4 Important Data Backup Strategies For Your PC

By Abhijeet Mukherjee

October 2, 2008   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man


The computer is one of the greatest inventions we’ve seen – and the internet is probably the greatest icing on the cake. Your computer, apart from being a machine that has made life so much easier and lets you do almost everything you can imagine, is also a big box containing lots and lots of one thing – data.
Yes, that data could be in the form of pictures, videos, documents, software log files, movies, etc. For the most part, this data is safe. That is until the inevitable day that your hard drive crashes. If you haven’t prepared, your data is gone!

This situation is so common that the art of the ‘backup’ has spawned an entire industry. Today there are dozens of firms offering different data backup solutions.
Sadly, I’m writing this post just a day after I was forced to reinstall Windows and recover my data. I can’t tell you what a nightmare it would have been had I not backed up all my important stuff. Keeping that in mind, I’ve decided to mention 4 important data backup strategies for Windows users, most of them being almost the same for Mac users except for the change in the software type. Check them out and start backing up.
Back Up Offline Files And Folders
Offline files and folders are things stored on your computer; you know, the files that are available to you when you’re no online. It can include all your pictures, documents, videos and many other files. To back them up, you should use an external storage device like an external USB hard disk drive. Such drives are plug and play and very easy to use.
As I have mentioned in a previous post, I use the 500 GB Western Digital MyBook for the purpose. Apart from this strategy, I highly recommend signing up with an online backup service like Mozy and getting your files backed up with them. In case your external hard drive gets stolen or damaged, they will send you the DVDs containing your data.
Talking about back up software, there are many. I have spoken about a free tool called AceBackup for this purpose. There’s one more tool which I came across known as IdleBackup. It’s an excellent tool which is free and automatically backs up files while you’re away from your computer. LifeHacker has a detailed description about the entire process and how it works.
Back Up Browser Preferences
Your browser is your gateway to the internet. It stores data which includes your bookmarks and passwords and many other customized settings which should be backed up. If you are using Internet Explorer then you can export your bookmarks and save them to the external drive. Regarding the passwords, there are some paid tools to export and store IE passwords, although I haven’t tried any of them.
For Firefox users, there is much more data, like the extensions and preferences. Fortunately, the backup is not that tough. Check out this post – 3 Useful Methods to Back Up Your Firefox Preferences. My personal favorite is the FEBE extension which backs up everything with a single click. I used to restore all my Firefox preferences easily, after reinstalling Windows.Back Up Emails
Now emails are something which are as important as any other data and they need to be backed up. If you are using any web based email account, a separate Gmail account can function as an online email backup center for those accounts. You can go ahead and set up the Gmail mail fetcher for the purpose.
If you are using desktop email app like Outlook, you can export and backup the emails using the Import and Export Wizard. You could even export and backup emails from Outlook to Gmail online.
Sync Tools
We have discussed how to backup your data, however if you don’t organize and sync the data in your computer and the external storage device then that’s work half done. You need to setup tools which would also sync the data between the devices. IdleBackup, which I’ve mentioned above does incremental back ups which means it only backs up those files which have changed. So in a way it takes care of the sync task.
Other good tools which let you sync data between two locations are SyncbackSE and the free tool, Microsoft SyncToy. SyncbackSE comes with a free trial and is probably the best backup and sync tool available. It also offers a free version called Syncback Freeware which is a pretty awesome tool too.
Hope you like the data backup strategies mentioned and make use of them to back up your data everyday.

Written on 10/02/2008 by Abhijeet Mukherjee. You can catch him at Jeet Blog where he blogs about different Web 2.0 apps and online tools and how they can help you become more productive. Photo Credit: jeremyfoo
Abhijeet Mukherjee

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