Whether or not to back up computer files is not a question that even needs to be asked as we all need backups. You need a backup to protect you from what will happen! Your hard drive will die, you will get a virus, or you will just delete some important file by mistake.
I give lots of talks and when I ask someone when was the last time they backed up their files, I always get, "Hmm… let me think about that." Ask yourself when you backed yours up last. Yesterday, last week, last month, never? Why don't you back up? Is it too hard? Is your reason "I just don't think about it"? Are you lazy? I believe it's because no one taught you to back up! So, here you go — my top five reasons to back up your computer.
1. Back up because it protects you.
2. Back up because it saves you time.
3. Back up because you have data you cannot replace.
4. Back up because you have photos you cannot replace.
5. Back up because it will save you MONEY.
Not having a backup will cost you lots of money and time — just think about the cost of going to a computer shop and having them rebuild your computer from scratch. What do they get an hour — $100? $150 or more? How many hours would it take to rebuild your computer — three hours? Six? Eight? Do you have the original disks? Some people faced with this decision just buy a new computer as it's cheaper than the labor charge, but what about the software and data you've lost? You need to have a backup process and run it regularly.
Now that I explained why it's important to back up, let's talk about what you can do. My solution has two steps.
Step 1. Make an image copy of your computer. This means make a full copy of your computer so if you have a major issue you can rebuild your computer quickly (great for hard drive failure). There are other solutions out there — I'm just showing you one that you could use.
Here's a solution that's free — it's a program called Reflect Free. It'll make an image file of your computer so that if you lose your data due to a failure you can quickly re-image it and be up and running in minutes, not days. You need to make an updated image every time you install new hardware or software; then you can just use another backup process to back up the changed data. Reflect Free can be found at Macrium Software's web site.
Step 2. Run a backup at least once a week; daily would be better. You use a backup utility to do this (you could use the built-in backup program that came with your operating system, or if you have a spare USB drive you can also use the Clickfree Transformer (or the Monster cable version). This hardware product connects your computer to an external USB drive and automatically backs up all your data files.
There is also a solution that combines these two steps into one process. You can purchase a hardware solution that will automate the complete solution, Seagate Replica, for example. You buy this solution for one computer or you can buy a version that protects multiple computers. You connect via USB and it does all the work for you ( makes a backup and keeps any changes you make to your system backup in real time)!
Follow the above steps and you can sleep soundly knowing your computer is backed up. If you do not want to do this, then at least use a USB flash drive and copy your important files to that so if you need a copy you have one. You can also use online backup services to backup your data (but not your applications). Examples of these services include Box and IDrive.
Do yourself a favor — pick a solution, and start NOW. Back up your files!