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Backup & Storage Guide

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On this page, take a look at your personal computer backup and storage choices, use links to comparative reviews of hardware, software and online services, and use links to how-to's.

Choices

  • Hardware-- Your basic choices for backing up the data on the hard disk in your computer include using a USB flash drive, CD or DVD optical disk, or another hard disk including portables, external, networked attached storage (NAS), RAID, or a home server. For an introduction, see Data backup: Use it or lose it,Consumer Reports, October 2007 -- hard drives, flash drives, optical drives, online services, pros and cons.
  • Software -- Options include selecting individual files & folders for backup, making an image backup of an entire HD, and/or incremental backup to replace or supplement old versions of files with new ones. To get started, see Tech Support Alert's lists of essential and desirable features of backup software and their backup FAQ; also see security below.
  • Local, Offsite, Online -- An external HD sitting on your desk is great if your computer's HD fails but if your house burns down not so much. Put a full backup in a fire proof safe at home, in a safe deposit box at your bank, and/or stored with an online service provider.
  • Two Are Better Than One -- First, do a full backup and then set up automatic incremental backups to a local device (see hardware above) and/or to an online service. Second, put a full copy of your archival data on a USB flash drive, CD, DVD or portable HD and secure it in a fireproof safe, safety deposit box and/or with an online storage service for offsite protection in case of flood, fire, theft, etc.
  • Security -- Scan your HD for malware (spy, Trojan, virus, worm, etc.) before backing up otherwise you could be backing up the malware too. Internet Security Suites from  BitDefender, Bullguard, CA, McAfee, Microsoft, Norton and Panda include backup modules. Norton 360 v4 also includes 2 GB of hosted online storage.

Notable

Comparative Reviews -- Hardware

Comparative Reviews -- Software

Comparative Reviews -- Online Services

How-To