Do YOU Have a Backup Strategy? (I'll show you mine...)

Category: Backup

I want to say a big THANKS again to all those who have sent comments and questions about backups. I'm really excited about the launch of my new ebook 'Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS' and since I mentioned it last week, lots of you have been asking how and when you can get it. I'll answer that question in today's issue, but I also want to share some Backup Success Stories and talk to you about my Personal Backup Strategy. Read on!

How to Backup Everything

In case you missed my earlier postings in this series on backups, you might want to review the WHY (Nine Good Reasons for Backups) and the WHAT (Should You Back Up Everything?).

In those posts, I discussed the necessity of making regular backups, and covered some of the most common questions and objections. (Are backups complicated, time consuming or expensive? NO, not if you follow my advice!)

I talked about free backup software, the security of "cloud storage", and different types of backups. I also addressed the issue of what you need to backup, and why I believe "pick and choose" backup strategies are not a good idea.

Back it Up! Backup Strategies

In today's posting, I'm going to cover the HOW by laying out my own personal backup strategy. (Tomorrow I'll explain why Seinfeld's George Costanza unwittingly had the answer to preventing data loss.)

It's March, so maybe you've already forgotten your New Year's resolutions. But it's not too late to make a promise to yourself. Wouldn't it be great to have the peace of mind that your data is safe from viruses, hardware failures, theft, human error, and other potential data disasters? Resolving to protect your data is a great way to move away from fear and worry into a place of knowledge and confidence.

And like I've said, it doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. I've been helping people with computer problems for over 30 years. When I worked at IBM, I got the nickname "Doctor Bob" because I always had the answers to my co-workers' software and hardware questions. I left there in 1997, and began writing about computers, gadgets and the Internet for a larger audience. I try hard to explain things in a way that is accessible to both gurus and grandmas, and was thrilled when one of my readers once said "You're a translator for the technology impaired!"

My Personal Backup Strategy

A common question I get is "Bob, what do YOU recommend for making backups, and how exactly do you go about it?" I use a combination of software and hardware tools to make backups. It might be overkill for you, or you might adapt it for your own backups. Here are the tools and techniques that I've chosen to use for backups.

My personal backup strategy is to make a full system backup (also called a drive image) every Sunday morning at 3 AM. I supplement that with daily incremental backups to catch any new or changed files. The image file and incremental backups are stored on an external hard drive. I'm currently using a 2-Terabyte (2000 gigabytes) external drive that I've had for a couple years, and it's been rock solid.

That's all scheduled and done automatically with the Macrium Reflect software. I take that one step further, by using File History to keep three revisions of files in certain folders that I often work in. This allows me to recover from the occasional "oops".

I also subscribe to the "Backup Your Backup" philosophy. So in addition to making backups on my external hard drive, I keep some important files in cloud storage (Google Drive and Dropbox work well here), and upload my encrypted backup files to an offsite server. My process involves some geeky technical voodoo. But you can do pretty much the same thing by storing your backup on another computer in your home, or on a separate external drive.

And just because I can, I clone my C: drive to a spare hard drive in my desktop PC every weekend. So if something ever happened to my primary hard drive, and for some reason the backup failed (or was unavailable), I could tell my computer to boot up from the spare drive. Is that taking backup too far? Nah... if I was really paranoid, I would install a high-performance disk-mirroring system to sync my files in real time with a backup drive.

Your Success Stories

I asked you to tell me your own backup and recovery success stories, and I want to share two of those here:

Linda: "I had a close-to-new Windows system go bad, but I had Carbonite backup. It did take awhile, but I got it all back. Then recently several of the folders in my mail program disappeared, but I got them back too. I now also use an external hard drive for both my laptop and desktop which is my main computer. I want to be prepared in case something does happen again and it probably will. I do historical research and can't imagine having to start over. Thank you for all your advice."

Derek: "I had a hard drive disaster similar to yours. Was trying to help a friend with a virus that came from an infected website, and ended up getting zapped myself! The computer said something like OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND and would not start. Fortunately I was making full backups on an external drive, and was able to restore everything, except for a few files from the previous day. Whew!"

Everything You Need to Know...

I hear things like this all the time: "I'm afraid my computer might get a virus or be hacked" or "I hope my hard drive doesn't crash." Those are signs of Fear and Worry. I've prepared the 7th Edition of my ebook Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS to help you replace those negative thoughts with Knowledge and Confidence. I want you to make 2022 the year when you can say "Even if a data disaster happens, I am prepared and have a plan to recover."

The book starts with a chapter titled Demystifying the Backup which explains all the jargon and buzzwords in plain English. Then it moves on to cover Free Backup Software, Backup Strategies, and chapters on Backing Up with Windows 10 and 11. I have tips on Backing Up Multiple Computers and a list of Easy Backup Drives that can start your automatic backups as soon as you plug them in.

Lots of people are interested in online backups. The chapter Online or Local Backup? helps you decide which is best for you. Free Online Backup Services and Free Cloud Backup Services will show you where to go for 100% free online backups. And my chapter Are Online Backup Services Safe? will set your mind at ease about the safety and security of online backups.

Other chapters deal with Backups for Social Networking, Gmail and other email, and Backup for Your Mobile Phone. I also have some tips on how to Protect Your Backups From Ransomware, and Recover Deleted Files (even when you don't have a backup)!

There are 79 chapters in all, concluding with a more detailed version of My Personal Backup Strategy and a very important chapter titled "You Can’t Take it With You." That discussion covers digital estate planning, and how to make sure your data is handled properly after you're gone. And finally, an Appendix called Backup FAQs in which I answer over two dozen of the best and most interesting questions from my survey on backups.

Plus, three BONUSES...

My AskBob Special Report: Money-Saving Consumer Tips has 60+ pages of practical advice on avoiding identity theft, getting free credit reports, cashing in on unclaimed funds, saving money on prescriptions, online shopping discounts, avoiding common scams, and much more. I'll show you how to ditch your landline, fire the phone company, and make free phone calls. You can even replace your expensive cable TV subscription with free or cheaper online services. If you use even a handful of these consumer tips, you could save hundreds of dollars. This ebook is a free bonus to go along with Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS.

BONUS REPORT #2 is The Best Free Software -- And Free Alternatives to Popular Commercial Software. Most people don't know the valuable secret I reveal in this report: there are excellent, FREE alternatives to many commonly used software titles! You'll find each program listed with a description of what it does, along with a link to download it. You can download them for free, and use them for free. No sneaky trials, no bill-me-later. I hope you'll find it informative, enjoyable and profitable to read through this report.

BONUS REPORT #3 is The Best Free Courses. In this report, you get my recommendations for free courses you can find online. Everyone knows that college is not cheap. But did you know that some college courses are free, online? Some of the most prestigious universities in the world offer thousands of courses free of charge to qualifying students, or to anyone with a Web browser.

I have a few last-minute tweaks to finish, so tomorrow, I'll reveal how to get your hands on Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS - 7th Edition, and a couple of other surprises. Stay tuned!

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