Byte Me Article 123 – Get on the front foot and back-up your PC

Get on the Front Foot and Back-Up Your PC

How do you structure and store your important computer files?  Firstly the IT industry refers to these files as ‘user data’ and they are mostly comprised of ‘files’ that you create yourself.  User data can be simply a bunch of Word documents, Excel spread sheets, emails, databases such as tax package or a customer relationship manager – even the photos from your own camera are lumped into the category of user data.

Apart from these files that you have created, user data can also comprise files that someone gave you on a memory stick or ones that you have downloaded from the Internet or through email which again may contain documents, photos, music etc.  If you own a scanner and copy all of your purchase receipts (when the product carries a warranty for instance) then this also adds to your user data.  So what files aren’t in this broad category?

Window system files, software program files, installation files or driver files or basically anything that you can regain again from a software CD or by downloading from a software company are not classed as user data.  These later files are far less important as they can be easily regained.  So computers are great at storing huge amounts of user data, but it is how this data is structured and how it is also backed up that becomes vitally important.

2013-05-04 Byte Me Article 123 - What is user data

Computer users need to understand that whether you have a laptop, PC or a server, files of EVERY type are stored internally on a hard drive which is approximately a cigarette box sized internal part.  The term ‘hard drive’ – often misused to describe the entire computer tower, traditionally has a system of rotating metallic platters storing your data as tiny magnetic fields.

More recently solid state drives (SSD’s) which operate like a large USB memory stick, are replacing mechanical hard drives in laptops and PC’s.  However drives of either type are subject to totally unexpected failures.  When this happens it can be near impossible to retrieve any of your user data – hence the need for regular backups.  So this leads to the next question – how and what do I backup?

External hard drives have become very affordable and can be purchased for less than $100.  You can manually copy and paste your most important user data to them on a regular basis or you can use the generic ‘backup’ software that some of these drives come with.  Generic backup solutions normally take a copy of your entire computer and then keep updating any changes to this first copy.  This process can often takes hours to complete and it can be an extremely complex process if you need to retrieve this information.

The ‘Windows Backup’ software already built into the latest versions of Windows is a better option and again if you know what you are doing – an external hard drive and the Windows Backup can form a very useful backup option.  We have also developed our own backup software which we have to install on a PC by PC basis, which targets ALL of your user data and takes on average only 10 seconds to complete a full back up to an external hard drive.

Next week we will talk about how to ‘structure’ your user data for maximum efficiency and convenience as well as what data storage pitfalls to avoid.

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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