Traditionally, backing up a Windows computer has been a burden that requires periodic attention & effort. Backup applications & even backup media like tape drives fall short of perfection. Avoid common mistakes with the following tips.
- Save your work – If your application does not automatically save your work every few minutes, be sure to click save frequently. Changes to a document cannot be saved if those changes are not written to the hard disk drive.
- Close applications – Prior to running nightly backups that save full or incremental file backup sets, ensure applications are closed to ensure your files are fully accessible. Some backup applications, Rebit SaveMe included, avoid this issue with the Windows system called Volume Shadow Copy Service.
- Configure new file types – Depending in your backup application, you may need to register new file types for newly installed applications that save files with a new file extension to ensure the files are backed up properly.
- Update backup sets – On installation, many backup applications apply a set of default settings to back up select folders and file types. These are called backup sets and may or may not reflect the current arrangement of your data files.
- Rescue disk – Ensure that a rescue disk is made periodically and stored safely to ensure rapid restoration of a computer hard disk drive in the event of failure or virus attack.
- Database exports – Database applications typically keep their data files open from Windows startup to shutdown. If your backup application does not utilize Volume Shadow Copy Service to copy the database files, configure the database application to export the contents of the databases periodically.
- Check backup media – Most backup applications do not manage the space used on backup media, requiring you to periodically delete old information. Recent applications, Rebit SaveMe included, automatically manage the data usage.
- Check log files – Most backup applications try to back up files and quietly fail on some of the files, noting the event in a log file. Checking log files periodically will help ensure important files are not missed.
- Verify recent backup data – Retrieve critical files periodically from the backup to validate the timeliness and quality of the backup.
- Store backup media offsite during absence – To minimize the risk of flood or fire damage to your backup media, separate the backup physically from the computer during trips or extended absences.
- Critical data should be backed up 2 ways – For critical data such as financial records, back up the files 2 different ways. Keep the secondary media physically separate and protected from fire and flood for disaster recovery planning.
- Run Error Check on the C: drive – Hard disk drives are susceptible to flaws exposed over time, and these flaws can disrupt file reads. Run Error Check on the C: drive twice a year to find and repair problems. Open "My Computer" -> right-click the C: drive icon and select "Properties" -> click the "Tools" tab -> click "Check Now" -> click to enable all options -> click "Start" -> click "Yes" -> restart the computer and allow the process to complete.
While most items in the list above depend on the situation, backup application, and method used, the last 4 items of the list are universally applicable.