I Repair Your Computer

PC services throughout Crawley, Sussex & Surrey

15 Top Backup Tips

15 Top Backup Tips

9th in a series of 10 Tips


1. Never just remove a Memory Stick/Backup Device without first shutting it down
All USB ports are powered and if a device is unplugged before it is powered down it may short circuit and corrupt.
The biggest cause of memory stick failure is due to just pulling it out.
In the same way as memory sticks external hard drives have circuit boards which can also short circuit if not removed correctly.

2. Is your data critical for example End of Year? If it is and you are making CD/DVD’s Use CDR or DVDR Discs
It is very easy to overwrite a rewriteable CD/DVD.
A standard CD/DVD allows for the data to be written onto it once only and therefore cannot be amended.
However a CDRW and a DVDRW allow for multiple writes.
Important and date related items i.e. end of year accounts can be safely saved to CD/DVD and once saved cannot be edited.

3. Do you use Memory Sticks? If you do “NEVER” ever use them as your primary source of data.
Of all devices in use on a PD memory sticks are the most prone to failure.
Always use them as a backup. Create master on PC, copy to memory stick, copy to office PC, work on Office PC and save, copy to memory stick etc.
It is very expensive to try to recover data off a damaged memory stick and in most cases that fails.
If using an external hard drive that short circuits the drive can usually be removed from it’s caddy and data recovered.

4. Is what you are saving important to you? If “YES” never cut and paste to a backup device/memory stick always copy and paste.
If “YES” never cut and paste to a backup device/memory stick always copy and paste.
If you cut and paste and during the process something goes wrong you will lose your data however if you copy and paste first, check that the data is pasted ok then delete you will not lose anything.

5. The biggest cause of CD/DVD failure is dust on the reader lens or finger marks on the CD/DVD.
Most CD/DVD players have the laser sensor at the bottom so if not used regularly are prone to picking up dust etc.
Finger marks can cause the laser beam not to read the drive correctly so clean before inserting.
If too much dust builds up on the laser beam it is unable to read the beam correctly and will stop working.

6. Buy yourself a CD/DVD cleaning disk and use on a regular basis.
The quickest way to extend the life of a CD/DVD player is to regularly clean it using a CD/DVD cleaning disk.
The CD cleaning disk cleans whilst playing a piece of music or reading out some text.
A DVD cleaning disc cleans whilst playing a DVD.

7. It is very easy to Drag and Drop in Windows, so easy in fact that you can lose pictures/music files etc without realizing.
Take care when using drag and drop as you can inadvertently drag one folder into another and you think you have lost that folder.
When looking at folders in Windows Explorer if you see an arrow to the left of the folder it contains one or more folders so check there first if you think you have lost a folder etc.

8. SD Drives, known as Secure Digital, are the most common Memory used in Digital Cameras and when inserted into a card reader and then the PC they are recognized as a Hard Drive.
In recent years some devices now use a MicroSD card and many are supplied with adaptors to convert them to SD size.
If your PC is not fitted with a card reader then an adaptor can be purchased to enable you to plug them into a USB port.

9. iPods, iPhones, Windows Phones, etc these are all recognized by your PC as a Hard Drive.
When plugging in an external device e.g. a smartphone, a camera, a memory stick etc. they are all seen by the computer as Hard Drives so when going into Windows Explorer they are listed under My Computer (This PC) as drives.

10. External hard drives Laptop (2.5”) or Normal (3.5”). Again these are just large Memory Sticks
As per the previous slide any external hard drive irrespective of it’s size is seen as a hard drive and can be accessed in the same way as any other hard drive.

11. You could use a Network Attached Storage Device (NAS) for your backups
Most Network Attached Storage Devices are two or more drive enabling data to be saved on more than one disk at the same time.
Using the mirror option whatever is written to the drive clones to the second drive.
Therefore if one drive fails it can be replaced and all the data from the good drive copies back to it.

12. Use an external backup company
By using an external backup company, nowadays known as backing up to the cloud, you can save your important data off site and in the event of a catastrophic event (e.g. fire, flood, robbery) you can recover your data quickly from the external company.
Depending on the size of the data this process can take a very long time and if you have a limited broadband data package may not be a suitable option.

13. If using Tape backup clean tape head regularly and check data regularly. (Most prone to failure)
Tape backup were the most common method of backing up data but were also the most prone to failure. Check that your backup is working.
As with all tape devices a film is picked up off the tape that deposits on the pickup head and if this deposit becomes too thick the quality of the recording diminishes until it no longer records.
If using tape drives regular cleaning is required using a special cleaning tape to remove the deposits.

14. Use a combination of the above for peace of mind.
As with all systems it is best to have more than one backup option.
I personally use a combination of NAS and cloud storage because in my opinion that gives me the best backup for my needs.
No two users are the same so if you are not sure what is best for you ask a specialist for advice.

15. Never assume that your backup are always ok. Carry out random checks on your backups
For reasons already explained you may think that you have a valid backup but for whatever reason that may not be the case.
Our records show that 95% of our customers do not have adequate backup or never check that those backup are actually valid.
The backup device may be faulty or it may have run out of space. Either way carry out tests on your backups on a regular basis. Be SAFE not SORRY.