Demo On How To Backup Your Files And Media

In this article I will show you a demo of how I like to backup all my files and digital media to an external hard drive. I will point you to some free good quality tools you can use to automate the whole process. By the end of this article you will know how to put in place an effective local backup plan so you can sleep well at night knowing that you have covered your bases.

For local Backups, you will need one or two external hard hard drives for your storage medium. When using two hard drives, you can rotate between like one for Wednesday and another for Friday’s backup and keep them in different locations. In the computer world, this is known as adding redundancy. While redundancy is a scary word where employment is concerned, it is encouraged in the computer world.

Protect Your Computer Files

To simplify and automate the process, I like to use a free open source utility called Cobian Backup. Download and install Cobian Backup . I have been using this utility for a few years already. It is a great utility with a huge following. It can make verbatim copies of your files but where compression is applied, it uses industry standard zip format and not any proprietary format so your assured that you can always open your backups. You can also encrypt your backups when needed and it has a host of other features. Did I mention it was free ?

After installing, you then need to add a new backup task on Cobian Backup. This backup task is simply a list of instructions telling the backup program, what to backup, where to backup to, when to backup, whether to apply any compression or encryption etc. I like to create one task for Documents, and one each for Music,  Pictures, Videos etc. Once this is done, you only need to ensure that your hard disk is plugged and available for Cobian Backup and you can pretty much forget about it.

For local backups, I prefer not to apply compression and just make verbatim copies as local storage  space is really quite cheap. Not applying compression will make backups and restores much faster.

Demo : How To Create A Backup Task With Cobian Backup



Once a backup task has been setup, you can plug your hard drive and run the task manually by selecting it and clicking the “Run Task” button. Run one task at a time or select several task and run them all in one go. If your hard disk or NAS is always connected, just let it run on schedule. It uses minimum resources and you’ll hardly know its running.

Avoid leaving the hard disk plugged in to the computer when finished. Where possible, try to take your backup drive off-site for safekeeping. For example if you backed up the office computer, bring the hard disk to another office for safekeeping under lock and key. Or bring it home if its your data and company policy permits.

Note : Depending on how diligent you are at keeping it off-site, you may be still exposed to theft and natural disasters. Also, even if you set up automatic schedules on your backup utility, you must ensure that you plug in your external drive before the backup starts. For a more full proof backup strategy, consider supplementing your local backups with online backups for some of your essential data and media.

Using Cobian Backup With An Online Storage Service

If you have signed up with an online storage service. You can use Cobian Backup with your online storage service to create a remote or offsite backup. Simply set your destination folder in your backup task to point to your sync folder. When Cobian creates the backup in your sync folder, the sync service uploads it to your online storage service via the Internet.

IMPORTANT TIP : Some syncing services will only start when you are logged on to the computer. If you set a schedule for a backup to start at say midnight and you log off the computer at 5pm, the backup will run at midnight but the sync to your online storage server may not start until you log on to the computer again the next morning. So if you like the sync to take place immediately, you must check with your online service provider if there is a tweak to allow the service to run while you are logged off. Or consider using an online backup service like Mozy that will run even if you log-off your computer.

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Related :
How To Plan A Backup Strategy For Your Digital Content
What is Online Storage And Why Do We Need It ?
How to Pick An Online Storage Service