Author’s Note: This was originally posted last year, but nothing ever changes:




Did I say backup yet?

Backing up home computers used to be little more than a convenience to keep you from losing some old college papers. These days our entire family histories find life on our unreliable home computers. From digital photos of junior, to financial records in Quicken, to love letters in email, our computers store items in ephemeral 0s and 1s that used to be on paper in a box. Sure, paper isn’t perfect, but I suspect more of us have experienced hard drive crashes than house fires.

Backup is really a pain, so I suggest prioritizing your efforts to focus on the most important stuff and to make it easy and seamless for your non-geek friends and family.

In many cases your best bet is to get an external hard drive and some basic backup software (I use SuperDuper on my Mac, not sure what’s good these days on PCs, so recommendations in the comments appreciated). A bunch of the external drives now include basic software for free, and you can plug in the drive, install the software, and just check up on it every now and then.

For digital photos I’ve started recommending the archive features of Photoshop Elements, Microsoft Digital Image Suite, and the like. The advantage here is they get a photo tool they can use for other purposes, while getting basic photo backup features. I just grabbed Photoshop Elements for my Father-in-Law and a bunch of blank CDs. My plan is, every few months, to burn an archive of his photos on CD and store them over at my place (we live 20 minutes away).

No- backup isn’t fun or sexy, but today it’s very very necessary. I hear all too many stories of people losing valuable family photos due to a basic hard drive crash, virus, or whatever. Imagine losing ALL your baby pics, wedding pics, or Grandpa’s 80th birthday pics where he flashed back and called Grandma by the name of his long-forgotten French mistress from WWII inciting immediate, if lethargic, violence.

Ah, Family. Good times.

You really don’t want to let your family lose their memories, do you?

It’s also a good idea to print really valuable photos. The rumors of paper’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

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By Network Security Blog » Network Security Pod

Cobian is fab for PC backups.  Easy to configure and schedule backups.  Can setup pre- and post-backup activities (e.g. shutdown and restart Outlook).  Usual range of backup types.  FREE!

DVDs and CDs are good for occasional offline backups but are slow.  USB sticks and drives are faster but less resilient.  Use both types to reduce the risk of loss/failure.

Make sure to test-restore your backups to a different disk drive (do NOT overwrite the original in case the backup/restore fails!) and make sure the expected data are all there.  This is especially important when you setup or change configurations.

Store backup media securely, not with the machine being backed up or a fire or theft may destroy both.  Small fire safes designed to protect computer media are probably worth the money, even for the ordinary home PC user with valuable photos, emails and other files.


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By » Blog Archive » Net

I had a hard drive die in my laptop earlier this year and ended up only losing a month or so of photos. But it still killed me. I’‘ve now got SuperDuper set to save me but I need another external drive to backup the backup! I also went through and burned a whole bunch of photos to DVD to put in my longterm archive.

With enough space on a spare drive, Carbon Copy Cloner is a nice fast way to quickly restore an expired hard drive.

By Erik

Mozy is a simple online backup service for Macs and PCs.  (  If you’‘ve got a ton of data the first backup could take a while, but it’s incremental from there and totally automatic.

If you’‘ve got more than one computer, you might give network attached storage (NAS) a hard look.  There’s cheaper options out there from the usual suspects in storage, but hands down the coolest and easiest I’‘ve seen is the NAS box from Drobo (  At $500 it’s certainly not cheap, but it sure makes NAS a no-brainer.  And the ability to pop bigger drives into the chassis as storage prices plummet while the Drobo takes care of everything is pretty sweet.

By Ted J

I am a huge fan of Acronis for PCs. Scheduled backups, the ability to mount the backup as a drive on your PC to grab a previous version of a file. The ability to make SuperDuper-like complete bare-metal restores. It’s a great program.

By rbp

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