With the increasing amounts of data that people are creating (photos, videos and other documents.)  The need for backing up that data has never been greater.

On a computer the one component that still has moving parts and is most likely to fail is the hard drive. If you starting taking the mindset that at some point a hard drive will fail, then backup planning will be taken far more seriously.

There are two types of backups one can do.  Image backup and a file level backup.

Image backups take a snapshot or image of the entire hard drive.


  • The advantage to this is that if there is a complete hard drive failure then the machine can be restored fairly quickly without the need to reinstall every applications.


  • Longer to do, it can be more complicated to set things up for the restore.
  • One should test before the restore is needed to ensure no problems crop up.
  • It can be difficult or impossible to restore just one file or directory.
  • File level backup are done by copying directories or files, usually subsequent backups only take any files that are new or changed.

File level backups backs up the data on a file by file level.


  • Faster (after the first backup) as only data that is new or changed is backed up.
  • Very easy to restore 1 file or directory from the backup.


  • If the entire computer needs to be restored.  The operating system and other applications will need to be restored first which will take time.

Try and have at least two backups, an onsite and offsite backup.  If there is a disaster such as your house burning down then your computer as well as your onsite backups would be destroyed. Having an offside backup eliminates the problem by having a separate copy of your data in another physical location.

Depending on the importance of your data you would make an offsite backup from once a day to once a week. It’s up to the user to decide the importance of the data. If you have to only have one backup then take it offsite when possible.

Some people use online backup or cloud backup for their most critical files.  Online backup sends your data encrypted via the internet to a remote server.  Since there is the issue of bandwidth, usually only the most critical files will be stored in this manner.  Several choices are available, such as Carbonite.com.

In future posts I will be going into more detail about backing your data and some recommended practices.