You’ve probably heard it all before, how important it is to back up the data on your computer. It seems every other web article is warning you about the risks you take by not backing up your files. This is not another doom and gloom tome about the consequences of leaving your computer unprotected by regular backups. Instead we offer some practical advice about how you can actually go about backing up your computer without spending a dime.
If the worst should happen, there is a good chance of getting lost data back, by using a data recovery service. Most computer repair businesses include data recovery in the services they offer. Honestly though, who needs the stress of an anxious wait while an expert attempts to help you with data recovery? If you’ve kept any really important documents backed up, all you have to do is restore what you lost and all’s well again.
So before we drift further into the doom and gloom this article promises not to foretell of, let’s get back on track. You can take your pick from either of the following options to protect your most important electronic documents and files. Neither option will ever be in the top-ten list of highly effective backup plans; but with no budget, you can’t be too choosy, right?
The Very Simple Option: Back-Up to a Partition on Your Computer’s Drive
If you’re only concerned about saving you from you, this is one way to protect your important documents from getting deleted accidentally. You can simply create a partition on your computers main drive. A partition is an isolated space on your drive which has its own identity. For example, the main drive on a Windows computer is usually called drive C. When you create a partition this will show up in your computer drive window as drive D (or it could be a different letter).
Creating a partition is not difficult, especially in later versions of Windows for example. If you’re not confident about doing this yourself, your local computer repair guru will be able to help you.
When you have created the partition, you can copy all your important files and documents from the main drive to the new partition. Don’t use this partition for anything else. Just archive copies of your files here. You can then forget about them, at least until the time comes when you accidentally delete something from your main drive. When that time comes, you can just copy the documents back from the partition, to folders in your main drive.
Understand though, that this method is not really a backup in the true sense of the word. It will protect you from losing documents permanently if you or someone else accidentally deletes them. However, you’re only protecting documents, not your whole computer. If your hard drive should fail, or some other calamity should strike your computer, you’re still going to lose those files. The only hope for getting them back in such circumstances would be through a professional data recovery service.
Remember also that, like any form of backup, this is not a one-time exercise. Every time you create or save an important document or file on your computer, you need to archive a copy to your partition.
The Co-Operative Option: A Trusted Friend or Family Member
If you are really strapped for cash to obtain any external storage medium on which to keep copies of your files, you could call on someone else’s spare computer capacity. What you will need is a person you really, really trust. A spouse or sibling, parent or child, or your best friend could be good examples. The person you nominate must have their own computer, with spare drive capacity and willingness to store your copy documents.
Whenever you have some files you want to keep copies of, borrow somebodies flash drive (if you’re lucky your nominated trustee will have one) and copy your files onto it. Transfer those files from the flash drive to your trustee’s computer (preferably to a separate partition) and forget them (the files, not the trustee). While this backup method sounds a little dubious, it does have some benefits.
1. You’re getting your important copy documents off your own drive. If something should happen to your computer or drive, you can easily get your files back from your trustee’s computer. Even if you decide not to revive your own machine with a computer repair, you won’t need to pay for data recovery and you can load your files onto a replacement computer eventually.
If your trustee doesn’t live in your home, so much the better, your files are safe even if, god forbid, your house is burgled, flooded or catches fire.
2. If your trustee’s computer should come to grief, all you’ve lost is your document copies. Then you can just find another trusted friend with a computer, rinse and repeat. By the time you’ve cycled through a few trustees, the first one will with luck, have a new computer.
3. The arrangement can be mutual. You can take care of your trustee’s copy files too. If you should accidentally delete them, it’s not a big deal, the originals are still in place and new copies can be made. You could even extend this collaborative approach to data recovery avoidance, by bringing more trustees into the circle. That does increase the risk of falling victim to a lack of integrity though.
The Moral of this Article
In the spirit of saving the best until last, this ever so slightly tongue in cheek look at data backup serves to make a point. Here’s where we have to say “gotcha”, because the point is this: Backing up your data is important. Avoiding the stress and cost of data recovery is not difficult. You just need to have copies of your valuable documents and ideally, store them somewhere away from the originals.
You can protect your most important files without spending money. By spending a little on an external drive or cloud storage subscription though, you can protect them much more effectively than either of the options described above.
If the very worst should happen and you’re in the New Jersey area, all may not be lost. Dave’s Computers offers a professional data recovery service. Even if your computer or drive has been physically damaged, your data may be retrievable. Give the team a call on 908-428-9558 and let them put their expertise to work for you.
by David Molnar