Backing up your computer

A backup is a copy of a file that is stored in a separate location from the original. Backing up files on your computer helps to protect them from being permanently lost or changed in the event of accident or virus attack. Also, you can rely on the backup data to recover files when accidents happen.

Important files to backup

  • Emails
  • Class related documents
  • Important departmental documents
  • Personal pictures
  • Personal music collections
  • Software drivers and patches you downloaded
  • Personalized settings
  • Web browser bookmarks

Common options for backup

Type
Pros
Cons
Additional Information
External Hard Drive
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Most come pre-packaged with backup software
  • Smaller and more easily portable
  • Have to manually use it as a backup if not always plugged into the computer
Online File Storage
  • Either free or very inexpensive
  • Allows for files to be shared from computer-to-computer
  • Easy access from anywhere
  • Less storage space compared to offline storage
  • Some will have limits on the type of files you can backup
  • Backup is only as fast as your network connection
USB Flash Drives
  • Easily portable and relatively inexpensive
  • Many now come equipped with backup software
  • Less storage space compared to external hard drive
  • Easy to lose
CDs and DVDs
  • Inexpensive way to create extra copies of important files
  • Limited space for large amounts of data
  • Have to manually use it as a backup – not automatic

Backup interval

How often you back up your files depends on the number of files you create or edit and how often you access them. If you use your computer frequently and save a lot of files, then back up often. You can also schedule an automatic backup so you don’t have to manually backup files. You can choose to have your files backed up daily, weekly, or monthly. You can also back up manually between automatic backups.

Backup utilities available on the different operating systems

Mac:

Windows:

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