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The Importance of System Backups

in Computers, Technology

Over the past day or so I have spent a fair amount of time piecing back together my home computer system (at least one of them, I have a veritable cornucopia of systems). This system is very important in that it is the center of my computing universe, in that it holds a great deal of important data, so after resurrecting the system I will dole out a little bit of home spun home computing advice, about the importance of backups.

This is ENIAC the Computer My Dad Programmed. Backups? On this?

First and foremost, ensure you have backups of your data and your system. This is crucial to any and all of your systems, if you don’t have backups (and hopefully they can restore as well) you will have to rebuild a dead system from scratch (and lose your personal settings).

  • Back up your system image onto another disk, on your system (preferably external, but not on the same disk as your operating system is on). Make sure your backups are working as well (check your logs).
  • If you have important data, back this information up or make it safe in some fashion. Copy the data onto another disk, another system, onto a network server or have a home Network Access Storage box (NAS). Make sure your back ups are secure, but again, make sure this back up is running as well.
  • This will also protect you from Virus’ and Ransomware too.

Create an operating system rescue disk (depending on what OS you are running) or keep the original Operating System disks you used to install the system (or the ones that came when you bought the system). These are essential in repairing your system as well. If you threw these out, you will need to find them or recreate them (or simply buy a new system).

Have all the Serial Numbers for your: Operating System, Anti Virus System, and all Software that you bought. These are essential as well if you have to recover after a partial system failure (yes this happens as well).

Ensure your system is running System Optimization is running to defragment your disks and check for errors as well.

What Do You Really Need

Finally, maybe what you need is a Guy (or Gal) who really loves futzing around with technology that can come over and help you set all of this up. I used to be “the Guy” for a few people in terms of helping them with technology, but I think now I am mostly just “the Guy” for my family’s computers, but that is fine as well.

 

{ 12 comments }

  • Paul T May 1, 2013, 8:28 AM

    A couple of other things to remember:

    Multiple copies – Don’t move files to an external hard drive (with it being the only copy). The external drive can fail too, taking your precious data with it. External hard drives should be a second (or third) copy of your data.

    Offsite backups – A basement flood or house fire can destroy your computer, and backups. Keep a copy of the data at work / friend’s house / in the cloud. If your main computer and offsite copy are destroyed by the same event, then your backups are the last thing you need to worry about 🙂

    Test your backups – The moment you need them isn’t the time to find out your backups don’t work.

    Focus on the data – Everything else is replaceable (Operating system, software). Protect the important data first (pictures, irreplaceable documents, videos, license keys).

    Reply
  • Mike Carlson April 26, 2013, 6:23 AM

    With the constant changing and upgrading of technology these days, sometimes it is really hard to keep up. Anyway, these days, I usually have backup on my data using Dropbox or sugarsync so as not to regret when files from my computers are deleted.

    Reply
  • Matt April 24, 2013, 11:59 AM

    Over the past few years I’ve moved off of using full desktop solutions at home over to laptops with most of our critical data in the cloud. Essentially I found that most of the stuff I tried diligently to back up could be recovered or gotten back somehow. So a diligent backup setup proves to be time consuming and not needed. But thats in my situation only. I’ll just keep crossing my fingers that I don’t end up needing a full hd recovery.

    Reply
    • bigcajunman April 24, 2013, 1:19 PM

      If all you need to worry about is restoring your working environment (and not your user data) you should be OK if you have an OS recovery or install disk, and all the install media for your needed utilities (i.e. office, etc.,)

      Reply
  • Susan April 24, 2013, 11:15 AM

    Great post! I’m keeping it for future reference. Over the years, I’ve tried to find this exact information in an easy to follow format and by jove! you’ve done it. Now I can relax knowing that I just have to do a new system image (I do it once a year, along with a full backup once a month with incremental backups in between). Everything else is in place. Thanks!

    Reply
    • bigcajunman April 24, 2013, 1:19 PM

      Well, don’t hold me responsible if something goes wrong too!! I would be diligent with your backups.

      Reply
  • Katy April 24, 2013, 9:28 AM

    …and now I’m backing up my files on the external hard drive. Thanks for the reminder!

    (I’ve had 2 laptop crashes, requiring rebuilds from scratch…..I hate that…good thing I have a boring setup with not a lot of additional programs)

    Reply
    • bigcajunman April 24, 2013, 1:20 PM

      OK, so I have done something useful today, that’s a good thing.

      Reply
  • Bet Crooks April 24, 2013, 8:15 AM

    My husband gets a lot of calls to help when disaster strikes. One thing we’ve noticed is how few people back up their email, especially their email address book. It only takes a couple of seconds but they never think about it. Then their computer almost always fails when they are in the middle of organizing some large event by email…..It always reminds me to come home and back up our own systems again!

    Good luck with the Restore. The tweaking is (almost) always a pain.

    Reply
    • bigcajunman April 24, 2013, 8:22 AM

      Surprisingly relatively straight forward, however, my faith in SSD’s is a little shaken.

      Reply
  • LifeInsuranceCanada.com April 24, 2013, 6:29 AM

    That seems like a lot of work, I think I’ll pass :).

    The first key to backups is that they must be automated. If you have to do anything by hand, it’ll eventually fail.

    The second key is, as they say, “backups are not archives!”. don’t just keep one backup, you should keep something of a timeline of backups. Because sure as sugar you’ll delete something then not realize for 3 weeks that you want it back. At that point your backup from last night doesn’t have the file either. The second problem is that if you only have the most recent copy of the backup, when you go to restore something, you’ll find the backup didn’t work for some reason.

    It’s worth spending some time setting up a robust backup plan and then checking it every six months or so. It really helps for those “delete *.*” moments.

    Reply
    • bigcajunman April 24, 2013, 8:06 AM

      And test your Restore too, backups are fine, but if Restore fails, you are in trouble

      Reply

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