Now that our computer hard drives are growing and precious pictures, movies, and other content are happily moving into the new space; the data on our hard-drives is becoming increasing valuable. We used to just keep our letters, bills, tax information and other rather-boring stuff on our computers. The same kind of stuff our grandparents stored in boxes and eventually discarded. Now we are keeping photo's, memories, home-movies... The kind of stuff that was kept in your grandparents photo album's and scrap-books. You know, the stuff that is irreplaceable, priceless, and you are trying to make sure it is preserved for your kids and future generations. Just keep in mind that every single hard disk drive ever made will eventually stop working!
A lot of us have already experienced at least one hard disk failure, and others have heard of such happenings. But there are just as many who never think such a thing will happen to them, until it does, and it happens to everyone. Some people are prepared and the disk failure is just an inconvenience, and others lose everything with no hope for recovery. Which camp will you be in?
There are two fairly simple and inexpensive ways to protect your data:
- Make backup copies to a local portable hard disk. This option requires that you buy a portable hard disk and plug it into your computer. You should also use software that will automatically copy your files at certain times to the backup hard disk. This option gives you the ability to restore your files from your local backup hard disk whenever there is a problem with your primary computer hard drive.
- Use an online backup service. This option requires that you subscribe to a monthly or annual subscription to use an off site backup facility. Online backup services usually supply you with the software and everything you need to start backing up your data immediately. While online backup does require you to pay a subscription fee, the cost of a portable disk drive is usually equal to a year or two of online backup service. Online backup may take significantly longer to restore large amounts of data, but it does offer protection against a much wider range of problems (such as fire or disaster).
I like both options. I backup everything that is valuable and I want to keep for the long-term to an online backup provider. I also backup some other files locally to a raid disk array. In case of a major fire, I would likely lose my local storage, but the most valuable files are safely stored on an offsite backup server that is in a disaster-resistant data-center many miles away.