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How To Back Up Data from a PC

How Do I Backup My Hard Drive?

All the photographs you take, all the email you send and receive, all the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses of your contacts, all of your music, all of your digital movies, all of your tax returns, everything could be wiped out in the blink of an eye. We are talking about what happens when a hard drive crashes.

Backing up data stored on the hard drive in your PC is a critical task. Nearly everyone knows that but few back up data regularly, if at all. Not only does the data need to be backed up once, but it needs to be backed up again and again, because the many data files change and grow. Even files that don't change, like photos, you may be adding new photos to the same directories, mixing them with older photos. When that happens, it may be difficult to know which have been backed up and which haven't, which means the whole directory may need to be backed, just to ensure everything is included.

What Should I Back Up?

"What should be backed up?" is a common question. The most important thing to back up is critical data, that is, data that cannot be replaced. It is very common for people to download photos from digital cameras onto their PC, and that is as far as they go. Those photos cannot be replaced because they exist nowhere else other than the PC's hard drive. Email only exists on your PC, unless you are using a service that hosts your mail. Gmail resides on Google's equipment, but if you use Outlook or other software on your PC for email, then your complete record of sent and received email probably exists only on your PC. These are just two examples of critical data.

Another backup option is to back up the entire hard drive including the operating system, drivers, installed programs, as well as all of your data. The advantage is that if done properly, the back up can be easily installed onto a new replacement hard drive allowing you to quickly restore your PC to precrash status. However, this requires a lot of storage space to handle this amount of data. It takes a long time and the reinstallation may not work perfectly, and thus require the arduous task of reinstalling the operating system and programs manually before restoring your data.

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