The Best Tools For Backing Up Your Computer’s Hard Drive

Most people don’t think about backing up their computer…until it’s too late.  Yes, you could go years without a problem and only have to transfer files when you purchase a new computer.  But what if the unexpected happens and you find yourself needing files that you can’t access because your computer isn’t working correctly, or worse, has been completely destroyed?  A number of different devices can help you back-up the important files on your computer (and even those iTunes songs that you think that you can’t live without).

Need to back up your most important data?  These are the best tools for the job:

External Hard Drives

The best tool for backing up important files is an external hard drive that can connect to your main computer hard drive via a USB port.  The advantage of this type of back-up is that USB hard drives can hold a lot of data (standard size is 32 GB, with some able to hold 1 TB in a book-sized drive that can easily fit in a backpack or briefcase).  These devices are becoming more and more cost effective for large back-up jobs.  It is possible to get a 1 TB drive for less than $100.  Companies like Seagate and Western Digital specialize in simple, high capacity external drives that  can easily be connected via a USB port to any computer.  Another advantage of these devices is that they can also be used to expand the available memory for a laptop or small computer.  Adding 1TB of memory for less than $100 is a great value when you consider how much it costs to buy a new computer or increase the memory of a current computer.

CD/DVD Discs

For smaller jobs, a simple burnable CD or DVD will be able to handle your back-up tasks.  The obvious advantage of these storage devices is their size.  They can be saved in a case, sent through the mail for little more than the cost of a single stamp, and read by virtually any computer.  Discs can be bought in bulk for larger jobs, and they are much cheaper than USB-connected external hard drives.  However, with standard capacity topping out at 3-4 gigabytes, these are not the types of tools that you need to handle large amounts of data.  Well known disc brands like Sony and Verbatim can provide the kind of quality that is necessary for important files.  There are even water-proof DVD and CD discs available from companies like JVC and Verbatim.  These can provide a little extra peace of mind to those who are nervous about damage to important files.

Online Options

The so-called cloud is the newest and one of the most useful tools for backing up a hard drive.  This type of service allows data and files to be stored online and accessed from any number of computers with a username and password.  Not having to worry about a physical device storing data can be a major positive.  A hard drive or CD could end up ruined or lost, while cloud-stored data will always be accessible.  Perhaps you’d feel that your most-private files don’t belong in an online storage service, but most are quite secure.  The catch: hosting a lot of data online can be expensive, so this might not be the most cost-effective option if you have large amounts of files to store.  Services like Dropbox, Zipcloud and MyPCCloud offer online storage for people who want to back-up their computers.  Even at these sites, storing large amounts of data can carry higher costs.  It can pay to do your research and make sure that the benefits outweigh the costs.

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