Backup you Data – You can't afford not to!

I was prompted to write this when I heard the news of a friend who had her laptop and iPod stolen when her house was broken into. I hope it will help you think through how worthwhile it is to establish a backup procedure to prevent data loss.

One of the effects of the rise of PCs is that documents and multimedia that would have once been distributed between the office, living room, car, bedroom and desk are all stored on our computers.

Types of data on our computers
Academic work (essays, dissertation, lecture notes), documents (lists, recipes, health records, financial data, contact info) and media (music, photos, videos, audio recordings).

How data gets lost
Hardware failure (electrical surge, wear and tear), virus attack, theft, fire, flood or earthquake.

Backup options
A backup works by copying data and storing it somewhere so it can be used to restore the original in the event of data loss. Options:

  • Online backup
  • External hard disk
  • DVD stored off-site

A comparison of the three options follows my recommendation.

My recommendation
Combine online backup with DVD stored off-site.

  1. Sign up* for a free 2GB account with Mozy online backup using Use this to backup your really important but small file size data. Set it to automatically do a backup every day.
  2. Burn the music and videos on your computer onto DVDs and store them at a friend’s place. Update this regularly.


Good Bad
  • Free
  • Off-site
  • Easy to use
  • Scheduled automatic backups
  • Limited storage space – 2GB probably won’t allow you to backup all your music/videos/documents
External hard drive
  • Large storage – backup all your music/videos/documents
  • Reasonably priced (500GB for under £50)
  • Easy to use
  • Vulnerable to theft, fire, hardware failure
  • Need to remember to do backup manually
DVD stored off-site
  • Cheap (100 for £10)
  • Large storage – each DVD holds 4.7GB
  • Need to remember to do backup manually
  • Need to transfer DVD/CDs off-site regularly

* Disclaimer: I do have a vested interest in getting people to sign up with Mozy. Mozy’s referral scheme means that each person that signs up using my referral link ( gets me an additional 250MB of backup storage. Don’t let this put you off – I would still recommend it even if I didn’t get any benefit!


3 Responses to “Backup you Data – You can't afford not to!”

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write this. I have backed up 5 chapters of my thesis on 2 USBs. Never realised there was such a thing as online backup

  2. Hard disks spoil all the time. You’ll never know when will it spoil. Accidents can cause data loss also, whether it’s dropping your hard disk or pressing ctrl+a & shift + delete. It’s recommended to backup all important files cause you’ll never know when will it happen to you.

  3. Nice article. I totally need to do this, since my last laptop crashed, though thankfully I was able to get everything off of it. Now that I have a Mac, it has this nifty thing called “Time Machine” where it backs up everything automatically in the background, as long as you’re plugged into an ext. HDD, or a wireless HDD. I think there’s similar … Read morethings for the PC, too.

    We were just talking about this, because a plane ran off the runway here in Colorado, and I said, “Man, I’d grab my laptop before I got off, I don’t care what they say! Because I haven’t backed it up recently!!” =)

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