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Backup Choices for a Windows PC

August 15, 2007


No one would doubt the importance of backing up your data in your PC. However, not every PC user does routine backup. Somehow people think backup is a daunting task — too many choices (softwares & hardwares) and too many methods (drive image, incremental backup, synchronization, remote backup etc). Yes, there are many ways to back up your PC. You just need to think a little bit about what you need, pick up one method to stick with it and start to back up.


Consider the purpose of your backup:

  • System Recovery: you need to get an image of your drive or partition so that you can get back to your system at one restoration
  • Backup Data: two choices, one using the software specific format and the other using common compression format, e.g. zip
  • Synchronization

Many softwares can achieve more than one backup purpose.

Consider where to store the backup files:

  • Hard drive: either an internal 2nd hard drive or an external one.
  • Remote server: store your backups in another places, e.g. your FTP server or online backup service.
  • Media: choices including, tape, DVD or USB thumb drive, depending on the size of backup files and the purpose.

Backup Guides

Two simple guides can help you start to back up immediately. Lifehacker’s “Automatically back up your hard drive” (01/11/2006) uses SyncBack free version as an example to show you how to set up scheduled backup. Wired’s “Back up your data on a Windows PC” gives several choices on the backup softwares, including the built-in Windows backup programs to do the job and online services.


Mentioned in the articles:

  • SyncBack (Free or SE)
  • Acronis True Image
  • NovaBACKUP

Suggested in Lifehacker users

Personally, I use Acronis True Image to back up a drive or a partition (very fast) into another internal drive and Second Copy for scheduled backup and synchronization in zip format (only for the files I’m working on). Occasionally, I use Nero BackItUp for backing up my important data folders into DVD disc and for transferring files to my laptop as well. The latter method don’t back up the music files I ripped from CDs, picture and softwares etc. I’m thinking to buy an external drive for system backup and my music collection.

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