There is an array of backup solutions available today. As you can imagine, backup needs can be just as diverse as anything else. In this article, we will present an understanding of performing a data backup, help you consider technology and options you have, and some additional, advanced capabilities you may be looking for.
Backing up can encompass a myriad of variables; such variables may be…is it just data you want to back up? Do you want to make an image of your entire computer for disaster recovery? You also need to consider the amount of space you have for backup, and how to perform the backup.
There are basically three different types of backup, which include full, incremental, and differential. A full backup will create an image of your PC. This would make it possible to restore your entire computer in case of a catastrophic disaster. All backup applications will support one or all of these methods, though be limited in overall scope.
Of the other two backup types, incremental and differential, incremental is one of the likely the choice for most backup software available today. The difference between the two is how far back the backup goals. For instance, incremental backups backup everything that has changed since the last backup. A differential backup, only backs up those files which have changed in some form or fashion since your last full backup.
As you can imagine, and incremental or differential backup can take much longer to restore. However, most of the time, you’re looking to only restore a specific file or possibly a directory or to. It is not as if you need to restore your entire disk.
Whether you’re looking to set up a backup plan for home files or for small business use, the considerations are about equal. I feel that your first consideration should be budget. What do you have to spend on creating your backup plan? Are you going to do it yourself, or have a service?
For example, if you have a very low budget, you may opt to do something more along the lines of manual backups utilizing free utilities. In this particular case, your only cost would then be some form of external storage unit, such as an external hard drive.
Until Windows 7, the built-in backup program was very limited. Yes, it could allow you to create a backup sufficient to handle disasters, but had few options and minimal customization.
If you would rather have something more automatic, you will probably have to spend money on a good piece of backup software. This isn’t something that old break the bank, you can get away with spending as little as thirty dollars for good software which has good customer service contact and technical support. Don’t underestimate having good computer tech support. Such tech support, if it is free, can help you in setting up a good backup or to help you in a restoration situation.
Once you’ve determined how you’re going to handle your backups, then you need to decide where to back it up to. As mentioned previously, you could go with an externally connected hard drive to your computer. This has a number of options in itself; it has traditional USB 2.0, or pending on your systems capability, you could utilize USB 3.0, or ESATA connections. Another option, would be to utilize either an internal wireless connection, or to back up online.
You need to also consider when doing these backups will you be back in up files which may presently be in use? If using Windows, it is fairly common that those files will be backed up with most software applications available today.
What type of backup do you need? You want to do an occasional full backup of your system, or would you like to do what I do, and that is occasionally make a full image of my system plus do an additional daily incremental backup of my documents and most utilized data on my computer. Having full backups allow you to do simple restore in case you’re hard drive becomes inaccessible due to various security concerns, such as viruses or spyware.
You may also want to consider hiring a general IT consulting firm to assist in implementing your plan. This type of computer service can be found with most computer firms. To view rates for Geek Squad, check out our article on the subject: Geek Squad Rates Review.
Advanced Backup Features
Some of the more advanced capabilities of backup software may or may not be necessary, pending the type of backup you determined from reading the above. Let’s examine a few of these features to see if it makes sense incorporating into your backup plan.
Compression: You will find that most backup software programs, free and paid versions, will have some form of compression options available to you. This really only comes into play with regards to the amount of space you have for backing up, or if you intend to do a manual backup with a manual upload of your files to somewhere online for safe keeping.
File Filtering: This option allows you to filter those files you wish to include, or file types you wish to exclude from your backup. For example, this type of filtering may allow you to skip temporary files, junk files, system files, hidden files and folders, or type of file by extension.
Encryption: If you will be utilizing an online service or would like to have more security for your backups, you should consider backup applications which allow you to encrypt data. For most of us, simply having the ability to password protect our backups should be sufficient, and you will find this feature available in most backup programs today.