Data Storage buying guide

With more and more of us saving thousands of valuable digital photos and music downloads on our PCs, it's more important than ever to back up files just in case the worst should happen.PCs are vulnerable to unwanted corruption that can permanently destroy images and music tracks in minutes. But if you back up files you can retrieve them quickly and easily should you ever need to.

Ways to Back up

There are many ways to backup data. Either to a USB stick or a writeable CD or DVD but if you have a lot of data, an external hard drive is a good idea.

  • External hard drive: these usually connect via USB and often have backup software built-in to make it easier to create backups. It's a good idea to run a backup every night if you always leave your PC on, or perhaps set it to run every time you start the machine up. It is also a good idea to use a power surge plug when powering any device as a preventive measure against a power surge knocking out the computer and the backup drive in one hit.
  • USB Flash drives: these ultra portable drives may be small, but they offer generous storage capacity, quick and easy data backup. They are also great for transferring files from one PC to another.
  • DVD/CD writers: another useful way to backup data is by CD or DVD. DVD would be a better choice as you can store 4.7GB of data. A CD can only store around 700MB. Both can use Explorer within a Windows Operating System to drag and drop files onto the blank disc. You can name the disc and (depending on the speed of your CD or DVD writer) wait for the files to be transferred as it writes to the disc using a laser.
  • Online backup: another method increasing in popularity and therefore decreasing in price is to use an online backup service. This uses your broadband Internet connection to copy (securely) all your data over to a third party's server somewhere in the Internet world, so if the worst came to the worst and your computer was lost, stolen or destroyed by fire then you could get the data back. Suppliers include Carbonite and Bullguard amongst others, charging around £30 a year for around 20GB of backup space. Some antivirus packages, McAfee and Bullguard for example, include online backup in their package.

What should I backup?

The main files such as 'My Documents', 'My Music' and 'My Pictures' as well as certain programs in the C drive that save files directly to a folder on the C drive. One thing customers sometimes forget is their email folder, if they are using Outlook or similar programs, they will need to be located in their storage file and included in their backup schedule.