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why do you need to backupHow else can I say this? Actually, there is no other way more straightforward than this: you need to backup now. The risks involved with not doing so are simply not worth it. There’s no really no reason to not be backing up your computer. That said, you likely feel you do have a legitimate reason. And in some cases you might, but there is always a way.

Here are six reasons why you might be putting off creating a backup of your computer:

  1. No money for an external hard drive, online service or software
  2. You don’t know where to get an external hard drive or what kind to get
  3. You don’t know what software or online services you should use
  4. It takes too much time to set up, let alone, to backup your computer all the time
  5. You don’t have anything that matters if it’s lost
  6. You simply don’t have the know-how

why do you need to backup

Do any of those excuses sound familiar? Are there several that you are saying to yourself? Perhaps justifying them in your mind even as you read through the list? Let’s stop for a second. Notice I said reasons above the list, but excuses below the list. That’s because they are.

Excuse One: No money for an external hard drive, online service or software

Now there is definitely some legitimacy to some of them, such as being tight on money (and I certainly support prioritizing your expenses). That said, even when my backup hard drive went out, I found a way to make money to pay for it to counter the cost. And let’s get serious here, a great hard drive ranges from $60 to $80 (US Dollars). If you spent, three, four, five hundred or more dollars on your computer, you can’t tell me eighty dollars is too much to “insure” it.

This same thought goes for paying for online backup services and software. However, there are many free options which we have covered at MakeUseOf Top 10 Backup Software Apps For Your PC Top 10 Backup Software Apps For Your PC Read More .

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Excuse Two: You don’t know where to get an external hard drive or what kind to get

why do you need to backup your files

Use Google. Or if you’re “anti-Google,” use your preferred search engine. My point is, you have a plethora of information available to you via the Internet. Take advantage of it.

Excuse Three: You don’t know what software or online services you should use

See comment above on Excuse Two.

Excuse Four: It takes too much time to set up, let alone, to backup your computer all the time

why do you need to backup your files

No it doesn’t. It takes urgency to just do it. Sure it takes some time and if you have something pressing to do right now, perhaps it’s not the best thing to do with your time. I leave that up to your discretion. The initial set up only takes a couple minutes and for regular backups there’s scheduling How To Automate & Schedule Regular Windows 7 Backups How To Automate & Schedule Regular Windows 7 Backups Far too many PC users fail to properly back up their systems and their data. Because of that, I've often found myself in the position of having to tell family and friends that all of... Read More , or if you backup to the cloud Read This Before Choosing An Online Backup Provider Read This Before Choosing An Online Backup Provider Backing up your files is a no-brainer - at least it should be. Hardware failure, security breaches, natural disasters, thieving scumbags and clumsiness can all lead to heart-in-mouth moments when you realise that your precious... Read More they sync by themselves. There’s no need to manually run every backup.

Excuse Five: You don’t have anything important, so it doesn’t matter if it’s lost

If you think this, I honestly can’t argue this one with you. My guess is you likely do, you just aren’t thinking of those photos or important documents, like your resume Your All-In-One Guide To Building The Perfect Resume Your All-In-One Guide To Building The Perfect Resume Whether you just graduated, are returning to school or are looking for a new job, within or outside your career, you need a resume. But not just a resume. You need a great resume. One... Read More , because you don’t always use them. But when the time comes to accessing them, you’ll probably wish you had them.

Excuse Six: You simply don’t have the know-how

That’s okay! A lot of people don’t. In fact, that’s part of what makes writing on MakeUseOf so enjoyable – I have the privilege of helping people who want to learn be more productive and efficient with technology.

That said, remember my reply to excuses two and three? Yeah… use Google. The Internet is your best friend in discovering how-tos. Also, check out so many of the other articles on MakeUseOf (some linked to at the end of this article) and save them in a service like Evernote (which we’ve covered on MakeUseOf) or bookmark them to refer back to it later.

Conclusion: Just Do It

why do you need to backup

The first part to any intention, backing up your computer in this case, is to realize the obstacles and objections (i.e. excuses) you will face. The second part is to create a plan and act. Without action, there won’t be any results… or in this case, files, if your computer fails.

