I’ve seen many small businesses that don’t realise the best way to make backup copies of their computer data.
There are a few general problems with backups:
- Backup technologies keep changing… So using a tape backup might have been ok about 5 – 10 years ago, but not now.
- Some backup systems need manual input.
- Some backup systems store data in special / propriety formats… Making it difficult to restore without the appropriate software (which can be difficult to find during a computer breakdown).
- Backups are often stored together with the computers being backed up… Something like a fire can destroy the original data, and all the backups.
- Backups are rarely tested to see if they actually copy what they should.
With current technology, its easier to do correct backups, which are both easy to restore, and “fire proof”. This article doesn’t go into securing your data, but that can be added as an extra step.
Here is how to do it:
- Buy at least 3 external USB drives. Ideally, get at least a 320Gb external drives. 2.5″ drives are best, as they are lightweight, and use only 1 USB cable for both power and data. I like the seagate freeagent Go drives, but I avoid the supplied backup software.
- Download the free syncback backup software. Syncback will backup / synchronise your data, yet you can restore the data on any pc with a USB port.
- Install and setup syncback to sync the data between your pc and the external drive. How to do this depends on your specific circumstances and requirements.
- With 3 drives (A,B,C), rotate and backup the drives (daily), so that one drive is always off-site (eg at home).
- Every month or so, you can just double-click on the icon for the external USB drive, and navigate to a folder that you know contains recently changed files… open some of these files, and make sure they are as recent as you think they are.
If syncback is setup correctly, then the first backup can take a while (as the whole PC can be backed up at this time), but subsequent backups should only take 1 or 2 minutes, as only recently modified files will get copied.
Its also worthwhile excluding certain files from being backed up (eg hiberfil.sys and pagefile.sys).
I’ll get into the details of setting up syncback in a future post.