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Backup Awareness Month – Methods of Backup

Hello everyone! As you know, or have gleaned from my previous posts, I have declared January “Backup Awareness Month”. We have covered: (1) identifying what software you use that requires data backup, and (2) how to organize your file structure in Windows XP and Windows 7, in order to make your backup easy to do.

As a refresher, if you have all of your data organized in one spot, such as sub-folders under My Documents, it is easy to tell your backup program to simply backup the My Documents folder and all of it’s sub folders.

But now how do we back up My Documents? I have two methods that I am going to recommend and discuss. Other methods exist, but I am only going to focus on two.

(1) Backup your data to an external USB hard drive. These types of hard drives are extremely popular, and have become quite affordable, and compact as well. They used to be the size of a hard back book, and weighed more than a book. Some of them now fit in the palm of your hand and weight next to nothing. Storage capacity has become incredibly large as well. The storage capacity can go anywhere from 100 GB up to a few terabytes or more. Suffice it to say, you can buy external hard drives that can back up your computer many times over and still have room for growth. External USB backup drives, depending on the capacity, can run anywhere from $60 to several hundred. Costco is a great place to purchase them.

Most external backup drives come with their own backup program, and they are all different. Once you plug in the drive, you can go to that drive in Windows Explore and run the setup program and follow the prompts to create a backup. Additionally, you can simply copy and paste your My Documents folder from your computer’s internal hard drive to the external backup drive.

However, when I started this series of articles on Backup Awareness, I made the statement that 95% of the people I know do not back up their computers. Even with an external hard drive to backup to, a lot of people are not diligent about making sure they go through the steps to set up the backup program and make sure it runs on a regular basis. I know because I used to be one of those people. For all of you who want your data backed up but really do not want to think about it, method 2 is for you.

(2) Method two is what is commonly known as an “online backup” method. Various companies out there offer these services, and they have become extremely affordable for the home user. The one I will recommend is Carbonite, at

With Carbonite, you go to their website and either sign up for a free trial, or purchase the software. From there you download a small piece of software onto your computer, specify what you want to back up, and let Carbonite do the work. The data you specify is copied to your account on the Carbonite servers. From that point on, when you use a file on your computer, it is backed up on the Carbonite servers right away. It is a true real-time backup method. If your computer crashes, data retrieval is easy, once your computer is back up and running. All data is encrypted twice before it leaves your computer for your Carbonite account. What is even better, is Carbonite is extremely affordable. You can backup up your data for $54.95 per year.

Hopefully, one of these two methods will work for you and your lifestyle. I am always available to assist with any of your backup projects.

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