Here are some helpful articles published on MakeUseOf concerning backing up. Some of these I have linked to throughout this article.

Do you have a backup already? If so, how is yours set up? If not, why not and how do you plan to put one into affect?

  1. Marc Godhusen
    April 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Just reading it now and I all I have to comment is when you say "Use Google", this is just an excuse, too. Everybody searches on Google first and come here for the answers!

    • Aaron Couch
      April 26, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      Marc,

      I'm not sure I understand your point -- MakeUseOf has tons of articles about backing up, many of which I've linked to in this article.

  2. Sashritha Peiris
    January 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    This is so true. I backed up my computer TWO WEEKS before I accidentally corrupted some startup files so I could not start my computer up. Thankfs to TimeMachine backups I was able to get my computer working like normal in minutes. See how lucky I am.

  3. Aaron Couch
    December 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Haha don't you love they you are no longer "blind"? Kind of a double-edged sword, I suppose.

  4. Giggity Goebbels
    December 8, 2012 at 1:01 am

    I got an excuse too:my home server always Freezes and need a reset when i ever try to backup my laptop.it is running windows home server 2011(spme oem system builder thing).
    I repurposed my gateway sx2850 as the home server(i took out the dvd drive and balanced another hard drive in the middle of it with 2 screws),and i dunno what hell is wrong with it.
    Specs:8gb ddr3 1333mhz rcmemory ram
    500gb hdd(originally in computer)
    3tb hdd(toshiba)
    The motherboard that has only 2 sata ports(i hate this fact)
    I3 540(might plan to upgrade to i5 750,pls advice,if this is compatible with mobo)
    Nvidia geforce 315
    Wifi card some unknown brand sort of thing
    If anyone can help,my excuse is invalid and i will start backing up.

    • Aaron Couch
      December 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      I'm not real familiar with Windows Home Server. So I ask this, why can't you use a third-party cloud backup like SugarSync or Crash Plan or just copy and paste your files from your computer to your external hard drive?

      • Giggity Goebbels
        December 15, 2012 at 12:56 am

        Copy and paste?no need.no important files in the clients,only in server.so all i need to do is to refresh or reset it(windows 8 pro).
        Well i fixed it too,by replacing it with a cheap a55 biostar h61mgv and an i3 2120(this is temporary solution,as it is overheating after 3 days,so i am going to change the mobo to asrock h77m(non itx),and processor as Xeon E3-1220L V2.though only 2 core and 3mb cache,but it only takes 17W,and can save me money to upgrade my psu and add a hard drive.also i can upgrade the ram also instead of only 2 sticks.

  5. Easton Wiki
    November 20, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Just a little tip for anyone. Crashplan has a "deal" to get 1 year free unlimited backup plan with them for 1 computer. It works great and can't beat free

    http://www.crashplan.com/carboniteswitcher

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:53 am

      Except, they state you have to be a Carbonite user (or a previous one). Are they just stating this or is there something that you have to prove that you really are/were one?

      Have you tried this yourself?

      • Christopher Miliotti
        November 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

        I have been using it for the past few months perfectly fine. It works great! It is meant for people switching from Carbonite however they do not do anything to verify that you are a user. (and honestly i have no idea how they could verify it without carbonite allowing them to; which would make no sense lol)

  6. Alex Perkins
    November 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Backup via FTP to a small barebones PC with plenty of HDD space, say 12TB in RAID 10. Have this setup at a friend's or family's house that is far enough away from you but close enough so if you need to replace a failed drive it's not a huge drive.

  7. Adrian
    November 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Lost everything a few years ago when a power surge fried my main and backup hard drives...both of which were in my computer. Now I've got everything backed up on at least two forms of media, all of which are disconnected and stored safely away once a backup cycle is completed.

    • Gerhard Tinned
      November 20, 2012 at 9:12 am

      There are backup strategies companies and organisation talk about all the time. They split the solutions up into kind of levels. It is then a question of how secure it should be. Something like that.

