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by JB Burke

Q. My computer has never had a hardware problem. Do I really need to backup my data?

A. The fact that you’ve never had a hardware problem means you’ve been very lucky. But it doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Some would say it’s almost inevitable, since you have moving parts in your computer – specifically the hard drive, which is spinning at thousands of RPM, with a read/write head flying back and forth millionths of an inch above the spinning disk surface. You get the picture. So you should back up your data. How often is a matter of your computer usage. First you should make a full backup of your “C” (and any other) drive, using something like R-Drive Image or Acronis True Image (there are others). Backup to a different physical drive within your computer, or to an external USB drive. Then if your system crashes, you can restore the backup to the original disk or a new disk – no need to reinstall Windows and other software.

Periodically create an incremental or full new backup to keep current. It’s even a good idea to keep more than one backup so if one fails, the other can still be restored. This is especially important if, for instance, you do banking, writing, research, photo editing, etc. on your computer. Can you afford the time and effort to recreate your original work if it’s lost? If you make a lot of changes, you might even do an incremental backup daily.

These programs also allow you to restore individual lost files, by searching through your backup archives. Use Google for details on how these programs work.

Published: Courier 5/17/09 - Page 5C