What You Need to Know about Windows Computer Backups - dummies

What You Need to Know about Windows Computer Backups

By Dan Gookin

Few people bother to back up the data on their PC and end up paying the price later. Since you have decided to be one of the smart ones, here’s everything you need to know before you start your computer backup.

You can make a backup of your computer data files in three ways:

Manual copy: To back up your files, simply duplicate them on removable media: an optical disc, media card, or external hard drive. You use the standard file copying methods in Windows to copy the files. It’s time consuming, but simple.

Backup program: Employ a backup program. The program does basically the same thing as when you copy files. The advantage is that it automates and simplifies the process. Plus, the program adds features such as scheduling, the ability to manage backup sets, and the power to quickly restore files from the backup.

Internet backup: It’s the newest kid on the backup block — a backup program, similar to what’s described in the preceding paragraph, but stored on the Internet rather than on optical discs or external hard drives. Internet backup also involves ongoing fees.

No matter how you back up, the result is the same: You have a second copy of your files. You can use the copy to restore files you accidentally deleted, recover files irreparably changed, or restore portions of your system damaged by a virus or hardware disaster. Backup is good news.

Today’s backup programs take advantage of high-capacity optical discs, media cards, external hard drives, network and Internet storage. External storage is cheap and plentiful. Backup programs are widely available, and a good backup program comes with Windows.

  • The process of backing up files is referred to as archiving. A backup copy of a file is also known as an archive.

  • The key to being successful in backing up your files is to place them on removable media, which is a type of storage that’s different from the computer’s internal storage. You can store the removable media elsewhere, such as in a fire safe.

  • Remember that the hard drive is the first location for storing files on your computer. To keep the backup copy safe, it should be on another storage media. That way, if your PC has a hardware problem, your files exist safely elsewhere.

  • Backup is also necessary when the computer’s primary storage is an SSD. That’s because the backup philosophy is about your stuff (data), not about the media on which it’s stored.

  • Store your backup copies in a fire safe. You can find a small, portable fire safe for your data at most office supply stores.

  • Backup programs can be run automatically. You never forget to back up when you schedule the backup program to run every day and make that safety copy of your stuff.

  • Backup programs remember which files have been backed up and which files have been created or modified since the last backup. You can take advantage of this situation by directing the backup program to archive only those files that are newly created or have been modified since the last backup operation.

  • The clutch of files that’s backed up is referred to as a backup set. Backup programs can manage multiple backup sets.

  • Backup programs feature a restore utility that allows you to easily recover files that have been backed up. The files can be restored individually, or the computer’s entire file system can be rebuilt by using the archived copy.