Yes. You do need to back up your computer data. It really is necessary.
A computer can fail many ways; usually with no warning whatsoever. If you don’t have an automatic backup setup now, you need to get one going right away. Please, don’t put it off.
When I get a call for a broken computer, it is way too common, and sometimes very sad, to be asked if the data can be saved because there is no recent, up to date backup. If you’ve used your computer for a few years, you probably have more irreplaceable stuff on it than you realize. Photos, of course, are especially painful to lose. If they were all on your hard drive, and your drive has failed – your photos are, pretty much, gone. Not just photos, though. Tax records, documents for your business, school papers – all of that stuff that is only on your computer, if it not backed up, is vulnerable to sudden, permanent loss.
To be clear, when a computer dies, the hard drive may still work just fine. But, often enough, the rest of the computer is OK and it is the hard drive itself that has failed. Also; it may be technically possible to retrieve data from a failed hard drive – but this is expensive, time consuming, and is never guaranteed to work. The drive needs to be sent away to specialist services and in a week or so and several hundred dollars later, you’ll find out what they have saved from your drive.
Overall, it is just a whole lot easier and much less expensive to keep constant, automatic backups of your hard drive.
How to back up your computer data:
Some users will have a flash drive or an external drive that they plug in once in a while and manually drag-and-drop copies of important files. But this once in a while approach is not really safe. It’s just too easy to skip a back up – and of course that is when trouble strikes.
To be truly data safe, you need a regular, automatic back up. That might be with an external drive plugged into your computer, but my recommendation these days is to use an automatic online backup service. In the cloud. Set it, and pretty much forget it. I’ve seen a few working online backup services and the one that comes across as the clear leader in ease to set up and use is Carbonite (carbonite.com). (NOTE: I have no relationship with Carbonite or any other online backup service, except that Carbonite is what we use at home for our main machines.) Carbonite has a free 15-day trial and only takes about 5-10 minutes to download and setup. If you decide to keep it after the trial, the subscription is $5 per month.
A “local” external hard drive is one fixed price, of course. Somewhere around $70 and up, depending on the capacity of the drive and brand name. With Windows 8 and with Macintosh computers, automatic data backup software comes with the computer. For other versions of Windows the provided software isn’t as easy or dependable. Most brand-name external drives come with backup software, but you may also want to look at commercial software from Norton or McAfee (the antivirus people). Local backup for Macs is very easy. Period. Local backup for Windows computers more complicated. In both cases, Mac or Windows, online backup is more reliable and very easy to set up.
And, yes, it is necessary. Really.
As always, if I can help with questions about, or problems with your computers, including doing automatic backups, don’t hesitate to give me a call: Mike Pepper ~ Pawling Computer Guy, 845-855-5824.