Why you need to back up your information:
As you probably know if you are at this website, hard drives can fail when you least expect it. When that happens, all the information on that drive is lost. If you have a backup copy of the information, all is well. Planning a backup strategy and sticking with it is the key to avoiding disaster when the inevitable happens.
Backup to CDs or DVDs:
Burning information to disc to preserve it is best for very light users of computers.
- Cheap initial cost. Most computers have the necessary equipment built in and discs are inexpensive, $1-2 per disc.
- Easy for small targeted backups. If you keep all of your information in just a couple folders, it is easy to burn those to disc.
- Easy to transport off-site for extra safety.
- Bad for larger backups. Many discs needed to backup whole computer.
- Constant changing of discs as they are burned is time consuming.
- Expensive if done frequently. If your files change regularly and you backup more than monthly, discs will be used very frequently. Additional paid software can help by saving only changes since the last backup.
Backup to an external hard drive:
Putting all the information from the internal drive of the computer onto another drive connected to the computer.
- Great for large backups. By picking a drive larger than your internal means never running out of space for your stuff.
- Economical in the long term: One-time purchase of drive lasts for years.
- Constant connection: Leaving the drive plugged in allows your information to be always current.
- Higher initial cost. Purchase of external drive needed
- Provides temptation to keep data only on the external which is also vulnerable.
- Local storage means it can be destroyed along with computer in catastrophe (i.e. fire or flood)
Keeping a copy of your information online means, if needed, all your information can be downloaded again.
- Easy setup; Software included to automate the process and back up only what is needed.
- Low fixed cost; Most plans have a fixed monthly fee that covers the backup and storage costs.
- Off-site; Your data is located away from your computer so in case of a disaster like a fire or flood, your backup is still safe.
- Initial backup and any recovery, if needed, can take weeks to transfer if you have a lot of data.
- Monthly cost: This is also listed as a pro, but it is also just one more bill to pay.
This is the ideal backup solution. This combines a hard drive for immediately accessible and constantly updated backups with an online service as a safeguard against a disaster like a fire or flood.