Just about everyone’s experienced file loss of one type of another. The worst is when a system crashes, is damaged, or is stolen, and the files can’t be recovered, and you lose everything. But even accidental deletion or overwriting one file can mean precious memories gone forever or tons or rework you have to do to recreate something.

Backing up your data regularly is crucial to avoiding loss of important files, like vacation photos and videos, work projects, and game saves. But not everyone knows the best way to back up efficiently that isn’t time consuming or prone to errors.

We’re often called in to try to recover files when a PC crashes. Michalek Tech Help is one of the top computer repair shops serving the southern half of Kansas City, and whether it’s hard drive replacement and backup or custom desktop upgrades, we provide quality and affordable service.

One thing we stress to our clients is the importance of a regular and reliable backup system for all of their devices, so files are protected no matter what. Mobile devices now hold many of our most treasured memories, so backups need to accommodate a variety of devices these days.

Dangers that face all computer users and that can wipe out their data include viruses and malware (like ransomware) that are engineered to damage or encrypt files. And while you may think you’re covered with your backup, if you’re not vigilant, you might find your files aren’t as recoverable as you thought.

Only 42% of ransomware victims report being able to recover data from their backup. (Barkly)

Do you have a false sense of security with a backup system that might not be doing the job? We’ll get into some common do’s and don’ts about backup management shortly, but first let’s see what a good backup system looks like.

What does a good backup program look like?

  • Backs up automatically (eliminating the need to remember to backup)
  • Has more than enough capacity for your needs
  • Provides space alerts when backup capacity is being reached
  • Can handle backup of mobile, desktops, laptops

Types of Computer Backups & Which is the Best

Let’s take a look at several common backup options and which is the best all-round for efficiency and knowing your data is there when you need it.

First, here are some common do’s and don’ts when it comes backing up the right way:

  • Do: Ensure you’re not running out of space
  • Don’t: Leave an automated backup running without ever checking it for errors
  • Do: Check restore requirements (such as if your backup and computer need to be on the same operating system version)
  • Don’t: Never test the restore capability before an emergency hits
  • Do: Use a system that’s easy to search
  • Don’t: Assume nothing will go wrong and you’ll just back up later

We’ll start with the least convenient and reliable and move up to the best type of backup system to use.

CD/DVD

This method is going the way of the dinosaurs, but some people still rely on writable CD’s/DVD’s for copying and saving their data.

Problems include:

  • It’s a manual process, thus easy to forget to do a backup
  • Disks can be damaged or lost
  • Not easily searchable
  • Long recovery process due to CD/DVD limitations
  • Severely limited in their disk space
  • Can’t use with mobile devices
  • Disk drives are being phased out of newer computers

Flash Drives/USB

While less prone to being damaged or scratched than CD and DVDs, flash drives are a small step up as a backup device. They do generally offer a lot more space and you don’t have to worry about USB ports being phased out anytime soon, but they do still have limitations.

Problems include:

  • It’s still a manual process that you have to remember to do
  • Flash drives are typically small and easy to lose
  • Not easily searchable
  • Faster recovery process than CD/DVD, but longer than other types of backups

Local External Hard Drive

Moving up to the more reliable methods, using a local hard drive that connects to your computer via cable or wirelessly can make the backup process much more automated and give you the ability to back up multiple devices easily.

Benefits include:

  • Automated process
  • Large capacity
  • Easy restore process
  • Can handle computers and mobile devices
  • Can backup via wired or wireless connections

Drawbacks include:

  • Can still be easily lost (especially the more compact models)
  • Still need managing to make sure it hasn’t hit an error that stops backing up

Cloud-Based

Cloud-based backups offer many of the same benefits as external hard drives, with the additional protection of being accessible from anywhere since they’re cloud-based. So, your files are protected off-site in the case of a flood, fire, or other catastrophe.

Benefits include:

  • Automated process
  • Easily scalable to add more space when you need it
  • Easy restore process
  • Can handle computers and mobile devices
  • Easily keyword searchable

Drawbacks include:

  • You need an internet connection to access it
  • You’re relying on a third party who is storing your files

Our Verdict for the Best Way to Back Up Your Computer

It’s best to us a dual-method to ensure you’re covered no matter what. Michalek Tech Help recommends using both an external hard drive and a cloud-based system.

By using both, you’re getting the best of both worlds, you both have your data in your hands if you need to access it offline, and it’s safe in the cloud and you can get to it from any internet connected device. Plus, you’re doubly covered in the event of a crashed or lost computer or mobile device.

Need Help with File Backup and Recovery?

Our experts can assist you with urgent data recovery needs and also help you put the right backup system in place to keep all your files safe.

Contact us for expert IT help anytime at 816-582-9317 or online.