What is it about making backups that’s so hard? Not the actual process of creating a backup of important data, but the habit of backing up seems to be one of the biggest challenges in computing. I get a fair number of questions from people who need to recover files they’ve either deleted accidentally or lost due to a crash. Each time I want to ask why they didn’t make a backup in the first place.
Whether you use something free like the batch process copy operation I setup to copy my Outlook PST file or a feature rich backup solution like my personal favorite, Second Copy, the point is you should be backing up your files at least once every day. Free solutions don’t always expose some of the obvious features, like checking for duplicates, while the pay solutions offer the roadblock of having a small expense associated with them.
Most of us wouldn’t ever think of going without insurance to protect against loss of our possessions due to a fire, or the liability of getting in an auto accident, so why are so many people willing to throw the dice on their personal data? There are unforeseen events that happen that make even a great backup strategy fail, but those are rare compared with losing data because there was no backup in the first place.
If you have a backup plan in place, pat yourself on the back and skip the rest of this rant. If you don’t currently have a backup plan, stop reading this, go shopping for an external hard drive and download backup software to copy your My Documents folder and your email at the very minimum. SyncBack is a good place to start is you prefer freeware. I personally like the flexibility of Second Copy because it allows me to do things like run applications before and after certain backup operations. The primary reason I recommend an external drive over something like using blank DVD or DVD-RW media is because those ultimately require human intervention to sustain. Minimizing the human intervention in a backup plan helps make sure the backup plan doesn’t get sidetracked at some point.