5 Ways to Back-up Your Files

If you take a look at the picture to the left, you’ll see what’s left of my external hard drive – the one I used to ‘back-up’ some of my files. No, it didn’t explode – but it might as well have – had it not been for a friend and very talented computer whiz who was able to retrieve all my files for me after the drive simply quit working. He was able to retrieve the equivalent of several years work by taking the drive completely apart and then using a special program to retrieve and save everything!

After talking to my friend, I now have better information about backing up files, i.e., the different ways to do this, and about how many ‘back-ups’ are needed.   All of this I think worthy of sharing with you in case this is something you’re not doing or maybe – like me – are not doing correctly.

Back-Up Methods

There are several ways to back-up your files – which method you choose will depend on how much you want to back up and what your budget can afford. The most common methods of back-up:

  • Off site like Carbonite, Dell, Amazon, etc.
  • External hard drive
  • Jump drives
  • CD / DVD
  • Memory Stick

Each one of these has good and bad features. Below, we’ll cover a bit about each.

Off Site Back-Up

The first thing you think of here is “how much does it cost”. You’ll find you have to pay for off-site back-up and in some cases not all paid back-ups are equal. Some providers will only back-up the files you have selected, others will back-up everything on all computers and there are those that charge when and if you need to download your stored files. If this is the route you go, be sure to read all the fine print. Another issue here is to schedule the back-up so it doesn’t interfere with your work and you’ll also need to leave your computer on for access at that time.

External Hard Drives

An external hard drive –  like  Toshiba   – connects through your computer’s USB port. There are a two types of external hard drives – powered and un-powered. The powered drive has it’s own source of power via an electrical connection – just like you would plug in any other electrical appliance making it functional in basically one location. In addition, it may have internal, pre-programmed software that runs the drive. You do not have access to this software and should you have a problem with the drive (like we did) you have no way to circumvent the pre-programed functions of the drive. Have a problem with this piece of equipment and you’ll have to call a professional like we did. While these drives can be purchased to hold huge quantities of files (terabytes) – you are limited in its use and should you buy one that runs at a fast speed you are at risk for the drive to overheat. That being said, this method is not a preferred back-up.

When looking for an external hard drive, look for a portable drive. This type of drive uses power via the computer’s USB port. Another good feature of this type of drive is that you can take it with you anywhere and they are available with varying memory size.

Jump Drives

These are quick and easy to use and have become available with more memory. These drives – some by Lexar or Adata –  are easy to carry, store and you can easily move them from computer to computer.


Burning your files to a CD or DVD (more space) is another way to back-up files. However, you may have limited space and you’ll also need a good place to store them.

Memory Stick

This is the same type of  memory stick you see used in many digital cameras. And while they are easily transported, you’re very limited in amount of storage and can get lost if you’re not careful.


So how many back-ups do I now have? How about three (3). My friend recommended three and after what all I’ve been through these last couple of weeks thinking I’d lost years of work – I’m listening to him. I’ll be doing regular back-ups and labeling each one with the date so I’ll know just what I’ve got . And, I’m keeping one copy in a fireproof safe.

On another note, for those that use Host Gator   as their service provider, you should back-up your domain(s) periodically too. This is done through the cPanel and is another way to keep your files safe.

Final thought from the ‘expert’ – when you’re not using these back-up drives; unplug them from the USB port.

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