Backup, backup, backup…

Doing a backup of your files on your computer is as fun as scheduling a dentist appointment for most people.  Yet in both cases, we all know that it is something we really can’t ignore for too long.  Scott Adamson of shares with us today, two specific applications that do the trick with minimal effort.  If only the trip to the dentist was just as easy. . .Enjoy this week’s guest blog post.

What are your memories worth? What is acceptable loss? What kind of investments have you made into your personal computer (financially or just in the time to make it an efficient tool for everyday use)?

These are the questions that are most frequently asked by people AFTER they have lost years of photographs, countless MP3s or irreplaceable documents.

Recently I had to break the news to a friend that the hard drive that I had to force out of a laptop after it fell from a bookshelf did not appear to be recoverable (at least not by my rudimentary toolkit). Date of the last backup of photos, about 2 years ago. Very little else exists anywhere else aside from this drive and that is a very sad state of affairs.

A rather expensive data recovery company could take a couple of weeks and cost several hundred to thousands of dollars to possibly recover the files from a failed drive. What alternatives and options does the average user have to protect against accidents, loss, damage or theft?

By this time, many of you have seen commercials online of on TV for service like Mozy. More and more backup solutions leverage “the cloud” with the fast and convenient Internet speeds most of us enjoy in our homes or offices to backup key files (or all files if you see fit) to an online storage location. Internet-based solutions are generally very cost effective (running about $10 per month for “unlimited” storage) and give many people the peace of mind of having data outside their home in case a laptop goes missing, a computer is damaged or a flood or fire ravages their home. One key issue with this is as fast as your internet connection may be, backing up everything to “the cloud” will take days or weeks to complete and maybe a little less time to recover (if God forbid you do need to recover a vast majority of your files).

Online solutions are very good options but the truth of the matter is, most often, users are going to be looking for the song they deleted from iTunes last week thinking it was on their iPod or overwriting the wrong Word file and needing to just go back to last hour or last night. This is where local backups are simple, quick and truly lifesavers.

Apple has incorporated Time Machine in the last couple of versions of their system (10.5 and 10.6). Just plug in an external hard drive (costing $50-100 depending on total storage capacity from or amazon) and Time Machine will ask if you would like to use this “new” drive for backups. Click yes, the system sets up the drive and puts together a schedule. The system is now good to go. If you have multiple computers in a home, check out Apple’s Time Capsule that acts as a wireless network router for the home and backup device for any Mac connected to it. Set it and forget it….

With the latest versions of Windows (Microsoft did a very nice job of integrating backup into Windows 7) provides an automated backup can be directed to a second drive in a similar fashion to Apple’s Time Machine. Connect a drive, configure the basic backup settings and let the backup do its thing.

Of course there are many options for buying backup software (some come with the drives you get from Amazon, Best Buy or the Apple store), but nothing that I have seen works as seamlessly and smoothly as the built in solutions from Apple and Microsoft.

Before investing in backup software, I would work with what you have from the manufacturer.  Next step, seek out some help in getting it set-up once so that you’re good to go….backup!

Scott Adamson is a technology professional having spent most of his professional life in the NYC area supporting everyone from individuals to larger organizations.  His goal as a consultant and technologist is to be the helpdesk you always wanted…Connect with Scott at

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