What do you mean you haven’t backed up your computer?!

krystennewbyTHIS month Colin Cartmell-Browne looks at options for backing up your important files and precious photographs.

Burning  a CD/DVD

MOST computers have a built in CD/DVD drive, capable of copying files onto a blank CD/DVD. If not, then they are easily obtainable from any computer shop; they just need connecting it to your computer. It is not possible to just copy a file onto a CD/DVD, you will also need a special piece of software which ‘burns’ the files to the disc.

A CD can hold around 700 MB of information while a DVD holds considerably more at 4.7 GB. How many photographs this would be depends on the size of the individual files. You should be able to get a few hundred photos onto a CD and nearer a thousand on a DVD.

CD/DVDs are relatively cheap to buy and, once burned, easily storable off site in a secure location, in case of house fires etc. One downside is that if you have a large number of photos then you are going to need a lot of CD/DVDs as well as good organisational skills to remember which photos you had backed up and which ones you hadn’t.

Using an external hard drive

Versatile Hard Drive with USB cable on white background

AN external hard drive is a device you attach to your computer via USB. There are various options in terms of the amount of data they hold but, realistically, you want one which holds at least 1TB. This will allow you to make several backups of your computer’s hard drive or store thousands of photographs. There are two ways you can use an external hard drive:

Manually copy/save files as you go; which is fine if your main hard drive is full, but not the most effective way to make a back up and is very time consuming.

Use your computer’s backup facility to make an exact duplicate of your hard drive.

This is the most effective way to perform a backup. You can either back up the entire drive including all programmes or just select those files/photographs in a particular location.

The main advantage of an external hard drive is the ability to backup an entire hard drive relatively simply.

Online storage

THE final solution is online storage, for example Google Drive (www.google.co.uk/drive/) or Dropbox (www.dropbox.com/) Most of these are free options although you can pay for extra storage.

For example Google Drive allows you 15GB of free storage, which sounds a lot, but this is the same as only 3 or 4 DVDs. The main advantage is the ability to share files with users not in the same physical location and offsite storage. Disadvantages include needing a decent Internet connection to access your files.

Which storage solution you chose will come down to personal preference. Of the three options here I prefer to use an external hard drive as this is relatively simple to set up and backs everything up in one go. Over the next few months

I will provide detailed tutorials in all three solutions, starting with External Hard Drives next month.