We all know that we should back up our system as soon as possible. But if you're like most of us, you will get to it tomorrow. The problem is that tomorrow rarely ever comes until you experience a serious computer failure and then itís too late.
Taking the time to backup your data or entire hard drive is not as painstaking as it may seem. And the rewards of doing so will be great should your system experience a crash.
WINDOWS AND OTHER BACKUP SOFTWARE
If you have Windows XP you will need to install the new Windows backup utility from the Windows XP cdrom. Just place the WinXP cdrom in your cdrom drive and locate the line D:VALEADDMSFTNTBACKUP.
Here you see the first letter as D but if your optical drive has a different drive letter, exchange the D with your drive's letter. To install the utility, click on the file named NTBackup.msi.
The backup utility will be installed to the system tools group. Click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Backup. There is a neat wizard that will walk you through the backup process.
WinXP's backup utility will backup your entire hard drive and will make a recovery disk to boot.
One neat third party backup software you can try is NewTech InfoSystems at http://www.ntius.com where you can download their trial version and put it to use for 30 days. And if itís your cup of tea, the full version will run you about $79.95
INCREMENTAL OR DIFFERENTIAL BACKUPS
You should back up your entire hard drive when you perform your first backup. After that it is best to perform an Incremental backup. This type of backup only allows you to backup files that have changed since your last performed backup.
Differential Backups copy changed files that have been added since you last did your entire backup. This type of backup is more detailed than incremental backups and is easier to restore.
BACKUP STORAGE DEVICES
You can backup your files on cdroms and have the files compressed to save both space and backup time. WinXP will compress folders, subfolders, and files during backup.
You can purchase compression software that will do the same, saving you cdrom storage space. The compressed files are automatically uncompressed once they are restored onto your hard drive.
You can also use a second hard drive as your backup storage device. We use two backup hard drives to be certain Ultimate PC Repair is up and running 24/7.
You can either purchase an internal hard drive and install it to your ide cable, or you may want to purchase an external hard drive that connects to your Universal Serial Bus or USB Port.
The advantage of the external drives is that they have very large amounts of storage space, transfer data fast, and can be moved from your computer to any other computer.
We use the Western Digital 170 Gigabyte External Hard Drive and we simply bounce it around to either one of our four computers with the greatest of ease.
USING ONLINE BACKUP SERVICES
You may also consider online services for backing up your data. If you lose all your backup data, say due to a natural disaster such as a flood, your online data is right there waiting for you.
Another advantage of online backups is that you can access, upload, or download your data from any location. It is best to use high speed internet access if you're considering online data storage.
One such online backup service is Istorage located at http://www.iomega.com/istorage and charges from $2.49 a month for 50MBs to $17.95 a month for a big 1,000MBs of storage.
Or you can check out FilesAnywhere located at the url http://www.filesanywhere.com
Still another online service to try is CapSure located at http://www.capsure.com
Backup your system now in one way or another if you have not done so. If you have critical data that you simply cannot do without, take the time to invest in a backup device or one of the many online backup services.
Stop and perform those backups as soon as possible. You will be thankful you did should something go wrong with your computer. Itís always better to be safe than sorry.
Otis F. Cooper is the author of the award winning PC Super Pack, the Computer Training By Video course. For hundreds more free PC repair tips, sign up for his bi-monthly newsletter and learn the PC free at http://www.ultimatepcrepair.com