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by JB Burke

Q. I want to setup a backup plan for my PC, and I see there are many competing choices for how to do it. What are the issues I should consider?

A. Backing up your computer is a very important part of maintaining computer security. If your computer should fail or be stolen, you could lose all your important files, photos, etc. Here are some thoughts to consider. You can either back up your important files, (photos, documents, etc.) or you can back up the entire computer. Or you can do both.

You can back up to the cloud (servers on the internet) and/or you can purchase a USB attached hard drive. You can get a few gigabytes free on the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, Windows Skydrive, etc.), but you'll need to pay for additional capacity if that isn't enough. As you can imagine, backing up to the cloud will be slower (over the internet) than backing up to an attached drive, via USB. And a USB 2 attached drive will be much slower than USB 3. So you would probably back up files and photos, etc. to the cloud, but you could back up your entire hard drive to the external disk.

If someone steals your computer, they might also steal your external drive. You'd still have files you backed up to the cloud. If your hard drive fails you can recover it all to a new drive if you have a complete backup on an external drive. If you just have individual files backed up, you'd need to rebuild on a new hard drive – reinstall Windows, reinstall all your programs, configure the system. And then you can reload the files from your backup.

As you can see, there are several choices to make in order to protect against disk failure, computer failure, fire, theft, etc. Sorry for all the details, but this is a big area to cover. We cover topics like these, in more depth, at the meetings of the Prescott Computer Society. Attend one of our meetings as a guest to see what we do.

Published: Courier 3/16/14 - Page 3C