One of the nasty things that can happen to a computer user is data loss. It can happen in many ways. From inadvertent deletion of files, through the action of malicious software, to physical damage to your computer. One way to protect yourself against this unpleasant situation is to regularly back up files that we care about. How to back up and why is it so important?
Why should you back up?
The loss of programs that can be re-downloaded from the internet at any time will not be too severe. However, we also store many files that we create on our computer, which you may not be able to recover or recreate. Photos and videos, private or company documents, application data, e.g. invoices.
The disk may be damaged
Electronic devices are not reliable. Although a hard disk drive usually gives signals before it is permanently damaged, it may well break down day by day, resulting in the irretrievable loss of our data.
In addition, ultra-slim laptops with an SSD hard disk integrated with the motherboard are becoming increasingly popular on the market. Failure of such a computer can prevent access to data, even though the disk itself and data on it have not been damaged.
Viruses and encryption programs
Inattention, carelessness or computer viruses and disk encryption programs can also contribute to file deletion. Just open an email attachment of unknown origin or click on the suspicious link. The result may be the installation of malware on your computer, which may cause you to lose access to our data.
The solution to the problem of irretrievable data loss is trivial, although many users do not use it. All you need is a regular data backup to an external drive or to the cloud to be able to restore our documents in an emergency.
Secure data, or copying rules
Manually copying files to an external storage medium is the easiest way to create a data backup. This solution usually works when we want to secure a small amount of data, several key files.
However, it is worth to properly protect such a disk, e.g. by using file encryption in Windows 10 or by choosing a USB stick with the appropriate encryption function.
For more data and systematic copying, it’s best to use dedicated software. Windows 10 users can try the functions built into the system. There are also many applications available on the internet, from simple to very advanced, free or for a fee. One of the advantages can be, for example, copy encryption, i.e. protection against unauthorized access.
Types of backups
Backups can be created in several ways and this is not a very difficult task. There are several types of backups, including full, incremental and differential backup.
- Full copy – the so-called mirror, each time it performs a complete backup of all selected files and folders, or even the entire disk and system.
- Incremental and differential backup – they back up only newly added and changed files. The difference is that the incremental copy stores file added and changed since the last any copy was created, while the differential copy since the last complete copy was created.
Which copy should you choose?
The choice of the right method depends on the amount of data to be archived, the frequency of making copies, how often the data changes or how quickly it arrives, and where and how to create a copy.
A full copy will work if there is a small amount of data, or when it is made on devices that provide very fast copying, e.g. to a second disk in the computer or an external USB 3.0 disk. An incremental backup will check if new data arrives quickly or is changed frequently, and when archiving is done via a network – e.g. to a NAS or to the cloud.
How to backup data and what equipment to choose?
How to backup your data? This can be done in many ways, and there will be both software and hardware solutions. Let’s look at both.
Copies should be made on a second disk – a second disk in the computer or an external disk – possibly using a CD or DVD burner.
Depending on the size of the data being copied, it can be a pen drive, an external hard disk with a capacity of up to 500GB to 4TB, or a CD, DVD – if our computer is equipped with an optical drive.
It is worth noting that, compared to a USB stick, 2.5 “USB portable drives offer a better price-performance ratio, and are also easy and convenient to use. You can also put them in a drawer or safe.
For fast data storage, SSD will be best, offering three or four times faster write speed than a magnetic disk. However, such discs are much more expensive.
What to backup on?
- Second disk in the computer(HDD disk, SSD disk, hybrid disk)
- External hard drive
- Pen drive
How much space for backup?
We decide for ourselves how much space we need for data backup. When choosing a capacity, it’s a good idea to have at least three full copies on your disk. If the total data we want to protect are e.g. 500GB, it will be optimal to choose a 2TB disk.
If you plan to store larger amounts of data, you can opt for sets equipped with two hard drives.
Disks with a copy function
An interesting option is external disks created just for backup. Usually, special software is attached to the disk, allowing you to make a copy with a few clicks, and the process can also be done from the phone application.
You can also find external drives with Wi-Fi and a special button, which when pressed creates a backup – a very convenient way to protect your data.
A more professional, but also a costly solution will be buying an additional device that will act as a backup server. In this case, however, it is worth using the help of special software.
The data backup program can make copies only at the user’s request, or do it automatically in real-time. It can allow you to save and encrypt data on an external storage medium.
What backup program?
For backups, you can use MiniTool ShadowMaker. The program usually works in an intelligent way. It only copies files that have been created or changed since the last backup, and that is in the folders we have designated. As a result, making copies with MiniTool ShadowMaker takes a relatively short time.
Copy to the cloud
An option worth mentioning at the end is the free Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive. A cloud in which we can store several gigabytes of files, which we can access from any device that supports the mentioned program.
A similar function can be performed by a paid service (subscription) available on the Internet, which after installing dedicated software will automatically create a copy of selected data in the cloud.