Backing Up: Losing Data Is Not An Option

There are countless things in life that we should do regularly but don’t.  Think about the life lessons that your parents have given you during your formative and your teen years.  You should clean your room/apartment on a regular basis.  Change your sheets at least once a week.  Clean out your closet after each semester.  The list could go on and on.  Yet did your mom also talk about backing up your PC data regularly?  Well maybe not your mom – it doesn’t matter who says it, you need to back up your PC.  That is, unless it doesn’t matter to you if you lose all the data that is in your hard drive.

What does backing up really mean?

Backing up data is basically making another copy of your data and keeping that copy in a safe place in case something happens.  This is actually an old way of keeping information safe.  Think way back when you were a kid.  Your parents probably had copies of important documents such your birth certificate.  That is the essence of backing up.

When it comes to computer data, however, you cannot merely print out everything you have on file.  What you need to do is create a virtual copy of what is in your hard drive.  In case your hard drive crashes, gets stolen, or whatever, you can restore your system easily using the back up copy that you have. 

Now that is why it is important to regularly back up your data.  I am sure that you use your computer very often – all college students do!  Now imagine nearing the end of the semester and having tons of research papers due in a week or two.  Say that you have spent weeks gathering research materials and they are all in your PC.  Maybe you’re half way done with the paper.  Then the “impossible” happens – your hard drive fails.  You lose all that hard work.  What do you do? 
If you backed up your data on a regular basis, then you would have no problems.  If not, then you are dead.

Ways of Backing Up Data

There are many ways of backing up data.  For our purposes, I will just outline the ones which are most feasible for college students like us.

Flash Drives

You see them everywhere, sometimes even hanging like a pendant from a person’s neck.  I would honestly and seriously be lost without my flash disk.  It is the simplest way to save copies of your files – just plug that flash disk into the USB port and you’re all set.  It used to be that flash disks had limited data storage capacities.  Today though, you can get 4 gigabytes or even more, for very reasonable prices.  Of course, it could be easy to misplace a flash disk, too.

CD-R/RW and DVDs

Another common way to back up data is to buy writable or rewritable CDs or DVDs.  Use your CD or DVD writer to burn your important data onto the discs and then store them in a safe place.  These materials have a long shelf life but you do need to update your data from time to time and save them onto new discs, just to be sure.  CDs have less than 1 gigabyte of storage while DVDs can hold more, up to 8 gigabytes.  The best thing is that you can buy them for really cheap prices almost anywhere.

External Hard Drives

It used to be that hard drives cost a lot of money.  Today, though, they are becoming more and more affordable.  More than that, hard drives are becoming larger and larger in capacity.  You can actually store everything on your PC on another hard drive.

Online Back Up

Another way would be to use an online back up facility.  Of course, some of them charge fees for the service.  There are some which have free terms, though, like Mozy.com. 

So which form of back should you use?  It really depends on your needs and your preferences.  Personally, I prefer the flash disk for easy access but would rather use another hard drive for long term storage.  Then again, each person has his own reasons for choosing one or the other.  The important thing is that you do back up your data.

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