You ARE Backing Up Your Computer...Right?
In reality, most people are likely confused by what it means.
There's a survey done annually that asks a few thousand people "how often do you back up your computer?" In 2015, 25% of the people surveyed indicated they had never backed up their computer.
However, there's a general feeling by most computer experts, consultants and websites that most people are confused about the topic and that many people don't really know or understand what backing up a computer means or entails.
Or even if they have a general idea of backing up files, the idea seems too technical or overwhelming that they don't get around to it at all.
No matter what they say.
The survey showed the majority of those asked are not in the habit of backing up files on their computer.
"How often do you back up your computer?"
Still, 75% of a few-thousand people claimed they backup their computer at least once a year. But is that honest? (Look at the other percentages, which are very low.) Maybe they didn't want to admit they NEVER backed up their computer(s).
At least 25% of honest people admitted they NEVER had.
What's the reality, though?
A mini-survey of ordinary family of six—computer users, non-technical jobs, bright, college-educated, ranging from ages 18-64, admitted the following:
- They had never backed up their computers.
- Not once in a year, ever.
- Not once with any of the three or four computers they owned.
And yet, all of them had at least one computer crash on them over the past 10 years.
If you tend to put and keep all types of data on your computer—from photos and recipes to your next best-selling novel—you should spend a few minutes learning what backing up files is about. You don't want to learn the hard way that it's a good idea.
Q. What do you need to know about backing up your computer?
Here is a quick and easy, Question and Answer review that covers questions most people have and wish they could ask, but often don't for fear of looking confused.
Q. What does "backing up" my computer or files really mean?
It simply means making a copy or copies of the information that's on your computer. For instance, if you made a photocopy of a receipt, you'd have a "back up" in case you ever lost the original. When you back up a file on your computer, it means you made a copy of that file.
Q. What are all these "files" people talk about? Sounds technical.
"Files" is computer jargon for the items/information that you have on YOUR computer. Everything that you create, save or store on your computer is a digital file, whether for work or leisure or learning. Everything you've saved or created and resides on your computer makes up your files. Every folder on your hard drive is a collection of files.
Not only that, all the programs on your computer are files too.
And it doesn't matter how that information got there, whether...
- You transferred it to your computer (a photograph or video from your camera)
- You created it on your computer (a spreadsheet or word document, etc.)
- You downloaded it (a movie, a PDF, a picture or music)
- It came with your computer; your operating system (Windows, Mac OS) and your programs/applications.
Q. Isn't this primarily for business? It always sounded like an operational process.
No, it isn't, even though almost all business do backups. It's important for business because they create and save thousands of pieces of data daily for their customers and clients. And one- and two-person companies that create complicated design or write computer code for clients can't risk losing their work.
But still, there are good reasons why students, online shoppers, weekend investors and novelists should back up their files, too.
Q. I've never backed up my files. Why start now?
Here are the top reasons to get into the habit of backing up:
- A computer crash: It happens more often than you think and older computers are more susceptible
- Computer viruses. Hackers have hundreds of ways to infect computers, which can ruin all you files.
- Ransomware. In May 2017, millions of computers worldwide were held for ransom, remotely, by hackers using a virus. The computer users hit had NO access to their data.
If you lost access to the information on your computer today, would you not be happy.
- Imagine the fear of losing critical personal financial, or medical data you saved on your hard-drive...and nowhere else.
- Imagine the dread when you realize the important items that YOU don't have access to.
Q. Even without backup, wouldn't I be able to locate files through other people's computers?
- ven if those files existed somewhere else, you would have to bother others to find and send those files to you. And you better hope they have what you think they do.
- There's no way you would recover much of what you lost
- Most likely, if your computer crashed with everything on it, you would not know what you lost.
Q. Isn't backing up files unnecessary and a hassle? (That's why I never do it.)
No! That's the number one misconception and confusion about backing up files. Backing up files isn't difficult and doesn't need to be confusing...and it is vital!
Here's the key: You get to decide what you want to copy and save, and how you want to do it!
- You can make copies of just your personal photographs and videos, the photo/video downloads from the Internet.
- Or you could make backup copies of all your spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and Word documents that are work related.
- You could start with backing up any important legal documents or important files you have scanned onto your hard-drive or downloaded via email.
Of course, if you saved all of your computer files—everything that exists on your computer! — you'd have it all.
Q. I'm convinced! Now, what kind of special equipment do I have to buy?
Here's more good news. There are a handful of ways you can back up your files and none are very complicated. In fact, you can get started immediately, most likely, for next to nothing...even free!
How you go about it depends on what you want to copy, how often and where you want to keep/store your copies.
It can be as simple as buying a $10 "thumb-drive," spending $50 or more on an "external" hard drive, or opening a low-cost "Cloud"-based account where you can transfer files off your computer and retrieve from any computer, at your leisure.
Cloud backup services, such as CrashPlan and Carbonite, can "continuously back up entire folders on your hard drive, instead of just a few files that you choose," as stated on Carbonite's website.