backup

Backup is the activity of copying files or databases so that they will be preserved in case of equipment failure or other catastrophe. Backup is usually a routine part of the operation of large businesses with mainframes as well as the administrators of smaller business computers. For personal computer users, backup is also necessary but often neglected. The retrieval of files you backed up is called restoring them.

Personal computer users can consider both local backup and Internet backup.

Local Backup

These are some options, with the least expensive approach listed first.
  • Backing up critical files to diskettes. This approach is commonly used by people who keep their checkbooks and personal finance data on the computer. Programs like Quicken and Managing Your Money always remind users when they quit the program to backup their data. If your hard disk crashes, you'll be able to reconstruct your checkbook balances. If you have other files (for example, chapters of a book you're working on), you'll want to backup every single day's work. Copying it to a diskette is quick and economical.
  • Backing up to a Zip drive, Jaz, Syquest, or similar hard disks. Once a week or so, you should back up your files (at least your own data files and perhaps the entire contents of your hard drive) to an alternative storage device, such as a Zip drive. These devices hold at least one million bytes on a special hard disk. Backing up usually takes a while (about 45 minutes for the contents of a 500 megabyte hard disk).
  • There are also easily removable drives that you can back up to, especially if you have other reasons to use these (for example, for large graphic images that you store offline).

Internet Backup

You can also consider sending your files to another site for safekeeping. In case your hard disk crashes, you'll be able to download them from the safekeeping site. These are some products and services that are offered:
  • Atrieva provides the user with a client program that allows the user to send files being backed up to an Atrieva-designated backup site. One monthly charge entitles you to back up up to 25 megabytes.
  • BackupNet sells both a server and a client and is aimed at helping you set up your own intranet.
  • QuickBackup is a client program from McAfee Associates. They have a modest charge for the client and a relatively low monthly charge for storing 30 MB. QuickBackup lets you save by folder or file types.
This was last updated in December 2009
Posted by: Margaret Rouse
View the next item in this Essential Guide: remote replication or view the full guide: Essential guide to business continuity and disaster recovery plans

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