External Hard Drive For Backups
I'm planning to buy an external hard drive to use for backups. What hardware and software do you recommend for reliable and simple backups?
Use an External Hard Drive For Your Backups
Making frequent backups of your critical data is important, everyone agrees. But often it doesn't get done regularly because "it's a hassle." The easier you make backing up data, the more reliably you will do it. When it comes to backups, the easiest way is often an external hard drive.
External drives make backups easy and fast because they're just like internal drives. Data doesn't have to be reformatted, compressed, sorted, etc. You can just make a mirror copy of your internal hard drive onto the external one. Connecting external drives with a USB or Firewire cable couldn't be easier, and because data isn't traveling over a network, files are copied at maximum speed.
It's a good idea to keep multiple historical copies of your internal hard drive on an external drive in case the most recent copy is corrupted or infected with malware. You can keep restoring earlier copies until you find a "clean" one. So an external drive used for backup should be large - the larger, the better, within reason and budget.
It's one thing to copy data files to an external drive so you can restore them if they are damaged on your internal drive. It is quite another thing to clone your internal drive so that, if it ceases to work, you can just plug the backup drive into your computer and get right back to work. Another advantage of cloning a hard drive is that it's simple. You don't have to pick and specify which files you want to back up, just choose a drive letter and let it be cloned exactly, with everything included.
Paragon Hard Disk Manager, Acronis True Image, Terabyte Unlimited's Image for Windows, and Drive Snapshot are popular (and pricey) drive imaging/cloning programs.
External Drives Bundled with Backup Software
Even if you have the best intentions and the right hardware, there's no guarantee you'll remember to do backups when needed. Fortunately, many external hard drives come with free software that makes setting up automatic backups as simple as a few clicks.
Seagate, a leading name in hard drives, offers the Replica line of external drives specifically designed for backup/restore operations. What I like about Replica is that you get a continuous, automatic backup of your hard drive. That's different than other systems that make a backup only on a certain schedule. If you change a file on your hard drive, it will be backed up by Replica in real time. Another great feature is that there's nothing to configure. Just plug it in, click OK, and you're done. The software loads automatically from the drive, and your backups start immediately. The 250GB Replica is PC-only and has an MSRP of $129, but I found it for $79 at TigerDirect.
Western Digital recently launched their new Passport line of external hard drives, which also come with no-fuss automatic backup software. The My Passport Essential and My Passport for Mac come with SmartWare, which does automatic backups and offers password protection on the backup drive.
Other products such as the CMS Automatic Backup System and the Clickfree Automatic Back-Up External Hard Drive offer simple automated solutions that combine an external hard drive with backup software.
Have you used an external hard drive to back up your files? Post a comment below and tell me your experience…
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Nov 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- External Hard Drive For Backups (Posted: 19 Nov 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved