Backing up files is important. In the event of hard drive failure or some inexplicable server error, you will still have a copy of all your files.

The following steps are quick and easy for backing up data and files stored in your server, internet-connected computers and laptops.

Determine which files you want to back up. You’ll want to back up data that’s critical to what you’re doing, such as your customer lists and financial data if you run a small business or your current manuscript if you’re a writer. The amount of data you are backing up also may determine which medium you back up data to.

Find an appropriate storage device. You will need a device which is capable of storing all of the data you need to back up. This should be at least twice the size of the hard drive you are trying to back up. An external hard drive is the best option, and these are easy to find.

Decide on the backup medium. There are a number of storage media to which you can back up data. Which one you choose depends on the amount and nature of the data you are backing up and what you will do with the backed up data.

  • Flash drives, also known as thumb or keychain drives, plug into your computer’s USB port.They are useful for backing up your most critical files and transferring them between computers.
  • Recordable CD-ROM and DVD-ROM discs. They must be formatted, or “burned,” using a drive capable of writing to them; most recent computers have drives that can write both to CD-ROM and DVD-ROM discs. They are best suited for backing up data for archival purposes.
  • Portable external hard drives.They are convenient for backing up large amounts of data on a regular basis; many come pre-installed with data backup software.
  • Online backup systems where data is backed up onto a remote server.Online backup is offered by companies that specialize in the service or by Internet service providers as part of their service package. The amount of backup capacity available depends on the provider and how much server space you can afford to buy. An example of this is the Cloud.

Choose a backup method. Data can be backed up using one of several methods:

  • Copying and pasting the data.This is the simplest way and can be used when backing up. Usually, this method is used for backing up a small number of files.
  • Your computer’s backup utility program. Most operating systems include a backup utility, such as Backup in Windows or Time Machine in Mac OS.
  • A third-party backup utility program. You can purchase backup utility software from other companies, which is designed to work with any of the backup media listed above. Some freeware and shareware backup utility programs are available as well.

Plan the backup schedule. To be effective, data backups must be performed regularly. You can back up data manually or set up an automatic backup schedule with a backup utility program to back up data on a daily or weekly basis. The point we want to stress is, you MUST back up data timely and regularly. There is no such thing as backing up too much. Prevention is still better than cure.

Perform the backup. Remember, no matter how often you schedule backups, you must still have the backup medium connected to your computer at the scheduled time to perform the backup.