Imagine everything on your computer – pictures, home videos, resume’s, business documents, contacts. If you don’t have a backup plan for all of that information, you could be at risk of losing it all at any moment. The majority of computer users will deal with the reality of losing their data at some point in their lifetime, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

How often Should you Backup?

Someone who is using a computer mostly for gaming or just for surfing the web most likely won’t need to back up their computer on a regular basis. Someone that uses their computer for storing work or schoolwork related documents may want to consider backing up their computer on a weekly or daily basis.

What Do you need to backup?

Sure you will need to backup the obvious data files, such as your pictures, videos and Word and Excel documents, but there are others to consider as well. Everything in your settings, all the shortcuts that you have stored on your Desktop, and all of your applications can be backed up as well. It takes a computer anywhere between 1-5 days to get it back up and running after a hard drive failure, but backing up those extra items will get you up and running as smoothly as possible.

What Do You Use to Backup

Data can be backed up on a variety of hardware that range wildly in price and size. You can use something as simple as a USB drive will work for small amounts of data, and it is fine if you don’t store much on your computer. The average computer user will need some sort of external hard drive, which can store sometimes more information than your computer can. Home servers also work for backing up your data, but it is a secondary function and shouldn’t be the only purpose that you will use it for.

Some computers like those made by Apple can come with a service pre-installed called Time Machine, which automatically takes backups of the information you store on your computer. They will store your information safe and secure in servers far away, and you won’t have to worry about data backup yourself. Talk with the manufacturer of your computer first about the details of your preinstalled service if your computer came with one.

Additional Recommendations

Once you attempt to back everything up, make sure that it is in fact backed up and you have access to the information. If you have regular backups scheduled, be sure that they are in fact working and are keeping up to date versions of your files. Because files are often lost during natural disasters, keep a secondary backup in a separate location from where your computer is located. Finally, remember that all things digital have a lifespan. Whether you’re storing your valuable pictures on CD’s or disk drives, it’s important to know that they have a specified shelf life. Transfer that information to a new location every now and then to insure that you don’t lose those files. Additionally, the devices that you transfer information to in the future will be smaller, less expensive, and will be much smaller.

 is a computer expert that works on computers on a daily basis. He works with the Data Recovery Group on helping people backup and recover their important data.