By Gary Cox
There are many different options and types of backups, but firstly a quick reminder of how important backups are.
“To Backup or not to Backup; that is the question” as Shakespeare could have said if he were alive today.
There are two types of people in the world today; those that have lost data in a computer crash or had it stolen and those that WILL lose data sometime in the future. This is said tongue in cheek but is also based upon the high volume of customers that seek data recovery services.
Making a backup of your data to an external source is a good idea for everyone. Now the word “data” means the following: any files that you have created, scanned, faxed, downloaded, copied from an external source (e.g. USB stick) or been emailed. This includes any documents you have, any music (e.g. iTunes), any pictures/photos, any videos/movies and any files you have downloaded (generally in the Downloads directory on a Windows computer).
This isn’t an exhaustive list as you may have generated other files with a program that you use on your computer. These include Word, Excel etc or used Picasa or Smilebox to generate collages and slideshows etc. It is up to you to back up what you have so you need to be aware of where your files reside on your computer. If this is too much “rocket science” then please ask for our assistance and we can assist you with this.
Types of Backups
Several types of backups are available to computer users:
- Backup to an external Hard Disk Drive (HDD) 2.5” or 3.5”.
- Backup to “The Cloud”.
- Backup to another computer or server on the network.
- Backup to a DVD or USB flash drive.
Also in terms of types of backups there are manual or automatic backups:
- Manual backups are done by you manually copying files or directories to the backup device.
- Automatic backups which are performed by a software program such as Microsoft “Backup and Restore”. These by default backs up your nominated files and directories at 7pm weekly on a Sunday night.
- Syncing of files from the computer to “The Cloud”.
Backing Up to the Cloud
Now in terms of types of backups everyone talks about “The Cloud”. What this esoteric name suggests that there is something up above our heads where data or programs or something is kept. Not so “The Cloud” refers to the Internet and the Internet is a mass of computers all linked together. Desktops, Servers, tablets, mainframes, mini computers and anything which is IP enabled (it has an IP address in other words). This could be the car, fridge, phone, toaster, TV, lights and someday the dog and cat will have a chip to see where they are by GPS. They already do this with marine animals, and land based animals to study their movements, but we digress.
Manual backups are excellent as they copy each file and directory. Thus no matter what computer you want to copy them or access them from then they can be read, opened or changed. The different types of computers are generally different versions of Windows, Apple computers and Linux computers. Manual backups are easy enough to complete. The catch is you just have to remember to do them yourself. If you need to learn how to do this then we can assist with this task.
Automatic backups are accomplished using a software package. Most Windows (not Windows 8 or 8.1) and Apple computers have a built-in software program which achieves this. This blog will not go into Apple’s Time Machine. That is for another blog on backups.
How to Use Windows for Automatic Backups
On a Windows PC in Control Panel you will see “Backup and Restore”. Click on this and follow the prompts on-screen. You need to tell Windows backup what Drive letter your backup device is (external HDD, flash drive, network drive etc). Drive C: is the bootable HDD, D: maybe your DVD etc. Once you tell Windows backup the Drive letter it will then ask if you want Windows to decide which files and Directories to back up. You can then specify daily, weekly or monthly, different days and times depending on your choices. I generally allow Windows to decide what files and Directories but you may want something different. Again we can assist here.
There are other software packages too numerous to mention which achieve the same thing if you decide you don’t want to use Windows “Backup and Restore”.
Syncing Files to The Cloud
Syncing files to “The Cloud”, you will need a “cloud” account such as Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive or Google Drive to name the top 4. There are many many others out there far too many to mention here. Once you have your “cloud” account setup and you have your username and password written down and accessible then you will at some stage need to login to that account.
With Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 you can setup a computer login account and this will take you to Microsoft OneDrive. Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 are OneDrive enabled. This means OneDrive is setup and any files you “drop” or copy to that directory should mean that they are copied to “the cloud”. This effectively means an off-site storage facility. This is good because if you lose your computer, house and contents then at least your files (data) are somewhere else waiting to be accessed by you or a “shared” friend to access again.
I have very briefly described Microsoft OneDrive here. There are other similar types of backup services that work in a similar fashion. However I won’t go in to here due to space.
Warning Re Syncing Files to the Cloud
No matter which “cloud” service you use be very aware that by syncing a file to “The Cloud” there is a copy “off-site”. But and this is a big but, if you delete that file on your computer it will definitely delete it on “The Cloud”. Not much of a backup system then is it? Well, what you need to do is to de-sync that directory. Then you need to delete the file from your computer. By doing this when the sync next happens that file deletion is not then synced to “The Cloud”. Thus your file is then not deleted.
Be warned, this sort of thing can be very dangerous as it is quite obvious a mistake can happen. If I was you, I would backup to an external HDD first and foremost. Only then would I suggest you experiment with the cloud syncing.
Backup Type Recommendations
What types of backup do I use? I use an external HDD, network backup to different computers and some “cloud” backup.
In terms of types of backups, whilst the cloud is considered by many to be the one and only answer, this is not in our opinion correct. One major issue in Kenya with “cloud” backup is the very slow Internet up-link speeds that are available. Also the data caps that many ISP (Internet Service Providers) have on your account.
Be very careful that you don’t blow your data cap out of the water. If this happens, your Internet speed could very well plummet. Also the slow up-link speed could mean that all your pictures/photos you want on “The Cloud,” could literally take weeks to up-load. This is with the computer working 24/7.
If copying data is very important or you need to access data anywhere in the world on any computer or IP device the cloud is probably, in this writer’s opinion, the best use for this type of backup.
PS If the horse has already bolted and you have lost data and don’t have a backup we have a service that you may be interested in…
Call us on 072-898-0362 to answer your questions or to provide Computer and IT Support, we would be happy to hear from you. We at GCComp have the experience and technical knowledge to help you with your technology issues “We know technology so you don’t have to”.