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7 Surefire Computer Backup Strategies that Can Save Your Life

computer backupYou simply must backup your computer. It is not a matter of IF your hard drive will fail, it is merely a matter of WHEN. I highly recommend you backup EVERY week, as if you do anything less and you are simply asking for trouble.

The following strategies offer effective and fast strategies to backup your computer … and potentially save yourself a major hassle down the road.

I have to let you know that the price of external hard drive storage has dramatically dropped. It is now possible to purchase a terabyte (1000 gigabyte) drive for $75. This is from Western Digital and clearly one of the better manufacturers out there.

I purchased two of them for Mac from Best Buy that can easily be reformatted for a pc in a matter of minutes.

Strategy 1: Employ the Easiest Backup of All

I have been employing backup strategies for over two decades but I had never found a great automated piece of software. I would typically erase and recopy all my major folders on a monthly basis.

Rebit offers the easiest backup of all. You don't have to decide which files and folders to back up. The first time you plug in the drive, it backs up everything on your regular hard drive -- data, applications, even Windows.

I purchased this new software and was very impressed at how much of the hassle factor it removes. If you have a significant hard drive it might take overnight to back up your files, but after that all you have to do is plug it in occasionally and it will back up all the changed files.

Once a week is typically sufficient unless you add some new important files. This program really simplifies the process. Although Rebit sells hardware solutions and backup drives, you can easily purchase a large terabyte drive I mentioned above and install their software on the drive. The software is only about $25.

Strategy 2: Automate Your Backup, and Store It at a Safe Distance

A number of online backup services, such as Comodo and SpiderOak, are available. Mozy has versatile software and low price. Internet backup services share some inherent flaws, starting with their being horribly, horribly slow. In general, if you use online backup, consider finding another medium for your large media files.

Also consider cost. Though $5 per month per machine may sound cheap, with multiple systems the charges add up.

Strategy 3: Back Up the Whole Family on Your Home Network

If you connect several computers to one another and to the Internet through a router, buy a network-attached storage (NAS) drive -- a box containing one or more hard drives that you plug into your router via ethernet. Anyone on the network who has the right permission can access those hard drives. Besides performing large-scale backups, NAS drives can store photo, video, and music files, and you can access that content even from outside your network.

Strategy 4: Save Your Entertainment

If you don't back up your music, photos, and videos daily, you need to copy them to something other than your internal hard drive. DVD-Rs and DVD+Rs cost little and work well, but an external hard drive is faster and holds everything without swapping. Either option works, so decide based on how much data you need to safeguard and how patient you are.

Strategy 5: Prepare for the Big Disaster

If you have a system -- or disaster recovery -- backup, you can restore everything in one go. If your regular, daily backup program offers disaster recovery (as Rebit does), you have a system backup in place already. But Windows tends to get corrupted very slowly, so it's a good idea to create and set aside a permanent system backup when Windows is healthy. Rebit doesn't offer this feature.

You have two ways to back up an entire drive so that you can re­­store even Windows: cloning and imaging. Cloning involves transferring an exact copy of your main hard drive to another drive. CMS BounceBack Ultimate, also included with CMS ABS Plus hard-disk drives, is a popular cloning product. Imaging involves copying a drive's structure and contents into a compressed, but still very large, file on another drive. Aside from Rebit, the major commercial imaging programs available today -- Ghost, Macrium Reflect, and True Image -- all provide in­­cremental backups and versioning, and these features make them fully functional data- and disaster-backup programs.

Strategy 6: Store Items for the Long Haul

Your best bets among optical discs are relatively expensive archival discs such as Delkin's Archival Gold, Kodak's Gold Preservation, and MAM-A's Archive Gold. Another possibility is to burn a copy to Blu-ray Disc. Blu-ray doesn't yet enjoy the same reach that DVD and CD have, and it remains pricey. But Blu-ray far exceeds DVD and CD in capacity, and the format is gaining acceptance rapidly. Only Buffalo, LG, and Pioneer market Blu-ray burners today, but the LG Electronics NAS NB41 packs four drive bays and a Blu-ray Disc burner.

Strategy 7: Back Up the Backup

You should never have only one copy of anything, including your backup. Multiple backups add to your protection. A NAS drive such as the Synology DS209j permits you to back up your backup.

You can plug an external USB drive into the DS209j and back everything up on it. Taking this step is essential if you use the NAS drive to store shared media that is unavailable on your local PCs, but it's a good thing to do even if you're simply backing up the backup.

The MyBook 1 TB external hard drive has the absolute lowest price on a backup I have ever seen. 1000 Gigabyte drive for $70, delivered to your door! It is made for Mac but can easily be reformatted in a few minutes to work for PCs.

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