"Backup How-To's": Home Backup: Files and Folders backup

By: Alexander Rassokhin

In the first five of articles of the "Backup How-To's" series we have discussed the main principles of data backup and benefits that backup software brings. Now it's time to look more closely at particular methods of organizing data protection. In this article we will review different aspects of files-based backup in home environment.

Backup at Home

To start with, let's recall what kind of data is considered important by home users and demands backups. The most frequently modified files include e-mail messages, notes and calendars, contacts and Internet Favorites. Less regular but probably more valuable data include digital photo and video archives, music libraries, data of different applications and Windows settings (registry). Then it is the turn for "common" files and folders including the My Documents folder, Desktop, etc.

Tasks and Presets

The practice shows that backup software with task-based architecture provides the most convenient way to back up data. It enables you to create tasks for data restoration in advance and be able to execute them instantly without figuring out how to recover data from the backup. This works especially powerful in business environments where each minute of downtime results in money loss, however home users usually also find it very useful. Many solutions come with explicit presets for faster task creation: e.g. you only need to click "Registry Backup" or "Back up My Documents" to make the program automatically locate the data and add it to the task.

Backing up Program Data

Backing up data of different applications is probably the most highly claimed feature in home backup software. The most popular presets of this kind regard e-mail clients: Outlook backup, Windows Mail backup, and other. Of no less importance is the support for backing up ICQ, Skype and other instant messengers.

Today most backup tools have very similar sets of backup features, and creation of new presets for easier and faster backing up of different data is a very popular direction of their development.

Files and Folders Backup

As regards backing up user-specified files and folders, one of the most useful features in this area is file filtering. Combination of include and exclude filters and file-masks allows creating tasks for whatever type of files: for example, you may select the My Documents folder and set up filters to back up video files only. Some backup programs have special presets like "Photo Backup" or "Music Backup" which are used to filter out only files of desired extension. This is very popular among home users, because their primary backup plans involve backing up personal and memorable data like these.

How Often to Back Up

The last thing left to discuss is how often backups should be made. In this regard it is very important to note that one of the most frequent causes of data loss at home is user mistake. Accidental deletion of important files is as frequent as intentional deletion when you are sure that you have backups, but in fact you don't. At thus, it is recommended to back up your work folders at least daily and your media archives weekly. Don't worry it doesn't take much time, as most programs have an option to back up only new and changed files.

In the next article: Home Backup: Hard Disk Imaging and Cloning

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"Backup How-To's" is a series of articles by Alexander Rassokhin discussing methods and strategies of organizing computer data protection. These articles will be of great interest and use for PC users of all levels, from those who use computers at home to system administrators in large commercial enterprises. Alexander Rassokhin is an IT-expert and technical writer of Novosoft which is a developer of its own PC backup software.
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