Backups: why, how and what should you be backing up?

Do you backup your stuff? No…? Or maybe you only backup your photos? Well maybe you should reconsider…

Why should you bother with backups?
Backups protect you from data loss in the event of software or hardware failure on your computer. If things are backed up, it’s really easy for you (or your friendly IT company) to restore everything when something goes wrong. It’s also really handy if you get a new computer – you can get everything you need set up for use easily.

But you’re careful with your computer, so surely the chances of doing something to cause data loss are slim?
Unfortunately, no. There are also factors outside of your control that can result in you losing data… Your device could be lost, stolen or accidentally damaged, or a virus could cause your hard drive to crash and make it (and everything stored on it) unreadable. Ransomware could also result in a loss of data – this is a virus built to access your computer, your files are locked or stolen until you pay the creator a ‘ransom’ to return your access, which may never happen despite the fact you have paid up. (For more information on viruses and how to prevent them, check out our post on Antivirus.) There is also the potential for updates released by manufacturers for graphics cards/ motherboards etc, or even Windows updates, which don’t install properly or end up corrupted during the download process to cause operating systems to crash and data to become unreadable.

Ok, so you do need a backup solution. How can you backup your stuff?
As with most technology related things nowadays, there are numerous options available, so you can choose what is best for you…

Cloud storage is becoming ever more popular for backing up and it’s not surprising. Not only are there many different providers out there, but it is so easy to automatically back everything up. All users with Windows 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 have ‘OneDrive’ built in which can give you 5GB of free cloud storage or you can pay a monthly fee if you exceed that amount. You can set OneDrive to backup automatically and even tell it which folders you want backing up and which you don’t. Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud are similar and work really well on both computers and mobile devices. Other cloud storage providers include; Livedrive, Amazon, Knowhow and Dropbox. The real beauty of cloud storage is the ability to access your stuff from anywhere with a device and internet connection – no need to carry your hard drive around with you! Cloud storage is also pretty handy if you want to save space and you don’t want your devices/ discs containing your backups lying around. Any backup takes time, but cloud backups will be very dependent on the speed of your internet connection and the size of the files you are backing up, so you might need to be patient if you have a lot of files or live in a rural area with slow internet speeds!

External devices such as external hard drives and flash drives/ memory sticks can be used for backups, and though you have an additional copy of your data in case of an incident, it’s worth noting that as mechanical devices, there is still potential for the devices to malfunction. (We would recommend not using a memory stick as your sole backup device – if you prefer this method, an external hard drive is preferable.)

Discs, including Blu-Ray (25GB), DVD (4.7GB) and CD (700MB) are recommended as a long term physical back-up solution. Discs kept in the right conditions have a potential 200 year life, but in the wrong conditions risk corrosion, physical damage, UV damage and chemical reactions. Blu-Ray discs burn quickest and hold more data, but as Blu-Ray drives are currently only found in higher-end PCs, DVDs might be the better option. If you’re looking for DVDs with a much higher storage capacity, make sure you get Dual Layer DVDs – you get around double the storage of a standard DVD. CDs will only hold approximately 20 songs and is generally all they are used for now. You’ll definitely need to be prepared for waiting when backing up to discs, which can take a bit of time.

What should you backup?
Well, a general rule to live by is to backup anything and everything you couldn’t do without. Photos of family and holiday snaps are all precious and can’t be replaced if something went wrong with your device. Ok, so there’s a small chance you could still find them on memory cards if they haven’t been deleted or formatted, but is it really worth the risk? Documents can often be overlooked when considering backups, but as they are often only saved to ‘My Documents’ on one computer; it’s really important to back them up, too. Once you’ve finished that document, it’s definitely worth doing more than just clicking ‘Save’. We know your music collection is likely to take up loads of storage if you backed it all up… Luckily, music that you have bought and downloaded from places such as; iTunes, Google Play and the Amazon Marketplace can usually be re-downloaded from where you bought it from. But if you’ve digitized your CD collection and thrown the CDs, it might be worth creating a backup if you’d be lost without it.

Hopefully, you’re now considering stepping up your backup game. If you’d like a bit more advice, our technicians will happily help you find the best solution for you and will get you up and running. Pop in to our Glastonbury shop for a chat or contact us to ensure your data is safely backed up and stored.

The PCs PCs team can be found at Unit 1 Abbey Mews Arcade, 56 High Street, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 9DY or contacted on or 01458 833900.

Posted in News and Info.