Backing up Windows – what’s your plan?

thumb.pngIt’s January and the web is alive with New Year’s resolutions. If you’re stuck for ideas, let me make a suggestion: backing up your computer is essential and a great starting point. I’m going to run through your options, so if you’re new to the game, you’ll know where to start.

There are two places to back-up your data, online or offline. Each has pros and cons –  online means less effort, but you’ll probably have to pay (this being a notable exception). You can probably wrangle a free solution for offline back-ups, but you’ll have to do more work, backing up and saving away from your computer.

CrashPlan is a Softonic favorite that allows you to carry our online or offline backups. You’ll have to register, but the process is easy and – for a back-up tool – quick. It also offers you plenty of options in the one program, so you can check them out and see if online or offline is the one for you.

Cobian Backup is another star player. This free app has a major attraction – it performs automatic back-ups, which you’ll have to store offline. It also allows you to pick exactly what you want to back-up; not everybody needs to back-up their whole system every day.

GFI Backup – bet you thought free, automatic and encrypted was asking for too much, right? Well you’d be wrong, because GFI Backup will give you all three, and more. Looks a lot like a wonder-app to me!

Carbonite‘s the tool for you if all that seems like too much hard work. This program stores your data online and, once it’s configured, you can pretty much forget all about it. This makes it perfect for people who want minimal involvement with their back-ups. Obviously there’s a fee for this, but for lots of people, a few dollars a month is a small price to pay.

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You’ll probably want to have a think about your back-up options before choosing one. If you’re new to the game, there are a few things to bear in mind before you take your decision – what, when and where?

What? Picture this – your laptop freaks out and the technician says the best option is to wipe it. You’ll lose everything. What will you miss most? If you have a lot of the original software, you’re probably going to weep over the lost photos and music, not Microsoft Word. If you can get away with backing up a few folders or even a drive, it’ll be easier and cheaper. Manual back-up to a secure pendrive might even be enough…

When? Obviously this depends on how often new information is added to your machine. If you work on your computer, that’s probably daily and manual back-up would be a major pain. Consider a program that allows you to do the job automatically. If it only changes once a month, you’ll probably to manage a back-up yourself.

Where? If you are happy leaving your data in the hands of an online service, it’s definitely the easiest option – you won’t have to save, store or keep safe. If you’re a fan of the “if you want a job done right…” theory, a pendrive, external hard disk, or CD are some of many storage options. No matter where you keep your data, just remember: you’ll need a storage device that’s a. big enough and b. easy to keep safe – from both prying eyes and environmental risk.

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