How to Back Up Your Computer Files Easy and Fast
XP, Apple, PC, Windows with a CD, External Drive, or the Cloud
When It's time to backup your computer you want a method that's easy, fast and reliable, whether you're using XP, Apple, PC, or Windows. Bad things can happen to your computer: hardware failure, virus infection, theft, or disasters. Your important files, documents, videos, music and photos will be gone, too. Keep them safe by backing up your computer. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Your first step for a computer backup is to select the folders you want to backup. and estimate their combined file size. Then you'll know what backup technique is right for you. Here's how to proceed.
The Absolutely Easiest Way to Back Up Your Computer Files With Email
If you have a small number of files to back up, the fast and easy way to backup is to send an email to yourself with the files as attachments. Your data will remain safe online with your email provider until you need it again. If your email service has limits on the number and size of attachments, use as many emails as necessary. Over time, your email service may delete old emails for lack of activity, so be aware of their policy.
Backup Your Computer Files to DVDs or CDs
A safe, fast, easy and inexpensive way to back up your computer files is to copy them to a blank CD or DVD. Most computers, like PC and Apple, include a writable CD/DVD drive, and burning your files to a disk is a fast and easy backup strategy. When you insert a blank disk in the drive, Internet Explorer will open a writable CD folder in My Computer, so you can select and copy files to the new folder. To finish the backup, click the CD drive D: and click "Write these files to the CD". While the computer is busy backing up files, you will not want to use it for other work.
Each CD-R holds only 700 megabytes, and a DVD will hold 8 gigabytes of your data, about 2,000 songs, so you may need more than one for computer backup. Of course, there are disadvantages to disk backup. CDs and DVDs have a limited shelf life. Storage capacity on a disk is much smaller than an extermal drive, and the backup process is slow. Each time you back up your computer, you'll require new disks. You may want to keep your computer backups in an off-site location for additional security.
Back Up Your Computer Files to a USB Flash Drive
Handy dandy flash drives plug into the USB port to back up your computer files. If you have a mid-size collection of files, the flash drive comes in handy. It's tiny and portable, very inexpensive and easy to use to backup your computer and restore the data files later. Flash drives are multipurpose devices, often used to transport data from computer to computer. SanDisk is a familiar brand for Windows PC or Apple.
Back Up Your Computer Files Online in the Cloud
Online data storage sites provide fast and easy computer backup in the cloud. They will keep your data safe and accessible, sites like MozyHome, MyPCBackup and Dropbox. This is cloud computing at its best. Services like these offer 2 gigabytes of data storage for free, but you are likely to need more. Mozy offers a monthly plan with unlimited data storage for $5. You can backup and restore your computer files using their software, and access it with your browser. Online data storage provides a secure site off-location. In addition, the backup data plans are scalable, as your data needs increase.
Software to Back Up Your Apple Computer
The Apple Mac comes with a backup program called Time Machine, while PCs come with Windows Backup. Just insert your blank disk into the CD/DVD drive and the software will spring to life. These backup applications work with most of the common hardware devices, like NAS, Flash Drives, and External Drives.
External Hard Drives for Heavy-Duty Computer Backup
Back up your computer files to an external hard drive that connects through the USB port. Brands for Apple and Windows PC include LaCie and Seagate. They come with easy-to-use software to copy your files. Or, you can use any other backup software, like Apple's Time Machine, or Windows Backup. You can get an external drive with one terabyte of storage for less than $100. One terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, more than enough file backup storage for most users.
Network Attached Storage (NAS) for Computer Backups
For heavy-duty computer backups, look at NAS devices, or Network Attached Storage. Often used by businesses, NAS is an independent external box that connects to computers via an office network or your Wi-Fi at home. A NAS box will automatically back up several computers every night. It comes with 500 gigabytes of expandable storage and its own software. You'll access it from an icon on your computer desktop. Cost starts at $100. Brands include Buffalo, Netgear and HP SmartMedia Server.
Back Up Your Computer Files With RAID Arrays
Another device for easy computer backups is RAID, an acronym that stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. Computers factory-equipped with RAID come with extra internal disk drives. Copies of your data are made or "mirrored" automatically. RAID arrays can also be purchased as an external device. Yes, RAID backups come in handy if your computer hard drive fails. But if your computer is infected with a virus, so will be the RAID backup.
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