There are a lot of different backup solutions out there, how do you make them work together for the best workflow? The good news is there are these different options, the bad news is they can be very confusing. When you have local files, external hard drives and online backup to deal with, it becomes overwhelming.
We have written this guide to help you take advantage of these different options. For each type of online backup in this guide there are several choices depending on your situation. We'll focus on the choices for individuals (single computer) and home (multiple computers) users to cover most common backup scenarios. Our comprehensive guide walks through organizing your data, selecting backup, and backing up online.
1. Organize Your Data
Keep data in an organized file structure. Store your files by type. For instance, keep video files together. Then, in subfolders you can break it down by event, date, or whatever you feel is relevant. Both individuals and home users will benefit from keeping files organized.
Having all of these files stored in an organized system helps select which of them need to be backed up. Knowing exactly which files you are going to backup simplifies the process and ensures all of your data is safe.
Sort our extraneous files. Once you have your files organized, choosing which of them stays or goes will be much easier. To keep the example of videos going, lets say you have videos that you know you don't need. Divide these files up into backed up and non-backed up folders.
You'll be shocked, when it comes time to import your new video files, your organized file structure will make backing up so much easier.
2. Backing Up To External Drive
Pick an external drive that is right for you. For individuals an external drive that is exactly as big as your computer hard drive is perfect (For instance a 500GB external drive for a 500GB hard drive on your computer). You can simply back up everything using software like Apple's Time Machine. This program allows you to restore individual files as well as restore entire systems with user preferences.
If you have more than one user, which means lots of data to backup, having your file organization in place will save you tons of space. Say overall you have around 3TB's of data and 1TB hard drive to use as backup. It's going to be crucial that you have a system in place like we talked about in the previous step.
Use good software. Backups are much easier to keep up with when you have an automated software solution. Like previously mentioned, Apple's Time Machine is a go-to solution for individuals because it backs up everything automatically. If you have a structured backup plan, software will allow you to select the files you have set aside as important to backup.
A less common alternative for home users is using a consumer version NAS (network attached storage). A solution like WD My Book Live Server. It comes with one hard drive on a network that can backup 3TB's of data. It comes with software that will help you schedule your backups for all of your computers.
3. Backing Up To The Cloud
Once again, your organized file structure from step one will make online backup easy. How you store your data locally will be reflected in what you backup online. Good organization cuts down clutter and saves server space. When you start your initial backup, it will go much quicker.
Individuals can get backup for one computer starting around $4.95/Month using a company like MyPC Backup. Their plan comes unlimited backup space, automatic and scheduled backup.
Home and families users can addon services to MyPC Backup to include a sync folder or add more computers to a plan. This way an entire household can backup important documents and files.
Automate your online backup. Backing up data regularly protects you from losing important files. These next few tips will highlight which features will help you automate your backup.
Individuals with a computer full of important data can rely on one tool in particular. This is the automatic backup feature. After the initial backup runs you want to run the backup in as short of intervals as possible. If the software has a way to schedule the backups, you can run them weekly, daily or even hourly. This reduces the time it will take to transfer data because you will be backing up less data more often.
Home users will find it more important than individuals to keep backup's small. There are two ways you can do this.
- The first is by using a tool that excludes files types. If your family has a lot of digital movies downloaded you can redownload in a crunch (from iTunes for example), why back them up? Instead, exclude their file type (.mp4 for example).
- The second way is to use a tool that imposes a file size limit on backups. This only allows files under a certain size to be backed up. Many documents including Microsoft Office documents are less than 30MB's. So you could set up file size limits to reduce transfer time. Both of these methods reduce the load per backup.
If you follow this guide, your backup experience will be much better. Below you will find more resources you can use to even further your.