How Often Do You Backup Your Computer?

backup-keyThere are several adages I have learned over the years with respect to computers.

  1. Save your work often. I hit the save key every time I get to a point in my work where I know I would be upset if that  work were to disappear.
  2. Backup your files. You should have multiple backup copies of important files.
  3. Murphy’s Law is in full force WRT computers. The most likely time for a computer to fail is when you need it the most.

Most people I know have multiple computers in their house. We have

Quantity Type Operating System
2 Laptop Windows 7
1 Desktop Windows 7
1 Desktop Xubuntu Linux 14.04
2 Mac Mini Mac OS X Snow Leopard
1 Tablet Android 4.4
1 Smartphone Android 4.3

The Windows computers send backups of all User files to the Linux server once a day. I don’t bother backing up the Mac Minis because their only function is to act as a video server. There are no user files on the Mac Minis. The Android tablet and smartphone data are stored in the Google cloud. And the Linux server backs itself up to a USB-mounted hard disk.

Because the backup data on the Linux server can be invaluable (at least to us), I keep two external backup disks of the data files. I additionally upload our family pictures that are stored on the Linux server to a box.com cloud account.

Finally, all our important documents, such as federal and state tax forms, are printed out and kept in a file cabinet.

Because I am a computer geek, I use a program called rsync to backup the Windows and Linux computers. Rsync can be told to copy only the changed parts of any files to another disk or computer. The Linux computer uses an additional program, called rsnapshot, to create daily incremental backups. The incremental backup system is set up to allow me to recover deleted or corrupted files for up to 3 months.

I know my backup system is overkill for most people, but you should at least backup your important files (files you would be upset if lost) to an external hard disk or thumb drive. Both Windows and Mac OS X come with backup programs called Windows Backup and Time Machine, respectively). If you do not have an external backup disk, give yourself an early Christmas present and purchase one. Make sure it has enough storage to hold everything on your computer hard disk. I see on amazon.com that 1-TB (terabyte) external hard disks cost around $60. A 5-TB external Seagate hard disk is $150. How do these prices compare to how much your data is worth?

Remember that Murphy’s Law is always waiting to take out  your valuable data at the most inopportune time. Don’t let it happen to you. Please backup your computer data.

When did you last backup your computer?


4 thoughts on “How Often Do You Backup Your Computer?

  1. I back-up my laptop weekly. Where we’re vulnerable though is my wife’s laptop. She backs up (or rather asks me to back up her laptop) maybe every 3-4 months. Somehow I know when the inevitable happens it’ll be my fault. 🙁

    1. Hi Kurt, I hear you on getting blamed for lack of backup data. That’s why I implemented our backup system from the PCs to the Linux server. Our Linux server runs 24/7. I have set up scheduled backup processes on the PCs that will run in the background once a day at 6:00 PM or whenever the PCs are turned on. The task priority is set to “low” so it doesn’t interfere with whatever the user is trying to do.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. This is such an important topic and reminder! My backup system is:

    :: I save all my files/docs (i.e. my lifeline) on a flash drive
    :: Once a week, on Fridays, I copy and paste all the flash drive files to a backup folder on my desktop with the date
    :: Once a week, on Fridays, I plug in my external hard drive and it does a backup of everything

    1. Hi Amanda, It sounds like you have a good backup process in place. Thanks for sharing.

      I think the main difficulty for most people is realizing the need to backup their files, and then taking the time to actually create the backups. That’s why I’ve automated our backups to make sure they get done every day.

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