Making a backup means, simply put, making a copy of all the data (or important data) residing on your computer (or on your iPhone / smartphone / mobile phone). In this article, we will talk about backing up computers.

What is backup?

Making a backup means, simply put, making a copy of all the data (or important data) residing on your computer (or on your iPhone / smartphone / mobile phone). In this article, we will talk about backing up computers.

Golden Rule: Always save important data in two physically different places.

Example: on the computer and on a stick, on the computer and on a CD, on two sticks, etc. The important thing is that the data does not reside only on a single medium. The reason is easy to say: electronic components can break, but they can also be lost or stolen. Furthermore, we may inadvertently delete data.

We must always ask ourselves: am I willing to lose this data? If the consequences of loss/loss/deletion of the data are acceptable, then you can save yourself the backup. In all other cases do it!

Data that only reside online

There is only one exception to this rule: documents that reside only on the network (i.e. Cloud services). Let’s take an example: online mail (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.). In this case, the data (i.e. the mail messages the mail) reside only in one place, i.e. the Google server (i.e. a Google computer).

The loss of data due to the fault of the manager (Google, in the example) is very unlikely: the data is copied by Google to different computers, with very refined security systems. In addition, a loss of data due to Google would cause the company (ie Google) to damage the image so large that your data is much more at heart than you are … Let’s imagine that Google loses the data of a few thousand users (very few, compared to the hundreds of millions of people who use Gmail): if the rumor spread, people would no longer trust the system, they would rely less on Google, and the damage to the company would be quantifiable in hundreds of millions ( if not billions!) of dollars.

My advice is: Use Cloud services as much as possible. In this way, you entrust the task of backing up your data to others (i.e. to specialized companies).

Let’s move on to the practical act: how do we make a backup? It depends on what you need to back up …

What is backup: backup small files

Profile: you mainly work with documents (a few photos, videos, etc.). Lawyers, accountants, professional firms, “not very multimedia” private users

Solution: use an online service (Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive)

How it works: take for example Dropbox (the other systems are similar). Once downloaded, the program creates a folder on your computer. Everything you put in that folder is synchronized online (i.e. carried in the cloud – in the Cloud) in your personal space (accessible only by you, with password).

Pro: free, I can access my files even when I am away from the computer or when the computer is off (because I access the Cloud – Internet, where my files have been synchronized). As soon as we edit a file it is synchronized. If your computer breaks we always have a recent version of the files. In addition, the programs create versions of the files. If we open a 10-page Word document, inadvertently delete 9 and save it, the system will back up the 1-page file. But, since the previous versions are available, we will be able to download the same document from the Cloud as it was 2 days before and solve the problem. If the computer breaks, after replacing the internal hard disk and reinstalling the system, we will install Dropbox which will synchronize the missing data (in practice it will download all your data,

Cons: it is not good for those who work with other people, it is not good for those who have to back up large files or medium-sized but frequently modified files, such as database: the system would clog the Internet line leaving your home in an attempt to synchronize the heavy modified files continuously.

The limited capacity of the Cloud (usually 2 / 10GB, to have more you have to pay)

Small files and sharing

If you have to share data with other people or between different computers there are no problems: if different people share the same Dropbox the data will synchronize between the different computers

Back up large files

Profile: works with many large files, but rarely modified (example: films, photos, music)

Solution: have an external hard disk (or install a second hard disk in your desktop computer) and use a backup program.

How does it work: after purchasing an external hard drive we connect it to the computer and install a backup program. We recommend Macrium Reflect Disk Imaging (free) to back up the entire computer or Cobian Backup (also free) to backup only specific files and folders. I point out that, if you use a program such as Macrium Reflect Disk Imaging (i.e. a program for the full backup of the disk), in case of failure of your computer’s hard disk (it happens, especially if it is a non-SSD hard disk) you can restore the computer exactly as it was when it was backed up (after replacing the internal hard disk), including programs and computer settings.

Pros: capacious, fast, it doesn’t depend on the Internet. Using the incremental or differential backup functions (not covered in this article) we can recover previous versions of the modified files.

Cons: you need a hard disk, the backup is not done immediately, but at regular intervals (even daily).

Note: for the same needs, but with data to be backed up less than 64Gb, a stick can be used instead of the external hard disk

Large and shared files

What is backup sharing? If you have to share data between different people or between different computers we recommend a NAS (i.e. a hard disk attached to your home/office network and not to a computer, accessible from any computer on the network – or from some computers with the appropriate credentials ).

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