SocketHop: Free Backup Solutions
Written by Bwog Staff
Nothing stings quite as much as that whirrr-click-click-click sound when you try to boot up your newly-purchased laptop. Blank screens and corrupted data have sent many Columbians into hysterical fits. Do yourself a favor; spend an hour and earn permanent peace-of-mind.
| Photo via Typepad
Backing up up your files is as essential to mainstream computing as oil-filter changes are for your (sorely missed) car. The truth is, far too many people forgo backup, usually because they assume that computers never crash.
If you own a computer, your hard drive will crash at some point in its life. You should be prepared. Today, Bwog presents five 100% free solutions for saving your life’s work, online and on your own hard drives.
Mac & Windows: MozyHome Online Backup
Mozy is an online backup solution that has one huge advantage over local (i.e., on a separate hard drive next to your computer) backup: online backup preserves your data even in the result of catastrophe (waterfalls) or theft. The free version of Mozy allows you two gigabytes (roughly 100,000 Word documents) of online storage.
Setup is simple and easy; download and install, and the backup wizard will take you through the rest. It will automatically suggest file types for you to back up, but if you want, you have a broad range of controls over what (and when) things get backed up.
Two gigabytes is enough for your documents, but probably not for your music and pictures. For that, upgrade to a paid account ($4.95/mo) or try one of these local backup solutions.
For local backups, it’s pointless to backup to a folder on your computer – if your hard drive crashes, your backup goes too. You’ll need something like a USB thumb drive or an external hard drive to store the backed-up files. It’s not nearly as scary as it sounds- an external hard drive is simply a device you can plug into the USB port on your computer. The cheapest external drives start around $60 and are probably big enough for most people’s files. Pros can save money by purchasing OEM (meaning no packaging or literature- just the raw hardware) hard drives and an external enclosure separately.
Windows only: SyncToy, Personal Backup
The easiest backup solution for Windows XP is made by Microsoft. Developed as an add-on for Windows, Microsoft SyncToy 2.0 is extremely simple. Select a folder to backup and select a place to put it, and SyncToy will synchronize the two. Various easy-to-understand options can tweak the backup style. There’s no scheduling, however; your backups will have to be started manually.
For the power user, Bwog heartily recommends the generically named Personal-Backup. It has a huge array of options and automation that will satisfy any user. It’s not for the fainthearted, however; the few bugs that remain in the current version will require some experimentation to understand.
Mac OS X only: Time Machine, Super Duper
One of the snazzy new features in the latest version of OS X, Leopard 10.5 (sorry, Tiger users), is a bundled piece of backup software called Time Machine. As far as backup solutions go, Time Machine is as simple as it gets. As the official description says, simply plug in your external drive and select it for backup at the prompt. Time Machine will take care of the rest and you’ll never have to worry about it again.
For those of you who want more flexibility, a time-tested alternative is SuperDuper, which gives you much more control over the backup. For automatic scheduling, however, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version ($27.95 one-time).