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 4: Save Your entertainment
Good for: Photos, music, and video files
Recovery features: No versioning or full-system restore
Automatic off-site storage: No
How many gigabytes of multimedia files do you have? If you back up to an external hard drive or to a network-attached storage drive, large media files don't cause problems. But if your backup media has limited capacity (like a flash drive) or is slow to upload (like the internet), you may want to find another way to protect your folders of digital pictures, music, and video.
The best approach for you depends on how often your files change. If you edit them regularly, they are current documents and should be part of your daily backup routine. In that case, go with NAS backup; again the Synology DS209j is an excellent hardware choice for this purpose (see Strategy 3).
Things are simpler when you're dealing with files consisting of photos and videos that seldom change, or of music bought online. (In the case of music ripped from CDs, the original CD functions as a reliable backup version.) Incremental backups and versioning aren't issues here. You just need to make sure that the files exist in more than one place.
How you use these files protects you to some extent. Your likely to copy your music to a portable media player that may permit you to copy the files back. (The iPod doesn't allow this, but if you enter 'transfer from iPod to computer' into any search engine, you'll find plenty of workarounds.)
Posting your pictures on a photo-sharing site such as Flickr creates a temporary backup; but note the site's rules governing capacity, retention of original full-resolution images, and export of full-resolution images from the site back to your PC.
If you don't back up your music, photos, and videos daily, you need to copy them to something other than your internal hard drive. DVD-Rs and DVD+Rs cost little and work well, but an external hard drive is faster and holds everything without swapping. Either option works, so decide based on how much data you need to safeguard and how patient you are.
See all laptop reviews
NEXT PAGE: Preparing for disaster