Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Importance of System Backups

This last Friday was one of the most interesting and infuriating days for me at work. When I walked into the office, I noticed my computer was off (which is odd, since I usually leave my computer on in case I need to connect to it remotely). I chalked it up to a power outage, since it wouldn't be the first time we experienced that at this office. I pushed the on button and sat down at my desk, watching it load the hardware. It then went to start up Windows XP, but restarted again.

I went through this process again and again until I finally gave up and realized something about my computer was shot. I tried grabbing another computer tower to put my hard drive into (thinking maybe something got fried on the motherboard of the other computer). Still no luck in another tower. After trying a second computer tower, I knew I was doomed: all my data was gone. But wait, my machine was set up to do a system backup on a weekly basis. All I need to do was check the network drive my backup was stored on and I would be completely fine. Except, my system backup hadn't run since late February. Now, I was really doomed.

Now onto the purpose of this story: Always run a system backup on a schedule, and check the backup regularly.

For those running Windows XP and earlier (yes, there are still people out there running earlier than XP), you go to Start | All Programs | Accessories | Backup. Here you click on the Backup Wizard and select all of your options. For those running Vista and Windows 7, go to Control Panel | Backup and Retore. The great thing about Windows System Backup is it not only creates a backup of your files, but also of your software. So, for instance, if your hard drive goes down (ahem, for your sake, I hope this never happens), you can use the system restore on a new hard drive and it was like your first hard drive never crashed in the first place.

Lastly, you need to make sure to store the backup on an external drive. If you leave the backup on the same drive, then you are not doing yourself any good.

I hope this has helped you in some way. Let me know if you have any questions on how to create your system backup or how to restore it.


  1. So sorry this happened to you! I love that you're passing along the lesson, as well as specific ways to guard against permanent data loss.

    Very helpful!

  2. Dude, I feel your pain. I suppose now you'll double check and make sure your backups are running:)