How To Back Up Data from a PC
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After your first complete backup, subsequent backups can be complete, or to save time and storage space, partial backups that only back up new or changed files can be done. In either case, don't record over your old backups. Save your old backups and make fresh new backups in addition.
The reason for maintaining multiple backups is multifold. First of all, having multiple backups means that you can store data away from your home or business. If your home is destroyed, your back up data will be too, unless you keep a copy off-site, in a safe deposit box, at work, at friend's or relative's house. Secondly, the storage medium for your back up can fail. A scratched CD, a data write error when copying or other glitch or damage can ruin a back up copy. Finally, occasionally a backed up file can contain a virus or become corrupted. The damaged file might be backed up in that condition and when restored may be unusable. maintaining multiple copies allows you to fall back to older copies to find a working copy of the file.
How Often Should I Back Up My Data?
Frequency of back up is dependent upon how much your data changes over time. If you are downloading important photographs daily, then a daily back up might be prudent. Weekly backups are a good idea, but for some people, little data changes in a week and so that would be a waste of effort for them. You have to decide how critical your data is and evaluate how much new data you accumulate and how quickly it changes and grows.
Bottom line, backing up data once a year should be an absolute baseline. In this case, it should be a complete backup, not just new data. Annually backing up is probably inadequate, but doing so more often may be too much of a chore for some. Quarterly backups should be a goal for everyone. Quarterly backups should include one full back ups and three back ups of only new and changed files. If you have a high volume of data accumulation or files changes, then monthly back ups should be the goal, with a complete back up every three to six months.
How To Back Up Data
Backing up data can be automated through the use of backup software that uses a scheduler. Some software allows you to specify whether to back up all data or only new and changed data.
Many of these programs also offer the ability to compress the data so that it takes up less storage space. In my years of experience, I have found data compression to be fraught with peril. In numerous instances, the data could not be restored because it had been corrupted, or the manufacturer had gone out of business and some critical driver could not be obtained, or the data could not restored because it is not compatible with a newer version of the PC's operating system. Relying on a software solution that gets between you and your data is a dangerous thing to do. Data should be uncompressed and accessible by a simple file copy command.
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