      1) Have the backup on an extra media so when the HDD is dying the other one media holds the backup.
      2) Have the backup media not located at the same room as the original because if the PC is getting buring or any elektrical damage it can cause the backup media to be dead as well.
      3) Have the backup media not in the same building (because of fire)
      4) Have the backup media not in the same City (because of a catastroph in the city)
      5) Have the backup media not in the same continental sheet (because of earth quake)

      You can go on with that if you like. But point is, the backup and its location has an impact to how secure it is. I for example unplug my backup disc completely when the backup is done. Way? Let me answer this with another question. What reason do you have to have the backup disc running when there is no backup job running?

  8. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 18, 2012 at 3:52 am

    I-I'm guilty. The only data safe in my computer are the one in DropBox (I only have 2gb free plan). Some of the rest are backed in CD/DVD not regularly. I've tried online solutions but gave up after I realize how slow my upload speed is. My data (that's precious enough to be backed up) is about 150GB. My upload speed is about 10-30kb/sec.

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:51 am

      Lisa,

      Get a 1TB drive for $80. It'll be the best investment you made. And it will save you lots of tears if something ever happens to those dear family photos and/or videos.

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        November 30, 2012 at 9:08 am

        I keep delaying from buying one since the Thailand flood. It might cost you 80$ there, but the price is inflated here in my country especially for good brands. Thank you though. You're right. Forking some cash is much easier than dealing with loss.

        • Aaron Couch
          December 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm

          Lisa,

          Of course. How could I have been so ignorant to think that there are other areas which are limited more than the US in terms of access and price.

          Sorry about that. You certainly have a valid point. But if you do have access to an external hard drive and you can afford it, I'd recommend getting one.

  9. Sandeep
    November 18, 2012 at 3:33 am

    I use skydrive for personal photo backup .. Lucky to have two 25GB account for free.
    And now I have replicated it on multiple Google drive, because I don't trust microsoft they have closed services with one months notice.
    But still I have got 150GB worth data ready to compromise in case of hard disk failure.

  10. Mac Witty
    November 17, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Back up with clone on a firewire harddrive. Have 2 clones on it (separate partitions) and use them every second time - just in case. Try to update every week. Then sync all of my own files with Sugarsync.

    Had a harddrive crasch in the spring and was up running in less than 30 minutes. Started on the clone and synced the files with sugarsync to get the latest version. Good thing with Sugarsync is that you can decide the order it download files. I could update the latest work files and email first and sync the rest when working.

    I do trust the cloud but it takes a long time to download all files and I want something where I be up at once.

  11. Manu
    November 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I've been postponing the backup... for one very important reason you have not listed: procrastination ;-)
    But your post has made the key-turn. Thank you very much.

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:49 am

      Good! Glad to hear that. Good luck!

  12. Mark Alsisto
    November 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    not yet back up. :)

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      Try Dropbox at least. You'll not regret it. 2.25Gb might seem small, but it's enough for some important documents.http://db.tt/EYD2YRtv

      • Mark Alsisto
        December 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

        i am using dropbox for SUPER important doc, and that's not even 100MB. i'm not sure whether you call that a back up.

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          December 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm

          I understand what you mean. Still, since it's very important files and will likely to save you in a pinch, I still call it a backup.

  13. Arron Walker
    November 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I only have a few things worth backing up, which Dropbox covers splendidly.

  14. Eva
    November 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Another good one is thinking that nothing is going to happen to one's data, as nothing has happened before. Of course, when it happens the first time, that's the worst case scenario right then.

    When I see the occasional "To whoever stole my laptop: Keep it, just please, please return the data for my final thesis, it's the only copy I had!" posters around libraries in my university, I'm torn between pity and exasperation. I'm of course sorry for someone who lost the result of potentially years of work and studying, but why on earth didn't a person with the intelligence and education to pursue a university degree also have the imagination to anticipate scenarios in which their information might be lost, and come up with measures to prevent that? I really cannot fathom that. (says the person who has a general online backup, plus another online backup and a physical backup of just her thesis data)

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:47 am

      Great points Eva! Completely agree and I too have seen things like that. Kudos to you for including that one (I should certainly have in this article), so thanks!

