Last month we discussed
the location of your data and some of the places that Microsoft and the
other companies like to store it. We also discussed the fact that if you
wanted to backup your data, you would need to find it. The next logical
step is to make things easier on you and make sure that everything that
you do is stored in the same folder to make it easier to find when you
do your backups. Hopefully, some of you took a look at the many locations
of your data and consolidated them to one central location.
This month I would like to look at some of the options that you have
to get your data backed up. As we discussed last month, you will need to
make a decision as to what you would like to back up before you can decide
what device you need to perform the job. If you have made the decision
to do a full backup, you will need a device that will hold the entire contents
of your system. In order to do this you will need to know how big your
hard drive is. You can find this out by right clicking on your C drive
in Windows Explorer and then clicking on Properties. This will give you
a pie chart of the drive showing used space, free space and total capacity.
Your backup should be able to handle at least the used space but preferably
the total capacity of the drive.
A tape drive is going to be the best choice for a full system backup.
You can buy a Seagate internal IDE 10gb/20gb drive for about $300. This
drive will backup 10 gigabytes of data up to 20 gigabytes with compression.
The drive comes with one tape and some generic backup software. Extra tapes
will be about $40 each.
For those of you that just need to backup your data, there are a number
of options that are available. The size of the data is still going to be
a determining factor in which option you should choose. Since you have
all moved all of your data to one main folder, all you will need to do
is right click on the folder in Windows Explorer to find out the size of
the data. As an example, my documents folder is about 400 megabytes. This
is not bad considering that 100 megabytes is my Outlook pst files.
My data would be a good candidate for the CDRW method of backing up.
A CDROM will hold about 650 megabytes of data in an uncompressed form.
My 400 megabyte document folder would compress to about 200 megabytes so
that would leave plenty of room for any future growth in the folder. You
can buy a rewritable CDROM drive for about $60 and the media will cost
a little over a dollar for each disk. These can be reused until you finalize
the CD. You could also use regular disks that are single use which can
be found on sale for about 10 cents per CD including a mail in rebate.
The choice would be yours but remember that the plain CDs are a single
use item. Burn it once and it is done.
If the CD method is not for you, there are still many options to explore.
The old faithful Zip disk comes in a 250 megabyte size that would be just
right for my data right now. The drive will cost you about $100 and the
disks are about $12. This may seem to be a little high compared to the
CD but it is a time tested solution. You would see the drive in your system
just like your main C drive. You would then be able to copy or use a backup
program to archive your data to any number of removable disks.
Another choice would be to add an external drive to your system. There
are a number of USB drive caddies available. Some of them sell for as little
as $40 for the case and you simply add a standard 3.5” drive. A 100 gigabyte
drive will cost you about $150. Others come with drives in assorted sizes
starting at about $200. This solution also would give you another drive
letter when the drive was attached in Windows. This would add the most
storage to your system as well as giving you an external location to backup
Take a look at the options that are available to you and make a choice
that you can live with and use on a regular basis. It is not going to do
any good to make the decision and then not follow through. You need to
make a plan and then follow through with the acquisition of the hardware
as well as actually doing the backups. Remember that if you are one of
the few who actually have a plan and follow it, you will probably never
need to recover from a disaster based on the inverse of Murphy’s Law.