How do I backup my computer?
How do I “back up” my computer? I am sure my question is ridiculous to you but I honestly have no clue what I should be doing.
Your question’s not ridiculous at all, and in fact I’m certain that one reason so many people don’t back up is exactly that: they don’t know how.
Backing up is simply making a copy of program files and/or data, and then keeping that copy in a safe place. Nothing more, nothing less.
The goal of a backup is also simple: if something ever happens to your computer such that you can no longer get your information off of it (which happens more often than people realize), then you can always get the information from the backup copies.
Where backing up can start to seem complicated is when you look at all the options relating to how much to back up, how often, and the various tools to make sure that it happens regularly.
Backing up typically takes one of two forms:
· Copying your data. This is conceptually very simple. For example, if you copy pictures off of your digital camera, and then immediately burn those pictures to a CD for safe-keeping, you’ve backed them up. Similarly, if you regularly take the contents of your “My Documents” folder tree and copy it to another machine or burn it to CD, that’s one form of backing those files up; they’re safely stored in another location in addition to the original.
· Imaging your system. This is also conceptually very simple: rather than backing up only this-and-that, hoping that you actually remembered to include everything you might need in case of a disaster, this approach makes a copy of everything; your data, your programs, your settings - even the operating system itself.
Both types of backups share a common characteristic: whatever they backup, be it just certain files and folders or absolutely everything, they do so by a) making a copy, and then b) placing that copy somewhere else.
If your data is in only one place, and there are no copies, then you’re not backed up.
So where should “somewhere else” be?
Well, the ideal answer is “as far away from your computer as practical”. The further away, the more you are protected from various types of disasters.