Selecting a good Windows Backup Software
By Dr. Dallas E. Hinton
There is a vast collection of
software for backing up your data. The challenge is to choose a
backup software that suits your computer needs and that fits
with the way that you work.
Almost any backup program you
choose will do a full backup. A good program will allow you to
select a set of files
and/or folders to back up so that you donít have to do a full
backup every time. Most programs provide scheduling so that
backups can be run automatically.
Many also provide for incremental and/or differential
backups, meaning that instead of backing up everything, only the
files that are changed get backed up. This feature makes for
much faster backups although you should do a full backup of your
computer from time to time. When checking the specifics on a
backup program you may want to consider how much CPU load it
will use. This can be important if youíre going to be using the
computer while the backup is running. Itís also important to
consider the storage method. Many backup programs use
proprietary compression/storage methods which can be a problem
to restore. Others use the now-standard ZIPô
format which can be unpacked by many different programs as well
as by the backup software.
Itís also important to
consider your disaster recovery plans. If you can back up all of
the contents on your computer and need to recover from a
computer disaster such as a hard drive crash, it is nice to do a
complete restore including not only your data files but all of
your program applications and their settings and the Windows
operating system. This kind of backup protection is usually best
done with ďDrive ImageĒ software and does not allow you to
restore individual files or folders. There are some programs
which contain both regular backup and Drive Imaging features but
in general youíll require two different programs. Moreover you
should also consider that you need to update your disk image
from time to time otherwise when you will restore it you will be
back a lot of time with your sistem and all recent files will be
lost. Creating a disk image takes time!
Another useful feature is
called media spanning support. This support allows you to backup
your data onto media that is too small for the backup, such as
CDs, DVDs, or USB Flash drives. By dividing the backup into
small pieces you can split the backup and the software will
prompt for the next CD when the first is full.
Support for Volume Shadow Copy is beneficial also, as it
allows you to backup open files.
Finally, itís a good idea to
test your backup software. First to make sure it actually does
what you want (this is where shareware helps, since you donít
pay for it until you know it works!) and second to be sure that
the restore function will work for you.
Regardless of which program you finally pick, please be sure
to use it Ė the most expensive software is worthless if you
Dr. Hinton is a retired
Network Technician and noted Educator. Trained by Nortel, he
instructed local teachers in the field of Network Management and
also taught Computer Science and Career Preparation at secondary
school. In addition he spent many years as owner of Associated
Computer Technologies, managing and maintaining networks in
business offices and for organizations such as the Down Syndrome
Research Foundation in Burnaby, BC.