Backup your computer

It is said there are two categories of computer users; those who have never lost any data and those who back up their files regularly. Think about that for a second before you read on.

If you fall into the first category, you are very lucky. It's not really a question of if you will lose data but when it will happen. Perhaps your data isn't important enough. All those treasured pictures you have stored; the reams of correspondence and other paperwork; the emails you have going back years; the settings and history of a game you have been playing forever, they are all just sitting there and will be there forever, right? The fact is, anything can happen at any time. Your hard disk could suddenly fail without warning; sadly, you could be a victim of a burglary or maybe suffer a disastrous fire.

Maybe you have Microsoft OneDrive securing your documents and pictures and perhaps you subscribe to Office 365 so your email is relatively secure but that won't help you much if your hard disk suddenly fails or you need to retrieve a file you deleted 6 months ago.

The fact is, there is absolutely no substitute for a good disaster recovery plan.

This article will take a little while for you to read and make some decisions, additionally installing and configuring the software will also take a little time but the peace of mind you will have from knowing your data is safe is worth the effort but it's your data and if your data isn't important to you then feel free to continue on as you are.

True system image backup and restore functionality is no longer part of the Windows operating system so we recommend you either obtain and install a reliable backup software package or subscribe to a reputable online backup service.

  1. Using reliable backup software.
  2. Subscribe to an online backup service.
Using reliable and proven backup software

There are plenty of software packages available, and some are even free but the package we always recommend is Acronis True Image. Using this software, you can backup your computer so in the event of a complete disaster, a restore operation can be completed in just a few clicks and it can keep multiple versions of the backups so you can go back in time to files or folders deleted long ago. Also included are ransomware blocker and a disk cloning tool so should you want to replace a failing hard disk or replace an existing hard disk with a larger or faster one you can do so quickly and simply without having to reinstall the operating system and all your programs and settings. Note you have to purchase a licence for each computer you are installing it on.

Acronis True Image has two basic offerings; Subscription and Perpetual.

Subscription
As its name suggests, this is an annual subscription service for which you get an upgrade for new features and enhancements as new versions are released; cloud based storage for backups to give you complete protection including access to any file from anywhere on any device; full email, online chat and phone support.
Perpetual
This is a low-cost option which provides upgrades for new features and enhancements for one year; full local backups to internal or external hard drives; network attached storage; networked computers etc; email and online chat support but no phone support.

A trial version is available so you can simply download and install the software and use it for up to 30 days. You will need to create an account if you wish to purchase it and get a product key. Once installed, purchased and configured, if you are running the subscription version you are good to go.

If you are running the perpetual licenced version there is one other thing you need to think about, where to store your backups. You should definitely store your backups on an external hard drive, network attached storage or a networked computer etc. to protect against disk failure on the protected computer. Also, you should purchase an additional external hard drive to keep backups outside your premises to protect against fire, burglary etc. By having two external hard drives and rotating them periodically you will be protecting your data to best effect at minimal cost.

Once all that is done, you should check you backups regularly. In an ideal world, that would mean actually running a full restore onto a blank hard drive to ensure that the backup is valid however that is probably out of the question for most users. At the very least you should check the backup to ensure you can restore files and folders. Do this by restoring to an alternative location, not the original location then open the files to check they have been restored intact.

Subscribe to an online backup service

There are many online backup services available. In addition to Acronis True Image mentioned above, services such as IDrive, Carbonite, SOS Online Backup, Backblaze to name but a few. We will stick with Acronis True Image as our recommendation for its ease of use, superior support and affordability but each of the services mentioned offers comprehensive features.

If you haven't got backup software installed and are not confident installing and configuring it or you have any other problems with your computer, you can always contact us for details of our support services.