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How often should you backup your computer?

I've heard that there are only two types of computer users in the world. The first type is the person who has had their computer crash. The second type is the person who will have their computer crash....

Before going to bed on Saturday night, I turned off my computer. I never turn off my computer at night - I want it to be ready for me in the morning. I do not want to wait for my email to download and other programs to start up. For some reason, I turned off my computer Saturday night.

Sunday morning I pushed the power button. Nothing happened. It has been a while since I've actually pushed the power button to turn on my computer, but when the push of the button did not result in the computer turning on, I instantly panicked and thought, "when did I last back up my computer?"

Fortunately I did have a backup of everything on an external hard drive, but it was about two months old. I've done a lot in the past two months. I took hundreds of digital pictures on our Legacy Cruise to Europe. I've added a few dozen new people to my personal Legacy file. And I've received thousands of emails. All of this would be lost if I had to revert to my most recent backup.

It turns out that the power supply inside my computer failed. A new one only cost $39.95 to replace. But just imagine if something worse had happened and I lost two months of my history.

The solution is pretty simple, and it just takes a few extra minutes to set up my backup software, Acronis True Image Home, to create an incremental backup every day. After backing up my entire computer to my external hard drive, each daily incremental backup will only backup those files that are new or have changed since the last incremental backup. This saves time when creating backups, and best of all, it can be completely automated. I have now set up the software to make an incremental backup every evening at 2AM (I'm usually asleep by then...).

I still have not had a "computer crash", but when I do, now I will not have as much to worry about. What do you do to backup your computer?


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Your comments about backup are very important. I regularly tell people that if they don't care about their data, they should not back it up. Usually they get the point. One thing that I would add to your memo is that a proper backup should alternate between two external drives. Do one backup on the first external drive, then use the second external hard drive for the next backup. The third backup would be on the first external drive, etc. This way, if the backup fails mid-process, you will still have the previous backup.

This topic never wears out. And that's a good thing.

Now with the price of flash-drives so low, I'm able to have all my ancestor files, including many pictures (but not all as that would run to 40 GB or so) source documents, Passage Express projects, my genealogy wikis and a copy of my Legacy folder, on 2 flash-drives totaling 12 GB. They go in my pocket whenever I leave my house.

I also carry all my password information (about 300 entries) as well as all my other personal information (have scanned all personal papers) and contacts. That's everything critically important in about the size of a pack of gum.

At home I have 2 external hard-drives and I do incremental backups everyday using Syncback. (The freeware version is also excellent.) It takes only seconds to set up backup profiles with a wide variety of options.

Oh, and I also back up everything online at Mozy.

Keep copies of valuable data in a bank vault or, if the data is not sensitive, at a friend's house (alternatively, encrypt it and leave it at your friend's house). When your house burns down or the burglars remove your computer and all the external hard drives and flash drives you will be glad that a copy of your data is somewhere else.

Could not agree more. I for one would not look forward to reloading 370 CDs onto the computer and what about my last 8 years photos of the kids - priceless. Daily incremental backups to network hard drive and also 69GB backed up to Carbonite.com in case the house burns down! Had a hard drive failure last year and was back up and running within hours.

I will tell you what your are saying is so important an external hard drive for the purpose of backing up my genealogy collections.
I had my laptop battery go out and it burned out my laptop in the process, once you lose everything once, you learn the hard way, trying to re invent your ged.com from scratch! It is very good to store photos on, cost me about $50.00 and was worth every penny.
When My new computer got a virus, I was ok, I run a back up now every two weeks or anytime I add a significant amount of new information to my files.

I have had multiple computer crashes and cannot agree more with everything each person has added. I now have 3 flash drives(totaling 4G), and an external drive (80G) and I have FINALLY gotten in the habit of making a backup of my system EVERY TIME I add information. I have even completed a backup in the middle of entering information due to power surges that cause information to become lost.

I too have lost my data and now use an external hard drive for routine backups, but when I decided to go totally digital with a large database (including pic's, doc's, etc.) I had a few nightmares about what might happen if mother nature stepped in with (wildfire, earthquake) that I wouldn't be able to even retrieve my external drive. Finally found "Peace of Mind" through Carbonite.com which does automatic offsite backups.

My last crash 3 months ago motivated me a lot! I started a regular back-up of my genealogy files with images. I have WinZip-10 to do it automatically evey day at 6:30pm. Its my meal time, I can see it work and it takes only a couple of minutes. Two other WinZip jobs do my E-mail files and business files. I have three hard drives in my tower, and I should alternate the backups according to the advice written above.

I have worked on my family history off and on for the past 30 years. I am an only child, I have no children, and my cousins have no interest in the information that I have compiled.

What plans should I make for this information upon my death? And how should it be done since there are boxes of information?

Thank You, for your information.

Your power supply probably failed because you left it on all the time. Believe it or not, leaving it on all the time will also slow things to a halt especially older computers. Only on occasion have I left mine on for a couple of days. Sometimes you just have to reboot even if it takes forever to load everything like mine does.

I'm a stickler for backing up everything no matter what it is. I've had a few hard drive crashes over the years, but fortunately had a more recent backup of about two days old (better than several months).

I use Norton Ghost which backups up your entire hard drive(s), then will create incremental backups after the initial backup. It can be set to work on a schedule or manually. I also backup uncompressed files to DVDs. Ghost backs up to an external drive which is only used for that purpose.

I have backups of all of my genealogy data files for both my genealogy programs going back about 10 years. I wouldn't want to ever go back that far, but it's good to have anyway. Genealogy data is backed up with either program each time I use them, then stored to DVDs.

When I make additions or changes to my Legacy file, I email my file to myself through a gmail account. I like knowing it's out there on the internet. I can also retrieve it from there when I'm at a family history center or at someone's house.

I was under the impression that you just need to backup the data--not the programs themselves--as long as you have the software for the programs. Am I wrong??

Coralee mentioned backing up her emails. How does one do that if your using Outlook Express? Or which email program lets you back up your email easily?

Sheila, the data IS key, but trying to recover and get up and running again (which for most of us is a major difficulty, does require the programs but also the little files that connect with Windows, etc.) is why total backup is so important. It allows us to get back into operation efficiently.

Carla, the email program Eudora lets you easily backup your emails.

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