You know that it's happened to you at some point in time. One of the hard drives in your computer fails and you're left with a completely fried hard drive, with no possible way of retrieving the data that was stored on it. We've all been there. So what can you do to avoid this situation? Read on to find out more.
We've mentioned before that you should create a backup every few months. For Mac users, purchasing a Time Machine enabled hard drive makes a lot of sense as well. With ever expanding storage capacities, burning DVDs is a losing battle since you end up burning hundreds in order to fully backup a 500 GB hard drive (the actual number is 107, since each DVD holds 4.7 GB of data).
It's best to use a variety of different approaches to make the whole process of creating backups pretty straightforward and basically a non-issue if anything goes wrong. To start off with, most people have a laptop and a desktop. If you've got more than one computer in your home, make sure that your most important files are duplicated across all of your computers every month or so. This includes mostly .doc files, spreadsheets, and other text-based files. These can be hard to recreate if they are lost. We also suggest uploading these onto Google Docs, which is perfect to store these, or simply email them to yourself as attachments to a Gmail account. Your Gmail account can store up to 7GB of files this way.
Next, we move onto images. Depending on how many photos you have taken, it could take quite a while to back these up. The first step is to upload these to a photo sharing site like Flickr or Zooomr, to ensure that at least something is saved if your hard drive fails. If you've got hundreds or thousands of photos to upload, it can take quite a while. I have a Pro account from Zooomr and have uploaded about 12,000 images to it in .jpg files directly off my Nikon DSLR. I upload photos as soon as they are saved on my computer.
How can you securely back up images? Most people don't take hundreds of GBs worth of photos every month, so it's easy to buy an external hard drive, of 2TB, and simply use this to back up your images. Once they are copied onto this dedicated HD, you can disconnect it and store it in a safe place. Some people go as far as to storing this off-site, away from home, like at the office.
You could purchase a RAID controller card for your computer and set it up so that it runs multiple hard drives in a RAID array. One of the settings in RAID, RAID 1, allows for all of your data to be safeguarded, even if one of the hard drives fails. This means that you could set up two to four hard drives this way, ensuring that no matter what happens, your data would always be safe.
Lastly, you could purchase a dedicated RAID enclosure, like a Drobo, which are compatible with NAS devices. Drobos can come with an add-on which allow all of the computers in your home network to wirelessly connect to it.
[header image via Tech On, other image via Drobo]