you have to backup large number of data. Moreover disks can get damaged over time and usage, and become unreadable. Don’t rely on this method, and choose it as a temporary and handy option.
5. USB Flash Drives:
Flash drives are great for portability of data, and safely saves your data from hard drive failure, OS crash or virus infection. But if you have tons of data to backup, this option proves to be costly and unpractical. Also you need to protect it from being stolen or lost.
6. Use Your Email to Backup Data:
As a handy and useful option, you can attach your important files to email and keep it as online backup. This is a very easy backup option for files which are important and frequently changing- for example the project you are working on. This way of backup provides you safety from all physical risks. Of course this option is not very useful if you want to backup too large files. You can also use email to keep safe confidential and important data. It becomes important to keep your email account safe. I will list tips later.
7. Consider Backup of Backup For Best Safety:
If your data is too important for you and your life depends on it, I would recommend you dual backup for best safety. This means you can choose either-
1) Two or multiple ways to backup data: For example, use external hard drive to backup your data, as well as upload it to cloud services.
2) Two or more destinations for one way: For example backup your data in two or more external hard drives and safely keep each drive to different places.
1. Online Accounts and Password Safety:
You must be careful about your email, online banking or any other online account from being hacked. Keep strong passwords that nobody can guess. Never use same passwords for different accounts! Use different passwords for online registrations on various websites. For better safety, keep changing password on regular basis. To avoid forgetting your password, you can also keep a list of passwords and confidential information in a note (physical or digital) and store it safely.
Avoid logging in to your accounts on unknown or other’s devices for more safety.
2. Virus Protection:
Protecting your data from virus is also very important. Always turn on virus protection in your computer, and keep it updated with latest virus definitions- specially when you are using for internet and email usage. Do not copy files from unknown devices or drives.
3. When Operating System Crashes:
Either you can use recovery option or you have to format the drive partition on which OS was installed and re-install the OS. For maximum protection of your data, never copy/keep important files on drive partition on which OS is installed. Do not keep files on locations like desktop, default “documents” folder which are originally located in the ‘OS partition’ of hard drive.
I also recommend to move location of user folders like Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Videos from Windows drive (C:\) to another drive. Read our detailed article on how to do this easily.
What You Should Copy Before Formatting OS
For any reason, you are going to format and re-install the OS and if, fortunately, your have access to the OS and files, you must first consider copying following data to secondary partition or external drive:
1. Files from Desktop, Documents and Downloads folder, if they are stored on C:\ (Windows) drive
2. Outlook email files and contacts.
3. Applications or games for which you do not have setup/installers.
4. Export bookmarks stored on internet browsers like Chrome or Firefox to a file.
5. IM (instant message) conversations from chat applications like Gtalk or Skype, if required.
6. Updated, latest Antivirus definitions, if possible. Take a time to find out how you can do that for the Antivirus software you have.
Also you must spend some minutes to look in the OS partition for unknowingly copied files.
Clone Your Hard Drive/OS:
If you are using Windows 7 or later, it provides options to clone your entire hard drive/partition which will save your lot of time from re-installing the OS and all software. You can choose to save a snapshot of drive partition in another drive or external hard drive, and restore your computer to original state easily, in a few minutes whenever needed.
How to Protect Outlook Emails:
To protect emails in Microsoft Outlook against OS crash, change the email storage to secondary drive partition instead of OS partition.
4. Physical Safety:
Be careful for your laptop or PC form being stolen or lost. You may lose your confidential data, email accounts and everything for such carelessness. If such cases happen, immediately start changing passwords for your accounts.
It is very easy to get your portable devices like mobile phone stolen. Never store confidential information in such devices.
Keep hardware and software of your computer up-to-date. Replace old hardware or computer with new one if needed. Do not power off your computer when disk or processor is active. Keep safe from power problems and power failures. Provide enough cooling to the hardware.
5. Advanced Recovery:
What if you lose data anyway? If you have accidentally deleted files from your computer, there are recovery tools available (like this one) using which you can recover deleted data form the hard disk. This might help you to recover small sized files, it is hard to recover large files. If your hard disk is crashed or failed, this article will guide you to try to recover your data. But there is no guarantee! Prevention is better than cure. Backup is best!
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