Backing up a hard drive

We don’t need to tell you how important the data on your computer is. While most of your online movements these days can be traced back to the cloud – what about the offline documents and files you’ve accumulated and created over the years – the ones stored on your local disk. Backing up your hard drive (HD) is an important step for all computer users of the 21st century. It doesn’t take much effort and could save you a lot of hassle down the line. 

The first step to backing up your hard drive is creating a backup profile on your computer. This is made simple with easy to use programs and wizards that will walk you through the process step-by-step. Let’s take a look at those now. 

Creating a Mac Hard Drive Back Up Profile  

Creating a back up profile on a Macintosh is really easy if you have a recent machine. The Mac OS from 10.5 onwards comes with a native application called Time Machine. Like most Mac products, the UI is user friendly and will walk you through the process of creating a back up profile and either saving to your machine or exporting to your external hard drive or the cloud. The application lets you set up recurringback-ups and will remind you when it’s almost time to back up again. You choose the intervals – back up monthly, weekly or daily depending on your needs. 

If you’re running an older version of Mac OS, there is software you can buy to create a Mac HD profile. Prices vary from around ten to seventy dollars and beyond. It’s worthwhile doing some research on software so you don’t fork out for unnecessary functions. 

Creating a PC Hard Drive Back Up Profile 

There are different native back up solutions for the various PC operating systems. We’ll take a look at the two popular ones – Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows 8 and onwards. Earlier versions of Microsoft Windows may use different native applications or require purchasing back up software. 

The native back up application for PCs running Microsoft Windows XP is called Windows XP Back Up. For Microsoft Windows 8 and onwards, head to your control panel, click system and maintenance and then Backup and Restore. Like Time Machine, both of these options utilize a wizard that will walk you through the process of creating a back up profile for your computer. You’ll be able to schedule regularback-ups according to your needs and export your profile too. 

Backing Up to an External Hard Drive 

Now that you have all of the data you want backed up neatly placed into a back up profile – it’s time to export it to somewhere safer. That’s where an external HD comes in handy.  

Be discerning when purchasing an external HD as they can cost a pretty penny. Remember, if you drop the HD or it smacks against something – all your data may be lost. They are more sensitive than they look. Upright HDs can be extra sensitive – so if you’ll be moving the HD around a lot it’s worth investing in a good quality external HD that can take a beating, like a LaCie rugged HD.

To export your data to the external HD, simply plug the device in using a USB or FireWire cable and wait for the machine to pick it up. Usually a dialogue box should appear asking what you wish to do next – if not, you might have to search for devices. Once the device has been installed on the computer you will be able to see it registered much like when you insert a CD or DVD. From here it’s easy – drag and drop the required data or back up profile into the device.