Backup your Computer and Data, the full guide
April11, 2003 by Keith Benicek, Editor

Introduction - Backing up your computer
Methods to the (less) madness
A Cheap Basic Backup Solution
Ext. Hard DIsk Drive Fact Sheet
Best Bundled Drive/Software Solutions *
Best Retail Backup Software Soutions *
            * Upcoming article segments

When was the last time that you did a backup of your computer? A month ago, a year ago, never? Don’t feel bad; the vast majority of computer users haven’t either. The main reason seems to be a total ignorance for the need to do it, which quickly changes after your first hard drive crash, or an irreversible Operating System corruption.

There is no Operating System, nor hardware platform that is safe from minor or disastrous crash and data corruption. Even the innocuous Palm and notoriously flakey Pocket PC needs backup. Fortunately, both of these devices allow your backup and restore operations as simply as doing your frequent “Hot Sync/ActiveSync” procedure.

Don’t you wish that clever Microsoft and Apple had built that backup capability into their high touted Operating systems? Perhaps it’s as well, or not as well that their Operating Systems control this life saving operation, considering the unreliability that some Operating Systems seem to have.

And if you think that because your system is new or you have a brand spanking new hard disk drive (HDD) so a calamity is probably far off; it doesn’t have to be an unexpected catastrophe to make you wish you had backed up. By the way,




brand new HDD’s do self-destruct, with in some cases no warning notice.

Have you ever inadvertently tossed an important file, document or worse yet a crucial application file, even a portion of the operating system? Don't laugh, you eventually will no matter how careful you think you are; and if you are a Mac user that still runs OS 9 Classic with OS X (10), it is very easy to mistakenly trash an OS X component while you’re in OS 9 while thinking your “cleaning up” file in the root hard drive folder. This is a catastrophe, fella!

Don’t be smirking over there Windows boy, you too can accidentally remove a crucial file from your favorite OS by messing with the Registry file, DLL library and a number of other places within Windows. Even a Windows XP expert can make the ultimate step into OS
" ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure."
Marc Cohen, originator and host of the Saturday morning KABC (LA) radio Computer and Technology Show, where I've occasionally co-hosted as a vacation fill-in, was using his favorite Ontrack SystemSuite 4.0 to “clean up” his Windows XP system. A little too much cleaning by SystemSuite also eliminated some key files in the XP installation and the OS was dealt a fatal blow. Very fortunately in this case Marc only had to reinstall Windows XP.

I do NOT recommend using either SystemSuite, or especially Norton System Works under any circumstances; unless you’re an expert with them, and your system is backed up. It is worth the time and cost you will invest.

In situations like this, if you simply back up the hard drive, whether it is a Windows or Mac OS computer, you could easily restore all to 100% health. The methods are varied, some simple and some are not; but as the old saying goes “an ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure.”

In this multi-segment story we will look at all the various methods, software and hardware available to you to accomplish that ounce of prevention. Stay tuned; this is just a little shot that won’t hurt a bit.


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