Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Backup your data!

Introduction
For anyone who has suffered a hard drive crash you will know the worth of having a backup of your data files. Application software like MS Office can be reinstalled but your precious holiday snaps or your dearest musings are priceless to you. You need to keep your files safe - you need to backup!


Backing up is a Pain!
Backing up really is a pain. You have to remember to do it and the hard drive crash or other disaster comes always at that time just before you were going to do another backup. It's a chore and let's face it, we're all a bit lazy and complacent when it comes to backing up.

Windows XP and Windows 7 Professional have nice backup programs, there are also many others available. But these traditional programs need to run at a scheduled time. That means your backup is like a moment in time. If a day after you last backed up your computer crashes, you've lost a day's worth of files! Also, what do you backup to? DVD? How many and how long will that take? A lot and a long time!


The Solution
Wouldn't it be good if the computer would backup the data for you, without you have to do anything much? My advice is to purchase an external USB hard disk drive that comes with 'on-the-fly' backup software. In other words, a drive that backs up files automatically as you use your computer.

A few months ago (during 2011) I bought a Western Digital My Passport Essential SE 1TB. It's a very small portable hard disk. It supports USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. This drive comes with WD SmartWare software, install it onto your Windows computer and it'll run in the background. When a file is saved or created, it is backed up automatically to your external drive. If you accidentally delete a file from your C: drive, you can still restore it from your backup because WD SmartWare stores multiple versions of files.


My Requirements
Everyone has their own requirements for purchasing any product, this is no different. But I thought I'd explain my reasons for getting this particular model, the My Passport Essential SE. I wanted 1TB of space. I wanted USB 3.0 so it would be very fast. I attached the drive to my desktop computer - you may wonder why I wanted a portable drive as it's more expensive than a desktop hard drive. The reason is that I don't have to plug it into the power, it's powered directly from the computer's USB port. It's small, it takes up very little physical space. As I said, these are personal reasons, you may have different requirements, I thought I'd share mine in case it helps you decide on what's best for you.


Conclusion
My computer's hard disk had a problem recently and I had to reinstall the whole computer. I restored my files from my My Passport Essential SE, it worked like a charm. This is the ultimate test, to restore the data, WD SmartWare worked for me. I'm sure other manufacturer's similar solutions also work well. My most important advice here is to backup and to get an external drive like the My Passport Essential. I think it's worth the cost, it's like an insurance policy and I can tell you from my experience that it works.


Reference
Western Digital My Passport Essential SE (last accessed 04/10/2011)
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=430

TechCrunch review 2009 (last accessed 04/10/2011)
http://techcrunch.com/2009/10/20/review-western-digital-my-book-essential-with-smartware-backup-software/

TechRadar review 2009 (last accessed 04/10/2011)
http://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/pc-components/storage/disk-drives-hdd-ssd-/western-digital-my-passport-essential-500gb-475325/review
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