Your computer crashed and a technician deems your hard drive dead. What are your next steps? Really, just two. The expensive and painstaking data recovery approach or the cheaper, reliable backup restore.
Data recovery could cost in the thousands and still doesn’t guarantee that all of your favorite pictures and critical e-mails are rescued. Also, you could be waiting from 1 to 4 painstaking days before your data is retrieved.
As for the reliable backup restore, this is a method whereby you copy your computer files to another source, such as an external hard drive. This is highly recommended so that if your computer crashes, you already have a back up of your files. Hence, no downtime and worrying!
Let’s now talk about the types of backup.
There are USB and firewire external hard drives ranging from 120GB – 500GB with a price tag from $80 – $600. These drives are a great way to back large types of files, such as pictures and music. Just remember that external hard drives, like all drives, are meant to fail over a period of time. Even such, it is rare that your computer hard drive and external hard drive will fail at the same time. So, this is a good form of redundancy.
Flash drives or thumb drives are a nice portable way to back up your files also. These small gadgets can be put in your pocket and used as a key chain due to its small size. The capacity ranges from 256MB – 4GB and prices are from $30 – $150. So, it might not hold your whole collection of files, but at least you can feel more comfortable sleeping at night by backing up your decades’ worth of accounting files.
Another reliable backup is CDs or DVDs. These guys will not fail and can only become useless if you scratch them to death or use them as coffee coasters. Most computers at least have a CD burner where you can store 700MB, just less than 1GB, of files on CDs. If you have more than 1GB of files to copy which is common, an external DVD burner is a wise, inexpensive and possibly cool investment. You may store up to 4.7GB of files, or the equivalent of 2,000 pictures, 1,500 songs, e-mails, and word documents. Costs range from $75 – $250. The cool factor arises if you get a Lightscribe DVD burner where you can label the DVDs with a laser technology…basically, no messy, sticky labels. Also, some burners have double-layer capacity so you can store almost 10GB of data on 1 DVD.
Another sure backup is by tape. Tape backups are usually found in server environments due to their high price tags, ranging from $750 – $10,000+. Similar to CDs and DVDs, they will not fail like hard drives. Further, tapes have a magnetic inner lining that is coated with hard plastic, thereby making it the most durable and reliable backup. Tapes may hold anywhere from 20GB to 800GB of data each.
Online backups have been popular lately. However, they are not recommended due totheir high costs. Storing files online usually comes with a monthly cost or cost per GB of storage. In return, a company hosts your files on their server computer. It is almost like having a personal butler take care of your files on the Internet. Get an external backup on your own. You’ll have full ownership and more cash in your pocket at the end of the day.
A dying breed are the floppies and ZIP drives due to their lower storage amounts. Don’t even think about using them unless you are doing a research project.