August 27, 2007 HelpLine

Q) You mention the importance of backing up files frequently.  I’d like to share my solution to this “problem.” The cost of external drives has been going down as the size of these drives has been going up. (I recently purchased a 500 GB drive for about $200.) I do an automatic backup of my critical files to this external drive every day. I set the time for backup to 2:30 a.m., right after my automatic virus scan finishes. If your backup drive is big enough, you can do seven daily backups each week. That is, on Monday, back up your files to a file named Monday backup, on Tuesday, Tuesday backup, etc. Make sure that you’re overwriting your last backup (instead of appending). Of course, you need to check on this from time to time to make sure that it’s backing up. This is all assuming that you have Windows XP (I’m sorry, I don’t speak Mac).

Bill and Pat Beckett., Via the Internet

A) I realize this isn’t a question, but I thought it would be good to hear from readers about their backup solutions. You may be tired of my harping on backup, but the e-mails that I receive remind me constantly of how critical it is to back up your data.

Bill and Pat’s scenario is a good one. The only concern I have is that their backup is all on a single drive that’s always attached to the computer. If they were to get a power hit at 2:35 a.m., it’s possible that it could knock out both the internal AND the external drive, so they might lose all their data.

Granted, it can seem like no backup solution is perfect and that you must buy an endless amount of storage, but just a little redundancy could help. In Bill and Pat’s case, I’d recommend that they have two drives, one labeled Week 1 and one labeled Week 2. They would keep one drive connected for a week and then replace it with the other drive the following week. It would be even better if they would store one of those drives off-site for the week, but just having it disconnected from the computer (and the power outlet) would be great. It’s also a good idea to do a full backup every now and then on DVDs or CDs.

Bill and Pat’s solution isn’t just an XP solution. Even though they don’t speak Mac, I do.  This scenario will work fine with a Mac.


Leave a Comment