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Computer Data Backups – A Beginners Guide

If you have never done data backups of your computer before, here are a few simple ways to protect your files.

Creating a data backups of your files is not only relatively easy but it is a lot less expensive that losing your files and then trying to recover them.

Few people worry about their hard drives crashing, until they actually crash. Of course then it is just a little bit too late and chances are your files are gone. If you are lucky, a hard drive recovery expert may be able to recover some of your files but it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.

So, here are a few data backup options for you to choose from:


Hard Drive Backups

Your first line of defence against data loss are hard drive data backups. All you need is a separate hard drive.

External USB hard drives come in a few forms depending on your needs; you can get smaller portable ones or larger slightly less portable ones. The main thing is to try to get a hard drive that is at least twice as large as the one in your computer so you have enough space to make a complete backup or keep more than one backup.

Creating a Backup

(Please note that the backup instructions may vary depending on which Windows or Mac version you have)


  1. When you first plug in your hard drive, Windows will ask you if you want to use it to back up your files. If you say “No” or you are not asked, then you can find the backup utility by looking for ‘Backup and Restore’ using your PCs search function.
  2. Once you have opened the utility click the ‘Set up Backup’ button. Choose the external hard drive you plugged in and then click ‘Next’. You can use Windows’ default settings or you can customise the options depending on your needs.
  3. Once you have followed the prompts and selected your options just click ‘Save Settings and Run Backup’. Windows will then backup your hard drive. Do not turn off your computer while it is being backed up.
  4. Depending on the options, you chose Windows will make regular backups for you as long as your hard drive remains plugged in.
  5. If you do not want to use an automated backup utility then you can simply create a Folder on your external drive called ‘Backups’ and then drop any files you want to backup into it. To keep track of these backups it is a good idea to create additional folders by month, or whatever suits y


If you are using a Mac the data backups process is quite similar. If you are not asked if you want to make a backup when you first plugin your hard drive then you can find the option under, ‘System Preferences > Time Machine’. Simply follow the prompts and you will have a backup in no time.


Cloud Based Backups

Google Drive

Google Drive is a great way to backup important data and allows you to create offsite data backups of your files. Drive gives you 15 GB of storage space and all you have to do is sign in to your Google account and you can then access your Drive.

A really nice feature of Drive is the ability to add it to your computer. This creates a folder on your PC that you can simply drag and drop files into in order to add them to drive. When you change something in Drive, your PC folder is synchronised.

Learn more about Google Drive



Dropbox is another cloud based data backups option. Dropbox also gives you some free storage space to begin with, 2 GB to be exact. Like Drive, you can install a Dropbox folder on your computer to use to synchronise your files.

Learn more about Dropbox

Both of these cloud data backup options offer a range of useful features for personal use and small businesses seeking basic backups.


Comprehensive Full System Backups

The previously mentioned data backup options are great to start with but they do have their limitations. For complete backups that include backups of your software and allow you to restore a complete copy of your PCs contents, you need a more comprehensive solution.

For more information about the value and features of Iron Mountain’s customisable data backups solutions please read:

Offsite Data Storage & Hosting

Online Backup & Restore

Alternatively, contact Iron Mountain today and speak to a friendly consultant.


Image Credit: Copyright: cluckva / 123RF Stock Photo


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