Trust me, you need to back up your computer. Occasionally making “a copy of everything on a flash drive” does not count. If you are not doing backups automatically, every day, then you are not really backing up your computer.
Twice, in just the last week, I’ve been called to help with crashed computers that hadn’t been backed up. In both cases the owner thought that most recent backup was an unknown number of months old. In both cases, it turned out to be almost a year.
The result is that everything stored on those computers between the year-old backup and now, is lost. In one case, it was tax records that were lost. In the other it was photographs. If you store anything on your computer – photos, music, letters, school papers, tax records – then you need to back it up. ALL the time. Automatically. If you lose a dollar, you can earn another one. If you lose a photograph, it’s gone. Forever. Computers do break. The sad truth is that a computer can break down with no warning whatsoever at any time. Or it can be attacked by malware, including ransomware.
A very common question after a disk failure is, “can the disk be recovered,” The answer is too often a sad and disheartening, “No.” If the hard drive has failed, it can be sent off to specialists, but the fees for these services can run to over a thousand dollars, and there’s no guaranty that they can recover any, much less all, of your lost data.
You Need Automatic Backups!
You probably have more irreplaceable stuff on your computer than you realize. Photos, of course, are especially painful to lose. If your pictures were all on your hard drive, and your drive has been wrecked by failure or by malware – then your photos are, most likely, gone. If you don’t have an automatic backup going now, you need to get one set up right away. Please, don’t put it off.
How to Back Up Your Computer Data
To be truly data safe, you need a regular, automatic back up. All modern computers, Windows or Mac, have built-in programs for automatically backing up your data to an external drive. External drives are not expensive – around $50 and up. They’re certainly cheaper than the heartache of lost data.
An external drive gets plugged into your computer, and to be automatic it needs to stay connected to your computer – all of the time. But, of course, if the drive is connected to your computer, then it is also vulnerable to a malware attack.
The way around that is to use a cloud-based automatic backup service. Cloud backups are immune to malware, including ransomware. With cloud backup, you literally set it and pretty much forget it. Until you need it. The cost is about the same as buying a new external drive once a year. Usually starting at around $5 per month, per computer. Not bad; really.
There are several reputable cloud backup services, and the leaders are all easy to setup and use. Personally, we use a service called Carbonite (www.carbonite.com), and I recommend this one to folks with Windows computers. Carbonite has a version for Mac users too, but a service called iDrive (www.idrive.com) has some advantage for Macs. These are the two that I see most frequently and that folks seem happiest with.
Whether you decide to go with an external drive or with cloud-based backup; automatic is really the crucial key, and both solutions give you that. And they are both easy! Please; please: back up your computer.
Protect your software licenses!
One thing to note; backups keep your data safe, but, in general, they do not backup your programs. Be sure to keep your software license keys and installation disks or online account information safe and handy. You’ll need them when for a system recovery.
Hoping, as always, that this is all quite clear and useful; nevertheless if I can fill in some details or help with anything on your computers, please don’t hesitate to call: Mike Pepper, Computer Guy. www.PawlingComputerGuy.com 845-855-5824