Step 1 – Choose Your Files
A good backup plan starts with deciding what files you want to backup. This can take a while if you have a large hard drive and thousands of files collected over years of computing.
Step 2 – Speed Up the Process
To speed up the backup process and reclaim valuable space on your hard drive, it’s a good idea to do little digital housekeeping and archive old data to semi-permanent storage media such as DVD-R, BD-R or even CD-R. Although these media are “write-once”, the expectation is that they will last about one hundred years before deteriorating.
Step 3 – Double Check Your Disks
Once you’ve archived data to your discs it’s recommended that you verify and check the data on them to ensure everything was properly transferred and that none of the files are corrupt.
Step 4 – Make Duplicates in Different Locations
Lastly, you should make more than one set of these archive discs and store them in different locations. You might keep one at your office, another in a safe deposit box and perhaps an additional copy at the home of a family member.
Step 5 – Daily Backups
Think about a reliable backup device that will function properly on a daily basis. An external hard drive that resides on your network or is connected to your computer full time is a good start.
Step 6 – Consider Your File Size
Choose a drive that will back up the entire capacity of your hard drive (plus a bit more extra space for future data).
Step 7 – Backup Beyond Personal Files
Include all the files you’ve created, your programs and the system software too. Nothing beats the speed of a hard drive with a full backup to get you up and running quickly.
Step 8 – Think Automatic
Use software that automatically backs up your drive at a scheduled time every day. Apple’s Time Machine and third-party software products like Acronis True Image for Windows, handle automated backups seamlessly and there many others available for purchase on the web.
Step 9 – A Backup for Your Backup
Beyond a single backup device you should also have a backup—for your backup. Imagine if a fire breaks out and everything becomes wet. To protect yourself against these situations, you’ll need a secondary backup—one that happens outside your facility.
Step 10 – It’s All About the Cloud
Cloud-based backup services work by downloading and installing software on your computer with data backed to their servers that can be configured to run at scheduled times on your wired or wireless network.