What the Tech: Backing up computers

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(ABC 6 News) – No one expects their computer to crash or be destroyed but it happens. Maybe the water heater breaks and floods your office, perhaps it gets infected with a virus, or even worse. March 31st is World Backup Day to encourage and remind everyone with a PC or Mac computer to back up their hard drives and protect their information and memories.

While computers today can last much longer than they did in the past, hard drives do fail. If you’re ignoring the possibility of losing every digital file, you’re taking a chance.

A wrong click on a website or in an email could install ransomware on your machine. That happens a lot. The hacker takes control of your hard drives, locks it down, and demands you pay them several hundred dollars to get your files back. Over time, older spinning hard drives can just stop working. A tech expert can help. But there’s no guarantee.

So how do you back up a computer hard drive?

The easiest option is to sign up for a cloud backup service like Carbonite. It’ll cost about $60 a year. You won’t have to do anything yourself. Carbonite uploads every file on your computer and continually updates your backup overnight and when you’re working on the computer. If something goes wrong, you can download everything again and get up and running on a new computer.

If you’re the DIY type, you can purchase a portable hard drive and copy your files to it. Windows and Mac have backup programs that’ll do this. On a Windows computer, click settings, update and security, and backups. Choose a hard drive to backup up and which hard drive you want the backup to be stored, then turn on automatic backup. Then make sure all of the files you want to be backed up are included.

If the computer is damaged or corrupted, your files will be safe on the backup hard drive.

The only issue with this solution is, if your computer is infected with a virus or malware, the backup hard drive can get infected too. So if you go the DIY route, back up the computer from time to time and then disconnect the hard drive and store it in a safe place.

If you prefer not to have to remember to do this, an online cloud backup service is probably right for you. But back up. You may be glad you did.