It’s important to back up my PC. To the point of paranoia even. We are working in a knowledge base environment. Without business information we can’t make an informed decision. We need data to make our analysis, without it we may end up with paralysis (of course there is the other extreme ending with analysis paralysis but that’s a different story). It is like the fog of war, without information we do not know which direction to act.
That’s why I back up my PC in as many as 2 copies. I came across a website where a company does data recovery and they have seen so many cases of thrashed PC from their clients that they get sort of paranoid in when they make their own backup data plan. They make as many as 4 backup data stored in separate locations! Actually that is a good idea too and I follow their paranoia in my backup data plan.
Just about last week, my superior who never heeded my call to make backup data of his laptop, faced the unenviable situation. He dropped his notebook and the end result was a dead hard drive. He just lost four years of office data since the time he took over the managerial role of this office branch. It is very prohibitive to recover the data, easily several thousand dollars just to recover the precious data. Depending on your desperation and need to recover the data and your perceived value of the data, you just may have to pay for it. However being the miser he is, he may balance being without the years of data with parting the cold hard cash for the data recovery.
He could have avoided some of the situation if he just listened. But boss being boss and you know as they said: Rule number one, the boss is always right; and if they are wrong see rule number one. Well he was really right this time!
I found a number of cost effective ways to back up my PC, and each has their pros and cons but combined together with multiple copies, I think I would have covered most contingencies with my backup data plan against data loss.
Free Online Backup to do Outlook Backup
First, let’s talk about Outlook backup of the emails. You can even consider this a free online backup, although not perfect it works for me anyway. If your email is obtain via POP3 protocol you can consider a free online backup using Gmail. Gmail is free for all, and it has ample storage space and you could use it like a free backup email server service. The last I checked I have used up about 15% of storage for the almost two years worth of incoming emails. You read that right, incoming only. What do you expect? It is after all, free. You can still make your Outlook backup emails 100%, just need a little work from your part. To make a 100% Outlook back, just BCC every outgoing emails and there you have it. Even if you didn’t take the trouble, many email correspondence do come back to you when your recipient replies to you with your messages appended. But if you want to be sure you have a copy of your outgoing correspondence just BCC to your Gmail account. Nothing to it!
To pull your email messages from your server, Gmail has a POP3 feature to pull emails from your POP3 email account. Just make sure that when your Outlook pulls the email, it is set to leave the messages in the email server for a number of days so that Gmail got a chance to pull in the messages before it gets deleted from the server. And what happens if it becomes full? Just set up another Gmail account for your Outlook backup.
You could also try it on other webmail account that has a large storage space provided as long as they got the ability to POP3 your email server automatically. Consider this as a free backup email server service. Works for me.
Backup Hard Drive
Now this one is a little trickier, and unlikely to get it done for free. To backup hard drive, you will need to invest in some form of hardware, be it a thumbdrive or external hard disk storage. Depending on the amount of data that you have that requires backup will determine the choice of your data backup systems.
If your files are basically documents, spreadsheets and powerpoint slides, these are unlikely to take up much storage space. So you could opt for a USB drive for your data backup systems plan. A capacity of 8GB or 16GB should do very nicely without blowing a hole in your pocket.
However don’t just simply buy any thumb drive. Choose a flash drive that has build in back up features. Transcend Storejet Elite software as well as the Sandisk CruzerSync and various other forms of software for synchronization or backup would do just fine to do your backup hard drive.
On the other hand if your backup data includes heavy duty files like photos and videos, the flash drive do not have sufficient capacity. This is where you will have to consider using an external hard drive for your data backup systems. It may cost more than a thumb drive but on the gigabyte to dollar ratio, external hard drive is much cheaper.
Almost any brand of hard drive has some form of data backup software. You just need to study what each of the hard drive software can do. Since I have a Transcend hard drive the Storejet software is quite good. I also have WD MyBook External Hard Drive and it came with WD Anywhere software that not only back up hard drive data to the MyBook, but allows me to backup my PC data to any portable storage media.
Backup Hard Drive Data to DVD Media
And finally, to complete your data backup systems, the good old DVD burner makes for a good long term backup data media. Now with the Blue Ray disc you now have more capacity than ever before to do a more permanent archive of your data backup.
Of course do note that some online circles mentioned that CD/DVD/BlueRay has a storage shelf life of about 5 years, perhaps longer if you can keep it in a suitable storage environment away from heat and light sources especially UV light that will damage the media. Well I kept my photo backup on 2 sets of DVD, one in my house and another in a safe deposit box. Well the old photos are priceless though they may not be works of art, but the sentimental value cannot be truly measured!
And of course a current set of photos in my hard drive as well as in the portable external hard disk for reviewing when I want to relive my past history. Call me paranoid, but I did lose some photos and data from hard disk crashes before and now much the wiser for it. Tell me at one point or another you may have heard that your friend has lost precious photos of their family? Right, you can never have not enough of data backup system and method like me who backup my PC in myriad of ways so do develop a data backup systems of your own or copy that of mine as above.
You won’t regret it when one day your main PC crashed and you know you followed the above advise when you will say, “I backup my PC” with the above data backup systems and that saved the day!
Just a note, a recent conversation with my company IT guy, he said that the HQ data backup systems uses tape drives to back up the important transaction data and central file servers but does not backup individual user PC. So you can’t rely on your company to back up your own data, so you still need to set up your own personal data backup system like how I backup my PC whether for home or office.