Last month, we discussed computer security.
This month’s subject is backup. We’ve covered it before, but computer backing up is ALWAYS important.
As Always, Happy Computing!
— Tom Grundig
How important is your data?
There is always a possibility of losing important files. Hardware can fail, files can be accidentally deleted or otherwise lost. The only sure way to entirely prevent the permanent loss of files is to have some sort of backup. Typically, backups are either stored on a specific hard drive on site, or are uploaded to the cloud.
Online or local backup?
The main deciding factor between cloud and on site backups is in the time it takes to recover the data. If something happens to your files and you need to restore an image-based backup from the cloud, the service provider may ship a hard drive to your location that already contains all the backup data, which can take a few days to arrive. With an image based backup on a hard drive on site, there is zero delay between the computer losing data and when you can start the restoring process.
Given these limitations, if you want to backup specific files it’s generally simpler to upload the backups to the cloud. To backup all the data on a machine, an external hard drive is usually the best option.
When setting up your backup software, you’ll have to pick a type of backup, and when it should run. The first decision will be to backup specific files, all data on the machine, or an image of the hard drive. This may depend on how much space for backup is available, and whether the programs and settings on the machine are important to preserve.
Choosing specific files to backup takes the least space, while backing up all the files takes about as much space as an image of the data. Specific file backups are easy to look through to find particular files that need to be restored. Full backups are more difficult to manage, take much more space, and probably back up files you don’t need. Image backups are great when a machine completely breaks, because the image can be transferred to a new hard drive. This way all the functionality and data will be just as it was before the incident.
Full or incremental?
Next you’ll decide if you want your software to backup the changes that occurred between full backups. A full backup requires ample time and slows down the computer, so typically full backup happens once a week, and differential or incremental backup is done daily. This allows you to save space and have more options for restoring to specific points in time. Differential or incremental backups can be applied to the restoring process and function exactly as if was a full backup.
When to backup data?
The time at which these backups are done depends on your work habits. If you generally leave your computer on overnight, the best time for backups is when you go to bed. If you turn off your computer when it’s not in use, pick a time you’ll be doing less intensive computer work and can tolerate slowing down a bit. The worst thing that could happen is your system crashing, unable to restore to the proper point because your backups are old.