1) Plan your backup
The first step is to determine what needs to be backed up. How and what to backup are personal decisions based on how you use your computer. The following are some examples.
- Basic system: Data only
Do you use your computer for personal use with its
original factory configuration and perhaps an additional
program or two? Consider a Data Only Backup Solution.
Frequency of Backups would depend on how often information
is added or changed. The more often you add or change
files, the more often you should back them up. For
programs like Outlook and Quicken, where it's not obvious
where their data are kept; their help files usually
describe how to back them up.
- Complex system: Hard drive imaging plus separate
data backup Do you have a large number of programs
installed and/or complex configurations that would
take many hours to recreate? Would you or your business
suffer if you had to take the time to set everything
up from scratch? Consider a disk imaging solution.
A disk image, created with a program such as Symantec's
Ghost, is an exact copy of an entire hard drive. Create
a new disk image every time a major system change is
made. Then Backup your data as needed.
- Business system: Automated, complete system
backup Does your computer contain real-time business
data that changes frequently? Consider an automated
software backup solution and redundant hardware systems.
Implement a backup media rotation system and rotate
a set off site. Super critical systems warrant complete
backup computers and even entire off-premise facilities,
Things to consider
Try to implement the simplest plan possible, which
will still accomplish your goals. The less effort it
takes to back up your computer, the more likely you
will have a current backup when you need it. For example:
configure your applications so they keep their data
in a central location. By doing this, a backup can
be accomplished by simply copying that one folder to
a blank CD.
The programs and operating system on your computer
are interconnected. A portion (Just the OS or a single
Application) will not function apart from the whole.
Data files on the other hand, are portable. Backup
(and restore) either the entire computer or just the
data; anything else won't work. In addition, operating systems are unique to the machine on which they were installed. If you restore an OS onto a different computer, it most likely will not work. There are ways around this problem, but they are difficult to implement. If you are dealing with irreparable or stolen hardware, your most straightforward option is to install your programs onto a replacement computer and restore only data.
Even if you choose a complete disk backup solution,
not all the files need to be backed up. Some commercial
music or video files are encoded so they will only
work on the unit where they were originally downloaded.
Whether they can be used on a different or recovered
system depends on the Digital Rights Management (DRM)
scheme used. Also, things like the Internet Cache and
temporary files folders have no value. Backing them
up will only waste your time and space on your backup
2) Determine if backup software is necessary
most basic backups, simply copying the files to external
media is adequate. For more complex situations, backup
software can provide added flexibility. Backup software
allows you to specify what parts of your computer you
wish to include and exclude from the backup. They allow
you to make Incremental or Differential backups, where
only the files that have changed since the last backup
session are copied, speeding the backup process. Most
programs also have a timer, which can perform the backup
after office hours. If the selected media cannot contain
the entire archive, most programs allow backups to
span multiple pieces of media. The resulting media
can contain the following: Plain files (copy), disk
images (Ghost), and archive files (backup programs).
Everything except for the plain file copy requires
using the creating program to restore files. In order
to restore a backup, you need a functioning computer.
Most backup programs come with bootable disks, which
will allow you to use a computer with a corrupted (non-bootable)
operating system. Many programs even allow restorations
over network connections.
3) Select where you are going to put your backup
Once you know what needs to be backed up and how you
can select appropriate media. Some things to consider
include the following. Will the media hold the entire
backup, or will you have to baby sit and swap in blank
media as needed? How long it will take to run the backup?
Do you want multiple sets of backup media to rotate
offsite? The latter would be difficult with an external
hard disk drive and easier with tapes or recordable
DVDs. Some people opt not to use removable media at
all and instead synchronize their data across multiple
computers, home and office for example. Others choose
on-line data warehouses on the Internet where they
can store their backups. And still others put their
trust in redundant (mirrored) drive systems. In the
end, it’s up to you to decide what’s right
||Pros and Cons
|USB "Thumb" drives
||64MB - 2GB
- Easily lost, damaged, washed
|Recordable optical disks
4.7 - 9.4GB (DVD)
- Easily damaged
||1.4MB - 500GB
||- Media can be expensive
- Availability issues
|External hard drives
||- Huge capacity, Fast
- Not very portable
|Local Area Network (Shared server storage)
||- Requires network
- Ties up network bandwidth
||- Off-site, accessible anywhere
- Requires broadband; cost
|Network attached storage (stand-alone storage)
||- Requires network
- Can tie up network bandwidth
||- Real time, no user intervention
- No off-site storage or history
4) Make a recovery
plan and recovery kit
time to determine how to restore a system is not in
the middle of a crisis. Consider making a written plan
of the steps necessary to restore your computer before
it is needed. Keep this plan updated and, if possible,
test it to make sure it works. In addition, test your
backups, making sure the media is readable and that
it contains everything it is supposed to. Be aware
that viruses and other malicious programs are just
files on the hard drive and can inadvertently be included.
A comprehensive antivirus package should be used on
Create a recovery kit and keep it in
a secure but accessible location. Your recovery kit
should contain the following:
• An up-to-date
copy of your recovery plan
• Operating System
or restore CDs and product key
• All application
installation CDs and their product keys
programs needed to recover the backup data
else needed to make this or another computer functional.
|Windows includes a backup utility that can save
your files to removable media, a different hard drive,
or a network drive. It does not directly support burning
to recordable CD or DVD media.
|Backup 2.0.2 is available to .Mac members by selecting
the Backup icon on the .Mac website and via Automatic
Software Update to .Mac members who have already installed
a previous version of Backup.
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