Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to Back Up Your Computer Files Automatically

The theme of the most recent issue of Resume Writers' Digest is disaster recovery. Probably the one disaster ALL of us have experienced as a resume writer is the loss of data. Whether it's losing the file you were working on when the power blinked or, as has happened to me on at least three occasions, the loss of data when your computer dies. I know I'm not the only one, because I see your anguish on Facebook when it happens to you!

Even if your primary computer cost several thousand dollars, you probably place a much higher value on the data that's actually stored on computer. Since we conduct the transactions of our resume business on our computers (not to mention financial records, family photographs and other items that are now stored solely on our desktop and laptop computers), a single catastrophic failure of your computer's disk drive could result in an incredible loss.

You can protect against this type of scenario by periodically backing up your data to an external hard drive. Some people prefer this over backing up their data and documents online and sending their data into "the cloud." There's something reassuring about knowing that your data is backed up to an external drive that only you have access to.

But while backing up our data is something that we know we should be doing regularly, chances are we're not actually doing a good enough job at it. Fortunately, there are some ways to automatically back up your computer files to an external hard drive, reducing the chance that you will suffer any significant data loss.

Before you can set up your backup process, you'll need an external hard drive. In recent years, the price of hard drives has dropped significantly, so you should be able to purchase a high capacity drive on practically any budget.

Because the backup process is not something you will be performing every day, don't be overly concerned with data transfer speeds. For most people it's simply not necessary to have the absolute fastest hard drive for backup purposes. You should, however, try to get the largest hard drive you can afford. The more space you have for backup storage, the better.

In order to have your backups occur automatically, you will want to have software that manages the process for you. Having to do manual backups of all your files on a weekly basis is a sure way to get frustrated and stop doing backups altogether.

If your computer runs Windows 7, then you already have a software solution available to you -- the "backup and restore" feature. You can begin the process on Windows 7 by entering yourControl Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, then selecting Backup and Restore. The Backup and Restore function lets you choose the folders of your computer that will be backed up, and schedule the process to occur automatically. Some earlier versions of the Windows operating system also have similar functions.

Some Windows users might not be satisfied with this solution, however, and want something with more options and features. There are other options available, including software packages that actually synchronize -- in real time -- all of the files and folders that you want to back up. This means that you always have backup copies of all of your important data in files. (If you use a backup solution that backs up only on a twice monthly basis, for example, you risk losing any new data since the date of the last backup.)

If you have a Mac like I do, you can use Time Machine to set and schedule your backups. Find information how to do that here.

You can always refine your backup process later, but the important thing is to get a schedule in place and get into the habit of protecting your important data.

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