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Creating a backup policy Featured

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Important wedding photos. Amazing memories of vacations past. Financial data or tax records. Our data is important to each of us. Regardless of business or personal use. If you have critical data that you just can't afford to lose, then it is crucual you devlop a backup policy. 


In this article we will cover the following age old questions


What Is a backup and why is it needed.

In the simplest of terms a backup is an exact copy of any folder or files you feel are important.

  • Photos
  • Music
  • Financial Data (Quickbooks / Quicken Data)
  • Bank Statements
  • Graphics
  • Email

So why is it so important to have a good backup stratigy? Most computer users store this data in various places on their computers. Eventually the harddrive storing this data can and will fail.


Backing up your data is as easy as 3 - 2 - 1 

When asked what is the best strategy for deploying a backup policy either for home or business. I always reccomend a 3 - 2 -1 policy.


 Have 3 copies of your important files (an example, your original files on your computer itself, another copy on a external USB hard drive or thumb drive, and a third copy offsite such as a cloud or offsite storage)


Use 2 different types of media (an example, backing one copy to your hard drive and a second copy to an optical drive like a DVD player.).                                                                                                                   


 Store 1 copy offsite. Using a cloud service or even just keeping a copy of your data at home or the office (depending on the location of the origianl) ensures that id somethign happens to the physical location you are still protected.

Media types and how to use each


With the basic strategy outline, the next step is determining what media you need to use for what you want to backup. In this section we will discuss the pros and cons of each media type. Remember no media type is 100% fool proof.


Optical Drives - Once a common form of backup for music and photos, using your DVD Burner as a source of of backup seems to be on the decline since many new computer companies opt to leave out a CD / DVD Burner. The media has limitations with writable CD's only having the capacity of 750 MB and DVD capcity topping out at about 4.7 GB. If your storage needs don't exceed this limit and yo uhave the drive in your computer this could be all you may need.


External Drives - External storage such as SD cards, USB Thumb Drives and External USB Harddrives come in a variety of storage sizes. USB Thumb Drives and External Harddrives are the more commonly used forms of backup for our 3 - 2 - 1 rules. These drives allow the user to back up larger amounts of data and because they are smaller and portable they remain easy to transport and store. But be mindful because these too are harddrives and constructed much like the same harddrive in your computer I always suggest my clients routinely check the drive from time to time for any failures that could have occured during storage or travel. 

If you have important documents such as a copy of your will our last seven years of taxes stored on a thumb drive in your home wall safe, you should confirm that the drive is still in working order from time to time.


Network Attach Storage (NAS) - Network attached storage typically are storage devices that are attached to your network allowing you to have access to a folder. Often these units can be setup in different cinfigurations called RAID Arrays that allow for safety and redundant safeguards against datal loss. These drives are typicaly configured of several drives combined together to offer even larger storage capcities. Accidents can still occure using these devices such as multiple harddrive faulres.

I often reccomend using a NAS location as a secondary media type. 


Cloud & Offsite Storage - Could servies offer users unlimited storage space but usually at a price. Many services may give you a few free Gigs and this may allow you to store some of your data but as your needs grow so will the need for more space as well as the proce tag. In addition to cost a few other factors to think about could be speed of transfer as well as security. Could services are convenient but the upload speed of your internet connection could be a time consuming deal breaker. Once you get your data to your service provider how safe is it? Most bigger companies have redundant power supplies and backup policies of their own in place to ensure it from loss. The real security concern is from theft.

Many Small Business Offices install a secondary NAS offsite allowing the Office NAS to Offload backups to its counterpart daily. This offers a bit more peice of mind since all the equipment is owned in house.


With these options in mind, if you are wondering how big a harddrive you should purchase. I often look at the data I need to back up. If it is on only a single machine i look at the computers internal harddrive size, double that and double it again for furure growth. If you are looking for a multi computer solution you may want to research more about Network Attached Storage and consult the NAS dealer for their reccomendations. 


It is important to remeber when creating this policy on a computer that may be shared between family members or peers in an office. Each user has to deploy a backup policy of their own. Data files being backed up by one office memebr may not include your files. It is extremely important to remeber we are all responsible for our own data. 



