How do you back up your data?

Recently I’ve heard of an unusually high number of friends who have had computer issues which lead them to lose data.  This has caused me to question how I back up my data and how to safeguard it.

In the past I have experienced this myself having my main hard drive fail.  I was fortunate at this time that I had a second external hard drive which was real-time synchronising all of my files.  However while that is fine for hardware failures it wouldn’t protect me from Viruses or Natural Disasters (or clumsiness!).  With this in mind I also have an offsite backup on a DVD in a Fire safe.  Even so I don’t think my backups are sufficient.  As I speak  can’t remember the last time I replaced the DVD with a recent backup and my external hard drive has made scraping noises for the last few months but as it works I haven’t got round to replacing it.

So I wanted to re-evaluate my backup options and see what has changed since I last looked

Offsite Backups

I mentioned that  back up to DVD (occasionally) despite DVD’s being so cheap I feel bad about “wasting” money by using them.  A “modern” solution would be to use a USB Key.  Looking today at I was shocked to find the Sandisk Cruzer 16GB USB flash drive for just £15.49.  16GB is enough for me to back up all my photos and documents.  If I needed more memory I could buy a portable hard drive which have massively decreased in price.

Cons – Remembering to back up regularly

Real-time Back ups

My old Iomega External hard drive came with a real time backup program which allowed you to select folders on your main hard drive which it would copy to the external drive.  This was brilliant as if a file changed it would still save the old file up to 5 versions.  This meant any for large documents I was working on (eg my University dissertation) I had multiple versions of which saved me a few times when I deleted the wrong paragraph and saved!  Iomega Automatic backup is no longer available to buy and although it is a simple good piece of software that does exactly what it says on the tin, I have my eyes open for something better / new.  Any suggestions.  One I have found which looks promising is Live File Backup

Cons – Doesn’t protect you from Viruses or natural disasters, eg Fire or Cups of Tea disasters (CTD’s)

Sky Drives

This is a new area for me which looks very exciting, Skydrives (I just love the term, not sure if they are really called that) involve saving your files in the cloud (Internet).  Several companies offer this and I’m yet to decide which is best.  Obviously you have to factor in that you are trusting your personal data with another company.

  • Pros
  • 25 GB of storage
  • Password protected or shareable with your Windows Live Friends
  • Cons
  • No easy backup option (that I can find) you have to manually add files.
  • Pros
  • The Worlds most popular (According to Mozy)
  • PC software allows you to select files / folders to back up
  • After the initial backup, MozyHome only backs up files that have been added or changed, making subsequent backups lightning fast.
  • 128 Bit SSL Encryption
  • Cons
  • $4.95 a month
  • Dropbox
    • Similar to Mozy but 2GB free and it doesn’t let you choose folders, you have a “Drop” folder that you keep files you wish to back up in.


My conclusion is that I don’t know the perfect solution and I don’t think there is one.  I think the best approach is a multi pronged one.  I will soon have to splash out on a new external hard drive and will use this a real time document back up.  An offsite backup will be especially useful for items which don’t “date” like my photography collection.  Finally Skydrives I think will be good for backing up documents as well.  I currently use Drop Box which is ok, but as it is a “drop folder” rather than choosing folders to sync I need to remember to update it.  I chose Dropbox because the first 2GB are free and I’m tight!  However there are rumors of Google introducing a G-Drive, this could be the perfect solution in the future as surely it will have at least 5GB of storage.

Back to the title

Back to this post’s title How do you back up your data – I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I’d love you to leave a comment saying, if / how you back up your data and what you recommend.

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