“My computer makes a funny noise and won’t start... all my files and photos are okay – aren’t they?”
I cannot tell you the number of times we have heard similar queries to this, and sometimes the answer is not the one people want to hear! Most of the data on your computer is stored on the hard drive. The hard drive is a sensitive mechanical device which records information magnetically onto a moving disk.
These can fail very easily and without warning so if you don’t have a copy of your important files, you could risk losing the data altogether; all those irreplaceable photographs, treasured music collections or scans of important documents. Recovering the data from a damaged drive is an expensive business costing upwards of £300, even into the thousands, it isn’t guaranteed that you will obtain a total recall. However, there are several ways to back up your data depending on your requirements:
AN External Hard Drive
These often come with software that will enable you to choose which information you would like to back up and how often. They can be set to run at the same time every day and can be set up to record changes only. However, these backups are only as reliable as the hard drive and whilst very cost-effective, they hugely differ in quality and reliability. This being said, a couple of quality external hard-drives are a reliable way of backing up your important files.
USB Memory Stick
This is a small USB stick which allows you to copy smaller quantities of information. It is a great way to move information from one computer to another but are generally much smaller than dedicated backup drives and are usually as reliable as the price, which is not that great.
Sometimes called ‘cloud storage’ you can upload your data to the internet. The simplest online backup is a fixed amount of storage that gives you space on a server. Some paid for services offer software that looks for changes daily and uploads them for you. The initial upload can be very tedious and time consuming as it is done via your broadband connection. The free online backups will provide limited space and if you have a lot of data you wish to protect you will need to pay a monthly charge for more space. Prices start from £5 per month for 1Gb of storage and is generally one of the safest forms of backup. This is because the online backup provider not only takes a copy of the files you choose, but also backs-up the backups to make sure that your restore media is not compromised. Remember, you do get what you pay for so how much do you value your files?