What should I backup?


Now that we covered a basic backup policy and the types of media required to execute that policy, it only makes sense to talk about exactly what needs to be backed up.  As mentioned earlier, depending on the indivdual needs will determine what should. be backed up. It should be mentioned that understanding what you can't back up is just as important as knowing what you should back up. Allow me to explain. Often I am asked by clients if the can back up Word or Quicken. The answer is both yes and no. When installing programs that will run on your computer, the installation program installs the program in several locations and often includes enteries into your computers registry. Because of this you can't backup the program itself such as Word. You can however backup the files or documents you created with that program. Using Word as the example, you can't backup Word itself but you can backup the letter you typed in Word. 

Additioanlly many programs such as Quickbooks or Quicken will have specific backup functions built directly into the software allowing th euser to creat a copy of the data stored inside the program. Each program is specific to that program and should be researched with the software maker.

Generally we want to backup any folders that contain our documents such as Word or PDF. Often users store these documents in the "My Documents" folder or on the "Desktop". Be mindful of where to usally save these documents to and include that location in your backup. As a habit I typically try to not save anything to my "Desktop" unless I am saving it in a NAS folder located on my Desktop. Photos, Music or anything that is impossible to replace or reproduce should be included in your backup.

Emails can also be included in your backup policy and we have a brief guide on our website on how to creat a backup copy. You can access that article by clicking here.


Windows' Built In Backup


Earlier I mentioned that many programs you use may have a specific backup process builtin and if yours does you should follow that process. But what if the software doesn't. Fortunately for most users Windows had a backup utility built into the operating system to allow for backing up files and revisions. The advantage of using Windows backup is once it is setup you can basically forget about it and it will run in the background. It helps to have a well organized file structure planned out and this won't be covered in this article.

When using Windows backup we can use either an external hard drive or a shared network hard drive (Network Attached Storage or NAS). The size of this drive should be a minimum of twice the size of the data you are planning to backup to allow for growth over time.

Since Windows 7 has reached end of life I won't be covering the Tools built into that OS and we will focus on Windows 8.1 and newer. The process is split into two basic parts consisting of File History and a seperate Image Tool.


The steps that follow will assist yo uin backing up any irreplacable files that you may care about.


Windows Backup Utility.                                                                                                     


Using the search box on your windows computer type th eword backup and click on "Backup Settings". Click the "Turn On" button in File History to begin the process. 



By default windows wil begin backing up all os the filders in the current users profile such as Photos and Documents. By selecting "More Options" under the on / off slider you will be able to tweak your settings to include or exclude folders that may not be currently selected as well as setting the frequency in which the backup runs and how long it retains exsisting backups. 

Remeber that if this is in an Office Enviorment your administrator may. have a disk space quota assigned to your shared NAS drive so keeping all backups forever could become problemtatic down the road. It is a good idea to retain a few copies. I personally keep about 1 month. But you may have a need for longer.



So you now have a backup of all the files you wish to keep secure. They are all stored on your external hard drive or NAS drive. So what if something happens and you need to restore these files back to your computer? While in the back up options page if you scroll down you will see the option " Restore files from a current backup". Clicking the option will open a windows of all your files available by date and time.


 How to create a Windows' Recovery Drive.                                                           


It is critically important that every computer have atleast one recovery drive created for it. This backup is different from what we have already mentioned since this is an exact image copy of your hard drive. 

What you'll need?

  • A USB Drive with atleast 4 GB of space or more.
  • A Computer running WIndows 10

In your search box type "Create Recovery". Press Enter



Make sure you have your thumbdrive connected to the USB port of the computer.

Click Next.

Wait while the Recover wizard copies the needed files to your thumbdrive.

Recover 3

With the thumbdrive still connected click Next.

The final warning about the data being lost on the thumbdrive.

The recovery drive will then be created.

Once completed store your recovery drive someplace where it will be safe.





Read 624 times Last modified on Sunday, 24 May 2020 10:28

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