  15. Katharine Wood
    November 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    My problem is definitely money. I've looked into online backup services. Most of them don't even offer plans large enough to back up everything I'd want to back up (I have about 3TB and growing everyday of various music, video files, documents, etc. that I'd want to back up) and the ones that do charge such an exorbitant price that I'd literally not be able to feed myself if I paid for that. I have a very small income.

    I'd need like a 4TB external harddrive at least for backup purposes but they don't even sell one yet. I've seen 3TB drives, but they are still too expensive for me to afford.

    I already have all my files distributed across both my computer and 2 external drives, so at least it's unlikely that all 3 will fail at the same time and I'd lose everything (barring a house fire or natural disaster). But currently that really is the best I can do. I mean I'm using a computer that's almost 7 years old because I can't afford a new one (although I'm saving up; hope to be able to buy one this year). Some people really really can't afford to back up, it's not just a case of them being miserly.

    • Douglas Mutay
      November 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      Agree with you.

    • Gerhard Tinned
      November 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

      What i do is store things that are never changing again on relativly cheap DVD's. Like holiday Photos and MP3 collections. I mean do you edit you photos and mp3's on a daily base? If you in that way split your huge amount of data into NON-CHANGING data and CHANGING data you can easyly have one copy of all the NON-Changing data on cheap DVD's and the rest of the changing data can be synced sheduled to a way smaller (and therefore cheaper) HDD.

      Most of the time there is no "ONE AND ONLY SOLUTION". Sometimes a compination of methods is a good choice as well.

    • Mohammed Irfan
      November 22, 2012 at 9:54 am

      Well.. around 500 TB of online space on bitcasa.. and its dead cheap.. just 10$ a month! :)

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:45 am

      I understand how money can be tight. I hardly have any money... really. And not because I spend it all -- because I'm paying off debts and saving every penny I can. So I can relate.

      However, you can't afford NOT to backup. There are some very affordable HDDs available, you just have to look. Perhaps you took advantage of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals? Those were two great opportunities to find excellent HDDs for great prices online.

      As far as cloud backup, yeah they can be pretty pricey. I use them for saving my documents and photos (although if you're a photographer, that might not be a very affordable option).

      My advice, get 2-3 2TB HDDs. A 3TB, like you said, is not affordable, but I've seen a significant price difference between them and the 2TB drive. Then once you have all your files, including your video files, music, etc. Use cloud storage as a supplemental backup for what you can fit on there. I've got quite a bit of space on SugarSync from referrals and if you jumped on Microsoft's deal for the 25GB for free on SkyDrive a while back, that would be another good option.

      Just my thoughts. Hope these helped.

  16. Anonymous
    November 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

    External HDD is the best.

    • Gerhard Tinned
      November 20, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Not stable if wrong stored. HDD's are sensible to magnetic fields. moving parts in the HDD can cause problems as well. On the other hand as mentioned in other comments, DVD's dont have a looong live. I am using a mix for my data that is very important for me.

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:38 am

      True, a HDD is good. But not best. MULTIPLE backup locations is best.

      • Shahbaz Amin
        December 6, 2012 at 6:20 am

        I wasn't aware of limitation of storing my backups, which I do regularly, on an external HDD.
        But is it possible or practical to upload a 15GB+ system backup (not files) onto a backup server? What do you guys suggest?

        • Aaron Couch
          December 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm

          Would this be your own backup server or through a service like CrashPlan, Carbonite, SugarSync, etc?

          Currently CrashPlan is offering one free year and that is with unlimited storage. So yes, uploading 15GB+ would be practical with that.

          https://www.crashplan.com/carboniteswitcher/

          Of course, it also depends on your Internet connection.

  17. Efi Dreyshner
    November 17, 2012 at 8:53 am

    My excuse : Excuse Five: You don’t have anything important, so it doesn’t matter if it’s lost

    :P
    But if I will lose it, I will freak out XD
    Thanks, great article :)

    • Gerhard Tinned
      November 20, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Holiday photos maybe?

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:38 am

      You don't have ANYTHING important? You mean to tell me you have no music, photos, videos, documents of any kind... nothing?

