Let’s face it. Your hard drive is your life. If you lost it, you would not only lose your music files, but you would lose your digital photos, financial records, and email. Plus you would end up wasting a lot of time.
The one true fact is that 100% of hard drives will eventually fail. Drives are mechanical devices. They have motors that spin thousands of times every second and they have arms that move back and forth like a phonograph arm, that reads all the information from the spinning disks. And they are a physical medium and, just like vinyl records, if the surface of the disk is touched, the data stored there can be permanently lost. Plus, hard drives have a life expectancy of 3-5 years. After the 3rd year, the probability of a failure goes way up.
Even the new solid state hard drives that are essentially like very large flash drives, are still vulnerable to problems like virus attacks, file corruption, or plain old human error. How many times have you accidentally deleted or overwritten an important file?
Here are 3 easy ways to perform a hard drive backup.
Also known as off site backup, this is the easiest, least expensive and most reliable way to back up your hard drive. How online backup works is after you setup an online account, you download and install a small piece of software on your computer or server. You then tell the software what files and folders you want backed up, when to do it, and you are done. It’s basically a set it and forget it method.
Most importantly, online backup software automatically keeps an encrypted copy of your files off site where fire, thieves, and natural disaster can’t get at them.
• Backups are automatic so the user never has to remember to do it. Just set it and forget it
• Unlimited online backup plans like those from are less than $5/month
• Online backup is the most secure method since your backups are always encrypted
• Great for home or business use
• Files need to be backed up over the internet which can take time
• Even though the backed up files are encrypted, some people may not feel comfortable having their data away from their home
• Restoring files can take a while if you have a very slow internet connection
Redundant External Hard Drive
With this method, you buy an external hard drive, plug it into your computer via USB, and copy or synchronize your files between your drives. Backing up your hard drive this way is relatively easy, and some free software exists to help you do this. Plus, theoretically, you are spreading your risk of a hard drive failure over more drives thereby reducing your chances of getting caught if one drive fails. However if something then happens to the only copy of your files on your second drive while you are restoring your primary drive, you are going to be in a world of hurt. And before you think that will never happen to you, talk to your friendly tech guru and ask them to tell you some stories.
Still, backing up with an external hard drive can be an easy and cost effective way to backup your primary hard drive. Plus external hard drive software can be free or very low cost.
• You have exclusive control over all your files
• Hard drive backup software is free or inexpensive
• There is only a onetime cost for the drive
• Backups can be scheduled
• Often the backup software doesn’t encrypt your files
• If someone breaks into your home, or your home is destroyed by fire, earthquake or other natural disaster, you are almost certainly in a world of pain
• You are essentially doubling the cost you are spending on hard drives
• Doesn’t provide for off site backups, so it isn’t a good solution for business
• Can cost 2 or 3 times the price of a single yearly online backup subscription
Backup to Flash Drive
Many people lately have been backing up their files to a flash drive or thumb drive which they then store at their desk, or carry with them. Flash drives are inexpensive and getting cheaper all the time. Plus their storage capacity is increasing rapidly. They are also conceptually easy for people to understand. Simply plug them in, and then make a copy of your documents to the flash drive. Put it on the shelf or in your pocket and you are done. They also make it very convenient to move files from computer to computer.
Plus flash drives are easily portable and fit in your pocket. Some of the drawbacks however are they are not secure, they are easily lost, and people usually forget to backup their files. (By the way, when was the last time you made a backup?) And the user has to manage their backup, remembering what folders and files were backed up, and what versions.
• Easy to use
• No extra software needed
• Flash drives are very inexpensive and portable
• If (when?) you lose it, someone will have access to your files
• Backing up all your files is often a manual process you have to remember to do
• Doesn’t protect you in case of fire or theft if kept at home
• You have to buy an additional drive, and manage your own backups
In conclusion, hard drive backup software has come a long way over the past 10 years. Thankfully, nobody backs up to tape anymore. The good news is that the price for all these methods is forever falling. If you own a business or if you just want your backups to happen automatically without you having to do anything, then online backup companies like All Safe Backup are a great way to go.