What would you feel like if you turned on your PC and saw a blank screen with the line “No Hard Disk Drive Detected”? Or if you started up your Macintosh and got the flashing question mark that meant your computer can’t find the hard drive?
It means your hard drive crashed, and more than likely all your files are gone: your email, photos, documents, music. Next question: do you have a backup? No? Then your digital life is as good as gone.
Hard-drive technology has come a long ways in recent years, but disks will never be foolproof. So, if you value your art work, correspondence, business records, email, and anything else digital, you need a backup of your valuable files on another disk to keep them safe in case of a full hard drive failure, or sometimes even minor problems that can cause valuable files to be corrupted.
Pocket size USB hard drives are a good choice for backups and are reasonably inexpensive; you can get a 250 GB drive for around $100, which will probably be more than enough room to make a complete copy, or “clone” of your hard drive. “Cloning” your entire hard drive to another drive is the best way to backup your files, because you can then do a full restore of everything after you replace a failed internal hard drive. (Check the capacity of your internal hard drive before you buy a backup drive so you’ll have enough room).
If you can burn a CD or DVD on your PC, you can back up just your important file. such as your documents and photo. but be aware that home-burned CDs and DVDs have a working life-span of as little as a few years. And CDs/DVDs don’t have enough capacity to copy your entire hard drive, so USB drives are usually a better choice.
Windows XP Home and Pro have a built-in backup utility or one can be installed from Microsoft, and you can read full instructions on partial backups or “clones” from Microsoft at tinyurl.com/3lvzn.
You can manually backup your files such in My Documents, My Music and My Pictures. If you have saved files in other folders on your hard drive, don’t forget them. Windows Vista also has full disk and scheduled backups available.
For Mac users, your files are in the Users directory at the top level of the hard drive, in the folder with the same name as your login. The Documents, Music and Movie folders are there, while your email is in your Mail folder inside the Library folder.
For whole disk backup, try the free program CarbonCopyCloner (bombich.com ), which will “clone” your hard drive to an external drive. The newest version of OS . 10.5, also called Leopar. features “Time Machine,” which will make a copy of your hard drive and you will be able to go “back in time. a few hours or day. to recover or to revert everything to an earlier version.
It will take some time getting an external hard drive and following instructions on how to do a backup, but don’t wait until your hard drive crashes or you have file problems; if you have a good backup, restore your data and be back in business.