How do I backup my data?

Backing up your data is a critical exercise in system health. Just think: what data do you keep on your system? Word processor documents, spreadsheets, financial information, saved games, MP3s, movies, Internet favorites, emails, etc. What would you do if all of that were suddenly erased?

Total system failures are not common, but some of today’s backup options are so cheap that being able to restore data from just one crash will justify the expense. Backup options also double as methods for transporting your files to different locations.

Today you can choose from a number of backup options, each coming in internal and external flavors. Internal drives install directly into your system, while external drives connect to your system via a cable. Choose an internal drive for speed; choose an external drive for portability. For both options, make sure you have the connection/port type that the drive requires. You don’t want to purchase a drive only to find out that you can’t connect it!

Here are some available backup options, ordered from lowest to highest capacity:

Floppy Drive

Don’t laugh; the venerable 3.5” floppy drive still has its uses, and floppy disks are dirt cheap nowadays. If all you need to backup are a couple of Word documents, then floppy drives are the way to go. Each disk can hold 1.44 megabytes, or about 5 or 6 large Word documents. Floppy drives no longer come standard on Velocity Micro systems because the day is fast approaching when this technology will be (all but) obsolete.

CD-R/W Drive

CD-R media is a great means of backing up large amounts of data. CDs today hold 750 megabytes of data, or about 520 floppy disks. Easy-to-use software combined with inexpensive media make CD-R backups the choice for the home user. Nowadays a full 750MB CD can be created in less than five minutes. Velocity Micro provides CD-R/W option on most of its systems.

Zip Drive

Think of Zip drives as supercharged floppy drives. Zip drives use Zip disks and you can read/write to the disk as easily as you can do a floppy drive. Zip drives/disks come in three formats: 100MB, 250MB, and 750MB. Each drive will support disks with lower capacity but not higher capacity.

DVD ± R/W Drive

At 4.7 gigabytes, DVDs can hold about six CDs worth of information. Dual-layered DVDs hold twice as much, coming in at an astounding 9.4 gigabytes. DVDs are fast becoming the backup method of choice for digital media users (video, photography, graphics, etc). You can even play burned DVDs on your home DVD player. Velocity Micro provides a DVD +/- R/W option on most of its systems.

Tape Drive

Tape drives use enormous amounts of compression to store data on a tape cartridge. Cartridge sizes can range into the hundreds of gigabytes, making them perfect for mission-critical data servers. Home usage is a bit out of the question, as the higher-end drives retail for hundreds of dollars. Still, if you run a home business, tape drives provide hassle-free methods of backing up your data. Most tape drives provide software for automatically backing up your data. This backup solution has largely been replaced by more affordable external hard drives.

Other External Drives

External USB hard drives are more and more affordable as are Firewire and eSATA. These are excellent targets for backup files because of their high storage capacity and high-speed data transfer rates.

Server/Network Backup

Similar to external hard drives, backups may be made to storage drives on your home network, or on your Windows Home Server, allowing up to 4GB of storage, or more.

Visit PCMAG.COM for an excellent article on The Best Backup Tools.