This is a reminder to all of my friends and family to stop what you are doing and backup your computer NOW! Seriously! Go! NOW!!!!
O.K., I'm done with that soap box.
I have done several full Microsoft Windows PC/Laptop recoveries over the past few weeks. So far I have been able to backup everyone's data, reinstall Windows, Scan and Smash the Viri/Malware and safely restore the data to the repaired system. However, there was one close call that I wasn't sure recovery would be possible because of a failing disk drive. Fortunately it worked out for the data that mattered most... family pictures, iTunes data, and misc docs. In each of these cases, NONE had a current full backup of their data.
Nearly all of these recoveries were necessitated as the result of one wrong click of an infected e-mail, text message, or browser link that unleashed some terrible virus or malware. Normally at this point I would gently bash Microsoft Windows for its ease with which it is infected with all sorts of malware but I will not digress this time. Instead I will return to the topic of this post, ... backups.
If you don't have a current backup of all your important data or don't know how to backup your data, this blog is for you. I am going to share with you a simple 10 step program to backup your data and ensure that it stays backed up.
Step 1. Determine the sum of all data from all computers that need to be backed up. Lets say you have a MacBook Pro with 200GB of data and a Windows Desktop PC with 400GB of data. The total data for these two computers is 600GB. The following steps can help you determine how much storage a given computer is using.
- For a Microsoft Windows computer, right click on the start button, click on Explorer, then left click on each hard drive (C:, E:, ...) and click on properties. This should show the size of the disk drive and how much is use by data.
- For a Mac, click on Finder, then left click (or Ctrl-Click) and select Get Info on each of the disk drives starting with Macintosh HD. Sum the Capacities of all the disk drives to back up.
Step 2. Buy an external hard disk drive or storage array that is large enough to hold two or three times the capacity determined from Step 1 above. There are several 1TB, 2TB, and even 3TB disk drives available for under $200. I usually get the best deals on storage either through NewEgg.com or some really good deal at Fry's. The advantage of NewEgg.com is that they usually offer a really good price plus free shipping and no tax.
Step 3. Attach the storage to a desktop computer that you can leave on all the time for network backups. If you don't have a computer for this purpose, go buy an inexpensive desktop from Dell, Best Buy, Fry's, ... etc. You should be able to find a sufficient desktop system for under $500. The primary purpose of this system is to provide a safe destination for your computer backups.
Step 4. Download and Install the appropriate version of CrashPlan from CrashPlan.com for your desktop computer that has the storage attached to it. CrashPlan is FREE when you are backing up to your own local storage or local computers.
Step 5. Sign up for a CrashPlan account making note of the e-mail address and password used for the CrashPlan account.
Step 6. Select what to backup with the following steps
- Click on "Backup" from the left hand menu
- Click on "Change..." under Files to select what is to be backed up.
- By default, CrashPlan selects the home directory of the user installing CrashPlan. If there are other users on that computer, you will want to check their home directories as well. Be sure to browse around and select all drives that may contain important data. When in doubt, back it all up.
- Click on Save to save your backup selections.
Step 7. Make sure that the attached storage is formatted and rename the drive to "CPBackups".
Step 8. Setup CrashPlan to use the attached storage with the following steps.
- Start the CrashPlan app
- Click on Destinations
- Click on Folders
- Click on "Select..."
- Select the "CPBackups" drive
- Click on "Start Backup"
Step 9. Now its time to install the rest of the computers and configure them to backup their data over the network to the desktop computer with the external storage attached. Do the following steps on each computer.
- Download CrashPlan, install it, and login with your credentials from Step 5.
- Click on Destinations
- Click on Computers
- Select the desktop computer that is running CrashPlan
- Click on "Start Backup"
Step 10. Periodically check the health of your desktop computer to ensure that the external storage has not started giving any errors.
Lastly, consider switching to an Apple computer the next time that you are ready to make a computer purchasing decision. I don't want to belabor this point but about 6 months after you've made the switch you will wonder why you hadn't made the switch much sooner. I'm not saying that Apple's aren't any less susceptible to viri or vulnerabilities. Their track record though has been 10,000 times better than Microsoft Windows. Of all the computers that I have recoverd from malware infection over the past 10 years, NONE of them have been Apple computers.
Blessings to you and yours!