BACK UP TO HARD DRIVE
Creating a backup of your data on a separate partition of your computer’s hard drive, or on a hard drive external to your computer is a good way to ensure that your data will be safe if the unthinkable happens and you suffer some form of hard drive failure.
What equipment is needed?
If the hard drive of your computer is partitioned into several sections, such as a C and D drive, then you can back up your C drive data onto your D drive, and vice versa. It should go without saying that, although it is possible to create a backup of your hard drive and save it onto the same drive, it's a bad idea, because if you single hard drive fails, your original and back ups will all be lost.
An external hard drive is a better option for data backup and recovery. There are many types of external hard drives, manufactured by various companies, with varying degrees of reliability and storage capacity.
What software is needed?
Software, such as TrueImage, Norton Ghost or System Restore, can be used to completely mirror your hard drive onto an external source. This means that you have copies of all your computer data, operating system and programs. After a system crash, you can restore the whole system, or can simply replace lost or corrupted files and folders.
Is it difficult or easy?
If you are manually doing a hard drive backup, or if you are backing up a large amount of data that is stored in a number of file locations, then this can be a little tricky. If you are only backing up a partition of your hard drive, you need to remember to back up the Partition Table as well. If you are backing up your entire drive, the Partition Table will be automatically updated. You also need to remember to shut down all applications and programs before beginning your backup, especially those that may modify files on the backed up partition. For many users who are not computer-savvy, using a software program to automate the file backup process is a good option. These programs can not only make it easier to restore your data in the instance that your system fails, but can take the complexity out of copying files to a hard disk.
How reliable are the backups?
Backups to hard drive are fairly reliable, especially if you have used a software program to create the mirrored data. This is particularly useful when you are trying to restore files or folders after a system crash. Overall, the advantage of backing up to an external drive compared to a partition of your computer’s hard drive is that your data is stored in two physically separate locations. In the event that your computer is destroyed or stolen, you will have another copy of your data.
The reliability of your backed up data is also dependent on the properties of the hard drive on which it is backed up. Whilst all hard drives must meet international standards before they are allowed to be marketed, some brands of hard disk are considered more reliable than others. Again, checking out reviews of products can help you make your decision about which hard drive is the best option for your backup plan.