A basic guide to backing up your data

Backing up data regularly is essential, especially for businesses as they will have data that they cannot afford to lose – customer databases, accounts, payroll records, and so on.

A comprehensive data backup strategy is vital to your data security. There are a number of different methods to choose from, depending on how much data you need to backup and how often you want to do it.

Types of backup

A full backup consists of a copy of your entire system; typical components include all of your data, applications, drivers, settings and your operating system.

Incremental and differential backups are similar to one another; both make copies of only the files that have changed since the last time you ran your backup schedule.

With selective backups, you manually select the files you’d like to back up.

What data to back up

You don’t need to back up your applications, such as Microsoft Word. If the worst happens, you can always re-install those programs. But the information you create must be protected.

The most common way to backup email data is by exporting important messages into files, which can then be backed up.

For Windows users, you should back up your registry files. Most backup programs allow you to back up the Registry automatically. Otherwise, search online for how to do this manually.

How often?

As a general rule, people who use their computer occasionally (5 hours/week or less) should be backing up their data on at least a weekly basis. If you use your computer more frequently, however (more than 10 hours/week), doing it daily is probably a good idea. Another variable is the type of data you store on your computer. Obviously, the important it is to you, the more important backing it up becomes.

Which storage medium to use?

Tape has been the most popular choice for a number of years. Tape backups are relatively slow, but the process can be automated. You can schedule the backup for when you’re sleeping. Tape drives have a capacity of 10 to 40 gigabytes, with the data uncompressed.

Other options include:

  • Back up to the cloud
  • Back up to a CD or DVD drive. CDs will hold up to 700 MB; most DVDs will hold 4.7 GB
  • Use a Zip or Jaz drive. These are made by Iomega. Zips hold 250 MB of data; Jaz holds 2 GB.
  • Use an external or internal hard drive

    If you need any further help or advice, you can contact Jane Walker – telephone 0777 169 1194.