Well its that time of year again. World backup day is almost upon us, and my aim is to get you motivated and ready to backup your computers, phones, pics, documents. Whatever it is and where ever it may be located. What would you do if you lost those work files or memories that are of utmost importance to you?

We all own or have access to so many devices and services and this list may prompt you to rethink how, where and why to backup as I guarantee there is something you totally forgot about.

What files to backup or sync elsewhere

  • Email, contacts and calendar – most services these days like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com or business services using in-house Exchange services or Office365 are synced to servers. Some of these services do allow the export of email, contacts and calendars. If not, you can read, view and export them using Microsoft outlook or windows mail.
  • Pics and videos – Whilst most people use the My Pictures and My videos default folders in windows, we have all edited some of these pictures, scanned images or created images for websites as example and these installed programs may have different default save locations. Find where they may be hidden.
  • Documents – The same as above, My Documents are the common location however also remember the scanned pdf’s. Where did the installed software save it to?
  • Browser Bookmarks – Browsers these days sync online or with plugins or extensions sync with each competitors’ browser, eg chrome to firefox but not many of us do have browsers signed in so you can easily export the bookmarks for safe keeping.
  • Passwords – not the ideal document to have in Microsoft Word or Excel format but there are many encrypted password tools available with export functions. Don’t forget this important file. If you want more tips on securing your password read this story “Welcome the new year with new more secure passwords” and be safer online.
  • Software – Not all software that you have purchased or downloaded in the past is easy to find again and download. Or becomes unavailable as a next version is and that doesn’t run on your pc for some reason. Keep a copy for no matter what reason.
  • Complete system – There are a myriad of software developers out there that have system or partition backup functionality. This can save you in the event of a complete system crash like hard drive failure, virus, theft of device etc. The system image can be restored to a new computer or opened retrieving any files like any of the above list.
  • Websites – Do you have a personal or company website? No matter what system you use, be it WordPress, Joomla or the host level CPanel you can back this up and download, save to an alternate location. The company that set up the site might cease operation or same with the hosting company. This could save you a great deal of money in new setup and design charges.

Why to backup

Most of these are out of our control but can happen at any time when least expected.

  • Hardware failure (Hard drive or solid state drive)
  • Theft
  • Natural events/disaster – Fire, Flood, Lightning Strike (power surge)
  • User error – accidental move or delete
  • Virus or ransomware
  • Accidents – Dropped or damaged laptop or device

How to backup

  • Manual copy – If there isn’t much data or just one folder that you need backed up then just manually copying (Drag and drop, Copy and Paste) to the location of your choice as explained in the section below.
  • Windows Backup – Windows 7, 8 & 10 have a system image and file backup option built in. This can be setup with schedules or to a specific USB drive when it is plugged in.
  • Third Party software & service – Companies like EaseUS, AOMIE, Macrium Reflect, Cloudberry or Carbonite are all reputable and have Free, home, business and enterprise versions for use or purchase. All giving the option to make a partition image, system image, scheduled backups, incremental and differential backups and to pretty much any location of your choice.

Backup types

There are a few backup types as listed above. A quick explanation of them should help you make sure you get the right back set for your needs.

  • Image – An exact copy of an entire drive or partition (defined region) enabling full system recovery with boot information possible.
  • Full backup – A copy of all the selected folders and files are backed up
  • Incremental backup – A copy of data that has changed since the last backup whether incremental or full backup.
  • Differential backup – A copy of data that has changed or has been added to since the last full backup.

Where to backup to

This section is nearly the most important as you need to think a lot of “what if’s” like house fire, burglary or surges during lightning storm so think offsite also. Eg if your backup drive is up to date but in the next room and you have a fire then sorry it will be gone.

  • DVD, USB Flash or USB Hard Drive – All of the above “how to backup” suggestions can be done to these drives. USB hard drive is a good solution for large amounts of data and cheap.
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS) – These are great devices for large amounts of storage and aren’t huge like the traditional server and with much more functionality and services that can be added to it. However, from the backup point of view mirrored drives are options, so if one fails you don’t lose your data. Put a new drive in the failed drives place and they sync. For offsite then automated sync to cloud services can also be done. Or plug USB drive in and take offsite after backup complete. Also think of this as your own cloud service. You can access this anywhere in the world and its on your premises.
  • Cloud Services – Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive, Google Drive etc offer up to 15gb of free space. Their software will automatically sync your files or you can manually copy to these services. If you use more than one of these services then you can opt for software to manage these like Multcloud or Air Explorer. Both the software and cloud services are constantly changing with new features and data limits.
  • Online backup services – Carbonite, Backblaze, Acronis etc provide the software and the cloud space. They tend to charge for the space you occupy with your backup and different for personal or business services.

Along with “where to backup to”, this bit of advice would have to also be the most important. Its good that you are doing backups and “anything” is better than “nothing”. But have you checked that they work? After all, things go wrong and that is why we do backups. Double check the backup files can be accessed, that image file can be opened or will restore back and be of real value to you.

If everything works then automate it and regularly check it. If you ever need to recover and it works, I guarantee you will feel a great sense of relief.

Telco Solutions have a great Disaster recovery guide for businesses if you are in need of additional resources.

World Backup Day is on the 31st of March each year – http://www.worldbackupday.com/en/