Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stop using CDs and DVDs for backup

There are some wonderful reasons not to back up your PC, including:
  • It's too hard
  • I don't know how
  • I don't have a single thing worthy of backing up
  • I'm just lazy
One thing that makes backup easier and faster is the cheap prices and growing sizes of USB Flash Drives. Writing to a CD just doesn't hold enough data. DVDs are better, but still pretty small. Neither of them last very long, which would surprise most people. Even stored in a seemingly safe desk drawer, they start losing data after about 5 years.

My suggestion is to throw away all your CDs and DVDs used for backup and start using the much faster, smaller, more reliable USB drives. As I posted a week ago, I use SlickDeals to find great sales, but you don't even need to do that. At Amazon, without a sale, I found a nice 16GB version for $25. There are tons of choices and a good sale can get you closer to $15. 32GB versions sell for around $60, but the prices just keep on dropping.

Remember, you don't have to back up your whole hard drive. You only need to back up the files in your User Directory (My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, ...). For most people, all this would fit on a single USB drive.

Another consideration is to do what my mom does. She brings a recent backup when she visits in Utah. She leaves that at our house and takes the old flash drive home. By cycling through them, she always has the most recent backup somewhere other than her house. This makes a lot of sense when you consider natural disaster or a house fire.
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