Home Backup Software: Backup Files, Folders and Image Drive Backup
Some operating systems offer free backup utilities; however, they usually lack important functionality and ease of use. For example, Windows XP for several years had no integrated tool to burn CD/DVD disks which strongly limited the Windows Backup utility. And the very concept of backup implies that reserve copies of important data are to stored offsite, so it can be protected from hardware failures, natural disasters, theft, etc. Thatís why most people prefer third party programs which are more convenient, have more features and are better supported.
Below is a rough plan how to set up an automated backup of your data. It is aimed to help in considering backup strategies, and also gives general overview of features that a backup software should have.
- Decide how much data you need to back up. Write out all important things stored on your computer that are critical for your life and work, and that you wouldnít like to lose. This may include Outlook email messages, important documents, applications and settings, system registry, etc.
- Divide your data into categories by updatability. For data that is rarely renewed, e.g. for a photo archive a single backup stored on DVD can be enough. Constantly accessed and modified data, e.g. work reports, is more subject to accidental deletion or corruption and requires more frequent and flexible strategies.
- Estimate the ratios between total sizes of files and supposed sizes of changes. To save time and disk space, you may want to not repeat the whole backup procedure, but back up only new and changed files. The estimation of the part of the new data will help you to decide which type of backup (full, incremental, differential, etc.) fits your strategy the best.
- Choose appropriate storage for each strategy. Such things as operating system and applications usually donít require frequent backups, and even if lost, can be restored from zero. Therefore, a good practice will be storing backups on DVD disks or another hard drive (depending on available hardware). For data of higher importance (personal data, business files and other), you may want to choose a storage that will provide highest protection and security, such as remote FTP or online server.
- Review the results and define repetition of full backup for each strategy. Different storage media involved in your backups provide different error probabilities. As with each incremental backup the chance of backup corruption increases, each backup strategy should include periodical full backup.
Functionality of a good backup software must deliver a way to work out appropriate strategies for each type of data on your PC. Besides types of data, supported storage media and flexible scheduling, it must also feature data management functions (such as backup compression, encryption, etc.) and provide a comprehensible way to restore your data in case of any problem
See also: Enterprise Data Backup, Backup Registry, Backup Mobile