Infosec Home at The University of West Georgia

Log On

Backing-up Data

 Some years ago, it may have been the dog that ate the homework. Nowadays, when homework has gone missing, it’s likely the cat that walked across the keyboard, expertly hitting the ‘delete’ key. Power surges, floods, equipment failures, any number of reasons could be the cause of data loss. Or is it simply those important files were not backed up when they should have been?

Backing up data means copying files to an outside source so that they will not be lost. At UWG, files that are stored on servers are backed up automatically. However, files stored on computer hard drives, are not. It goes without saying that important data, which is kept on a work or home computer’s hard drive, should be backed up regularly. In turn, the backed up files should be stored in a safe place. It is a personal choice to determine which files should be backed up, but in general financial records, school related work, family digital photographs, projects you’re working on at home or at work, music and software purchased/downloaded from the Internet and address books ought to be considered.

The means by which to backup a system is a matter of doing research and deciding what works best in an individual situation. Back up media includes external hard drive, flash memory (USB stick), CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, zip drive … it is even possible to use a web based or online service. Each possibility carries its own risk and it is important to research these as well. Flash memory is easily lost (or washed!), copying to disks is a solution that can be very expensive and while using an online service at a low monthly fee may seem ideal, the service may shut down without notice to its customers. The best option is using an external hard drive. There are many different kinds of software you can use to back up your system but typically an operating system such as Windows XP (or Vista) itself offers to run backups. For a tutorial on how to use this feature, go to this site: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/setup/maintain/backupfiles.mspx

Everybody knows that backing up your computer is important, yet most people don’t do it. It takes some effort and time to make the backups. Storing the actual backup device is also an issue, especially when it comes to those things, which really are irreplaceable, like financial records or family photos. It might need to be kept in a fireproof safe or bank vault, which adds extra cost. But before you make decisions like that, the first and most vital step to retaining an important file is to back it up!