      You should go through your computer and make a list. You might be hard pressed to find something at first, but you'll be amazed at how much you have that you really don't want to lose.

  18. Michael Jan Moratalla
    November 17, 2012 at 4:57 am

    actually I have 2 problem 1. don't have money and 2. really don't know how

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:59 am

      Well... You're here on MakeUseOf, which has tons of articles about HOW to backup.

      Here are a couple to get you started:
      http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/disaster-recovery-tips/
      http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/guys-files-happened/

      And then there's the rest of the Internet, so that's not a valid reason. Just look.

      As far as money goes. Yeah, it's tough, but you can do it. Here's what my response was to another reader with the same concern:

      I understand how money can be tight. I hardly have any money... really. And not because I spend it all -- because I'm paying off debts and saving every penny I can. So I can relate. However, you can't afford NOT to backup. There are some very affordable HDDs available, you just have to look. Perhaps you took advantage of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals? Those were two great opportunities to find excellent HDDs for great prices online. As far as cloud backup, yeah they can be pretty pricey. I use them for saving my documents and photos (although if you're a photographer, that might not be a very affordable option). My advice, get 2-3 2TB HDDs. A 3TB, like you said, is not affordable, but I've seen a significant price difference between them and the 2TB drive. Then once you have all your files, including your video files, music, etc. Use cloud storage as a supplemental backup for what you can fit on there. I've got quite a bit of space on SugarSync from referrals and if you jumped on Microsoft's deal for the 25GB for free on SkyDrive a while back, that would be another good option. Just my thoughts. Hope these helped.

  19. Terafall
    November 17, 2012 at 4:55 am

    I use Dropbox and Skydrive(still considering Google Drive) to sync my music,wallpaper,installer,portable apps and other things that are not private.My external hard disk was used to backup big files,movies and private items

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:56 am

      Not a bad setup! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Chris
    November 17, 2012 at 4:41 am

    I have no good excuse other then being lazy. It is the easiest thing every for me to back up my desktop or laptop, but for some reason I always find myself too lazy to do it.

    • Aaron Couch
      November 30, 2012 at 3:36 am

      I'm too lazy to NOT do it. Think about all the extra work you'll have to do if something happens? Yikes...

  21. Alan Wade
    November 17, 2012 at 4:19 am

    After repeated fresh installs due to me getting customisations wrong or just downloading the wrong thing and messing up my system I decided it was time to have a scheduled backup system in place.
    I image my SSD (C drive) every two days through a schedule with Macrium Reflect and backup my documents, email profiles and Firefox profiles including bookmarks every two days using Backup8.

  22. RaMaN
    November 17, 2012 at 3:50 am

    The best thing > Use a DVD. That's cheapest, have a big storage and will remain with you.

    • ThatGuy
      November 17, 2012 at 4:34 am

      Sorry to disagree, but do not use a DVD. As anyone who's backed up onto DVD or CD for the last 15 years will tell you: optical disc media like this ages *really* badly, flakes and falls apart. An absolute no-no.

      Use a hard-drive, they're dirt cheap. Or something like Carbonite online.
      And keep them apart - no use having your backup beside your PC if your house burns down.

      You might want to try something free like http://download.cnet.com/SyncBack-Freeware/3000-2242_4-10413802.html to help you back up easily.

      • Gerhard Tinned
        November 20, 2012 at 8:52 am

        As an additional copy of your backup i would say a DVD is a good thing.

        But as the only backup it is a little expensive over time and way to slow and for a lot of people even to small. And you don't want run to the PC 5 times to change the DVD during one backup run, right?

    • Koshy Gorge
      November 17, 2012 at 5:48 am

      DVD's don't have a long life time.

      • RaMaN
        November 17, 2012 at 7:06 am

        I've some dvds from last 2 or 3 years. Isn't that enough? Data always changes. You're also right. Syncing is the best way.

        • Gerhard Tinned
          November 20, 2012 at 8:55 am

          Well you are right most of the data changes over time. But what about your Holiday photos? Your celebration photos? They dont change. As you sad data changes. But to be more specific i would say only about half of the data you have and collect change. The other half of it is not changing anymore as soon as you finished working on it.

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