The Importance of File Backup

Data is the important asset that we can ever store on a computer. This is because it is represented by files we keep. However, from time to time, there is need to take care of that data by backing it up in case danger strikes.

The Problem

There are critical files that we keep on our devices:

  • These may include office documents;
  • School assignments;
  • Or even rare books and material we might have found from around the web and offline.

However, it often happens that we lose this data due to computer crashes, virus attacks and other factors beyond our control. What is the best way we can deal with data losses and corruption?

The Solution

In the wake of the recent WannaCry malware attack, it has become imperative to back up data.

There are many ways by which one can backup his or her data. In this post, we would not prescribe a single method, but will just point to different alternatives you can pick when working on Windows. What is important with any backup solution is that you:

  • Identify the files you want to backup. This is critical as it determines not only the program you use, but even the type of device you use.
  • Must have a disk to store your backup. Such a disk must have enough space to hold all your files.
  • You can also use online backup services if you do not have a disk. The advantage with online services is that once you set them up, they would regularly backup your files in the background, as long as you have internet access.

You must also keep in mind that backing up data is different from synchronising data: You sync data with services such as Dropbox, One Drive, Google Drive and many others.

However, syncing is only for just that: to keep a copy of one file across different devices. It can never be a perfect substitute for a file backup service. This is because if a file is corrupted on one device, it would be synced across devices with its flaws.

On the other hand, you backup files to keep them safe. You trust that the data you are keeping is intact, and does not need modifications. This means that unlike syncing where you have to use the file, with a backup, you just keep it and not use it until the day of reckoning.

After making a backup of files, you must keep the storage media with the backup in the safe place. From that place, you can retrieve the media on the day of disaster.

On Windows, you have three ways to manage your data backups. We will discuss these in the coming days, if possible, but IN SHORT, these are:

System Restore

Create restore points on your computer. These are shadow copies of your system settings and important files such as the registry. When your computer acts strangely, you can simply use the System Restore facility. Just type in "System Restore" on the start menu, and the restoration utility will come up shoing you all the restore points on your computer along with their dates. Usually, restore points are automatically created when you install or uninstall new programs, drivers or updates.

While strictly speaking, this is not a backup service,, yet it is an important way to manage your system. To see whether you have restore points, just type in system restore: and you will see Create Restore Points if none are there.

Backup Utility

This is a tool that comes with your PC: simply type in "Backup and Restore" to bring up the backup utility.

This tool does two things:

  • You can create new backups by clicking on New Backup. You should have a storage media where you keep the files you want to store.
  • Restore from backup. This is when you have to restore files from a storage media.

Like any good backup tool, you have to set up the backup schedule: you do not have to do it with the task scheduler. So you can choose to back your files using such frequency as weekly, daily or monthly.

However, you should just make sure that when you set up a schedule, your storage media will be attached to your computer for the backup service to complete.

The backup tool also provides you with the option to back your files to the network: this is important if you are working from a school or an organisation where you will be on the network most of the time.

What is important with a backup tool, not only this built-in one, is that you must not backup files on the same machine you are using. That isn't backup: if your computer crashes, it will go along with your backup as well, thus defeating the whole purpose of backing up.

System Imaging

Another way you can deal with data backup on Windows is using the built in System imaging tool. Unlike the backup tool discussed above, this one is for backing up not only files, but the whole drive. Thus, you cannot choose individual files for storage.

Just like the backup tool, you need a storage media that can hold the whole computer data such as an external drive. Once you start backing up your computer, all programs, settings, environment states, files etc. will be stored as they are on the storage media.

On the day of danger, you can simply restore everything from the stored image.

Well, I hope you will start to consider the question of backing up your files seriously. It is important that your reputation and that of your organisation often rests on your ability to safeguard critical data from loss. Remember: there are no excuses to losing clients' data. No fire, nor rain, nor robbery, can ever justify the loss of customers' details they entrusted with you on behalf of your organisation.

Thank you for reading, until next time, have a pleasant day!