Computer Data Backup

Regular backups are your best defense against data loss.

Computer Data BackupWhen setting up a new computer system or software application is the ideal time to decide how the data will be backed up. It is human nature if something is too difficult or time consuming it won't get done, at least not as often as it should. Having an easy, reliable backup process in place will help reduce your chances of serious data loss.

Besides installing a backup device and software, organizing your data can make backups easier and less time consuming.


Data Organization

It is easy accept an application's default setting for the location on the hard disk for data storage, but this can result in data directories and files being mixed in with other application directories and files. For backup purposes it is preferable to keep data files separate from other files.

Many applications give users the option of specifying a directory or directories for data files. Taking advantage of this can make data backup simpler because it is only the data that needs backing up on a regular basis. Should a hard drive fail application files can always be restored from the original source. The unique data files created with an application can not.

One option is to create a second drive partition on your hard disk - drive C for the operating system and applications and drive D for data. Many types of data files such as word processing, web files, spread sheets, and databases are comparatively small. Drive D could be a considerably smaller partition than drive C. Other data types such as high resolution photos, or movie files take up considerably more room. Drive D should be sized larger for these types of data file.

Using separate data directories on drive D can help keep the data organized and make data restoration easier should that ever become necessary. A directory for accounting data, another for letters, another for web pages, and so forth.

An alternative to a separate partition is to use a separate data directory on drive C. Some windows applications default to the directory "My Documents" as a place to store data files. You can create your data directories as sub-directories of this directory, or you can create a separate directory perhaps named "Data".

Either way by keeping all of your data together and separate from application files makes setting up software to back up only the data files easier, faster, and less likely to miss files. This also makes it easier to find out how much data you have to backup which in turn will determine what type of data device you need to backup your data.


Data Backup Devices

Until recently tape drives were the standard for large backup jobs. Tape drives are still available, but may not be the fastest or most cost effective. Which device is right for you will depend in part on how much data you have to back up. Click on the links to see what is currently available.

CD Read/Write Drives - 640 to 700 MB. The first larger capacity alternative to tape drives. Now much faster, but limited in size. External CD drives - Internal CD drives

DVD Read/Write Drives - 4.5 to 8.5 GB for dual layer. Substantially more capacity than CD drives and just as easy to move data from computer to computer.

Hard Drives - 20 GB to 400 GB and increasing in size. Can be used to make an exact duplicate of not only of data but also of operating system and application files including boot sectors with the right software.

External Hard Drives - Can be moved easily from computer to computer.

Internal Hard Drives - Second drive in the computer case.

Zip Drives - 100 MB to 750 MB. Both internal and external models. Easily move data from computer to computer.

Tape Drives - Traditional backup devices, still serviceable, but no longer the only large capacity type of backup device. Dat Tape Drives - Travan Tape Drives


Data Recovery

Failure to do regular data backups can lead to lost data when a hard disk fails. Often the data is still present on the drive, but can not be retrieved in the normal fashion. If the data appears to be lost and it is important enough, then the only recourse is to attempt data recovery.


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