How Should I Back Up My Computer?

February 25, 2015

95% of computer users store information on their computer that they don’t want to lose. If you are one of these, then you should be backing up your computer. If you don’t, you run the very real risk of losing the information stored on your computer. If you think it can’t happen to you, think again. We’ve seen it a thousand times.

There are two basic types of backups. Local backups and remote backups. A local backup is when you back up the information that is stored on a computer to some sort of media that is in the same room as the computer. Examples of local backups include backing up to CD/DVD, flash drives, external hard drives, and similar. A remote backup backs up your information over the internet to another computer that is somewhere else. This is done by subscribing to a remote backup service.

Each type of backup has it’s advantages and it’s disadvantages.

Local backups are faster and can handle more information. They do not tie up your internet bandwidth and they are generally cheaper than remote backups. Not all types of local backups can be automated. That is why, for local backups, we recommend backing up to an external hard drive that you keep connected to your computer. You can set up your backup software to automatically backup to the external hard drive. Local backups protect you against hard drive failure or accidentally deleting something. But if the building where your computer is located burns down or is broken into, then both the computer and the local backup can be destroyed or stolen and you are left without your data.

Remote backups have the advantage that they are automatic. You just set them and forget them. But the biggest advantage to remote backups is that even if the building where your computer is located is destroyed, your data is safe on a server somewhere else. The disadvantages to remote backup are that it uses your internet bandwidth, costs more than local backup, and they cannot handle huge files that change every day.

For the vast majority of situations, we recommend using a remote backup solution. Many people use both solutions. They have a local backup and a remote backup. The local backup can be used to more quickly restore data in case of hard drive failure or accidental deletion. And for critical data, it’s a good idea to have two backup solutions, just to make sure, because a backup solution can actually fail.

To summarize:

  • Your average residential user should just use remote backup.
  • Home businesses or residential users who have critical data and want to minimize downtime should have both a local backup to external hard drive and remote backup.
  • Businesses are a bit more complicated but, in general, should have both a local and remote backup solution.

For remote backup, we recommend Carbonite for home users, home business, and small businesses that do not have a Windows Server. Click here for more information on Carbonite or to purchase it.

For businesses with a Windows Server, we recommend CrashPlanPro. Click here for more information or to purchase CrashPlanPro.

For local backups, we recommend purchasing a Western Digital external hard drive. We don’t recommend using the backup software built-in to Windows. Instead, we recommend you use the free version of Backupper. Backupper does a complete image backup of your computer. If you prefer only to back up critical files, then we recommend using EaseUS Todo Backup.

Whether you use Backupper or Todo Backup, make sure you set it up to automatically back up every day.

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