AT the beginning of the 21st century, too much personal and vulnerable data is available in a digital form on our PCs. Music, videos, pictures, personal documents, private and business mail contacts – everything is stored on hard disks and other media. Since the storage capacity has increased dramatically during the last years, we store all information on a single place for easier access. The computer is not only a machine anymore, it is our digital memory. Nobody wants to imagine what will happen if he loses all the stored data. In the worst case, this can ruin your whole business or erase all pictures of you and your family of the last years. The only protection mechanism is a regular computer backup. There are some computer users who follow their own strict plan for saving their personal data. They copy their most vulnerable data to a second hard drive or other media. But the majority of users do not perform backups regularly. Anyway, there are some highly specialized programs that help you to save your private data.
There are several programs available that can be used for that purpose. They differ drastically in price and functionality. There are also several freeware and open source programs. Most of the programs can be configured in a way that the backup is made fully automatic. In most cases you can specify a hard disk, folders or single files that should be stored safely. After the setup of your program, you must check regularly whether your program is working in the expected way. Do not trust any program until you are sure it works correctly.
Another important issue is the choice of the right storage medium for you backup. For most home users, a secondary (internal or external) hard disk is the best choice. Please, make sure that you chose a different hard disk and not a different partition on the same physical hard drive, otherwise you will use your data and the backup in case of a hardware failure. In addition, you can save very important data also on optical media like CDs or DVDs. There are also several online storage capacities available. In that case you will not lose your data even in the case of a fire at your office or home. Unfortunately, the risk of cyber attacks on your data has also increased. Therefore, you should encrypt your vulnerable data before online storage. For companies, advanced storage technologies are available like storage servers for the local network, or magnetic tape storage, or even tape robots.
Regular backups for your PC are absolutely mandatory. You can restore your system and your data in case of a hardware failure or software problem, e.g. virus contamination of your PC. The setup of a modern software suite will not last longer than 30 to 60 minutes. This is nothing compared to a total loss of your data. A good backup program is like a good insurance – it is good to have it in the case of emergency. The same way you protect your family with insurance, you should protect your data on an external storage medium.