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How often should I run a backup of my computer files?

Answered December 29, 2011

How often should I backup my files? (mp3)

How often should I backup my computer?

This is one of those questions that's deceptively simple, but it's without a single, straight answer.

In an ideal world, everyone would backup everything that's important to them every single day -- particularly at work. You probably don't save a whole lot of really valuable things on your home computer -- but you'd be surprised how quickly things like photos and song downloads add up.

So, from a practical standpoint, you really should aim to backup your data at least once a week. Risks to your computer are present year-round. Whether it's wintertime static electricity or summertime thunderstorms, there are all kinds of electrical risks that can fry your hard drive. Plus, kids, pets, and even absent-minded adults can drop, spill, crack, and slam things in all kinds of ways that can make your computer go afoul.

There are plenty of options for running backups -- whether you use an online service that runs automatically, or burn your files to DVDs, or put the essential files on a flash drive or memory stick, or save things to a portable hard drive. Any of these options -- any! -- is better than nothing at all.

Now, if you're not sufficiently dedicated to the cause of backing up your computer and a weekly effort sounds like just too much work, don't *ever* let more than a month go by without a backup. Seriously. If you can pay your bills once a month, you can surely set aside five minutes to run a backup. Consider it the same as paying for an insurance policy on the valuable files we all store without a second thought.

If you don't believe in the value of a good backup policy, just go to your favorite search engine and type in "Lost all my files". Google shows more than 2 million results. That should give you 2 million good reasons to invest just a tiny amount of time in making sure you always have a reliable backup to save the day.