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Saturday, November 9, 2013

1422. Backup, backup, backup, then test the restore

I know we are not the norm but I think it is important to have backups of my computers. And I know you do. What kind of backups should we have? Online, archive, offsite?  How can people set this up?

Ken we are not the norm. But I do know that there are people that have done backups and needed them and there are people that wish they had done backups and will need them.

I recommend two kinds of backups. An ongoing image backup that can be used to completely restore your disk drive in case of total failure. Then there are the backups that will backup your day to day files that you create and change.

For PC's I don't really like the built in Windows backups. There are a number of companies that have very good backup software that provides Image backup as well as file backups.

I started using a product called Reflect from Macrium Software. They have a free version that does provide excellant Image backups. Their pay for products have more features and I found it to be the best product available. They do not integrate offsite backup at this time.

Other companies include Paragon Software and Acronis Software. I have run into some support issues with Acronis so I would consider other products. Although there current product True Image 2014 provide Image Backup and offsite file backup of 5GB in the same product.

The local image backup requires a hard drive and I recommend a USB portable drive. You can find them for $50-$150 depending on the size. Get something that is at least twice as big as your backup storage requirements.

Mac users have Time Machine. This is built into the Operating System. It gives your the image backup as well as files. It does not provide for offsite backup.

Sadly most people only do the day to day files if they do any backups. This is fine but consider the time and money it will take to recreate your computer status to how it looks today from when you bought it. In my case it would take me at least 8 hours. If I had an image backup I could restore my computer to it's current state in less than 30 minutes. I would bet it would be the same for most people.

The day to day file backup is critical as well and I recommend looking into backing up those files offsite in case of a complete disaster like fire. There are many ways to do this with companies like Carbonite.com, Mozy.com, Crashplan.com and there are websites providing free offsite storage like dropbox.com and skydrive.com 

The other important factor is even if you are doing your backups, if you haven't tested the procedure to restore your files you might as well not be doing the backup. I can't emphasize this enough. Get technical help testing the restore so you don't cause problems, like overlaying good data. I always use an extra disk drive to test my image restore.

Backup, backup, backup, and TEST the RESTORE.

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