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The 7 best ways to back up your PC

Methods that are (almost) infallible

Nobody likes backing up, but one day it'll save your bacon. Here are the seven most efficient methods of protecting your data, no matter what your situation.

Strategy 2: Automate your backup and store it at a safe distance

Good for: Your documents (including your recent documents), and application data

Frequency: Daily

Recovery features: Versioning but no full-system restore

Automatic off-site storage: Yes

A backup continuously connected to your computer is vulnerable to the same dangers that might threaten your PC, as is a backup kept in the same building as the PC.

But if your system rarely lacks a fast internet connection, an online backup service can perform completely automated backups that it saves to a server miles from your PC.

You don't have to purchase hardware or plug anything new into your computer, though you must install software. This arrangement gives you access to your data from any internet-enabled computer.

Backing up Windows and applications online is impractical, however, so online services don't offer that option.

A number of online backup services, such as Comodo and SpiderOak, are available, but I recommend Mozy for its versatile software and low price. As with Rebit, you can right-click a file in Windows Explorer and restore any version of it that Mozy has on hand.

The MozyHome service costs $5 (£3) per month per computer, with no storage limit per PC. The company also provides a professional service.

Internet backup services share some inherent flaws, starting with their being horribly, horribly slow. Your first, complete backup can take days or even weeks (you can work while it backs up). The agonisingly unhurried upload speed may explain why Mozy offers unlimited storage per PC.

Anyone trying to back up 500GB of video over the internet would soon give up. In general, if you use online backup, consider finding another medium for your large media files (see Strategy 4 for advice). But I do use the internet to back up photos.

For similar reasons, I don't recommend online backup services for people who work with music or video files. If you're editing a movie, for example, the daily backups will be much too large for a once-a-day upload to manage. Also consider cost. Although $5 (£3) per month per machine may sound cheap, with multiple systems the charges add up.

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NEXT PAGE: Backing up on your home network

  1. Methods that are (almost) infallible
  2. The easiest backup of all
  3. Storing your backup at a safe distance
  4. Backing up on your home network
  5. Save your entertainment
  6. Preparing for disaster
  7. Storing in the long-term
  8. Backing up your backup

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