Backup Your Data

CTS reminds you to keep at least one copy of your data in a place other than your computer.

Why should I backup my data, my computer works fine?!

The hard drive of a computer is where your data is stored and is one of the few moving parts in a computer. Like any moving part, it is subject to failure - it can be working fine one day and not operate the next. This is commonly referred to as a "hard drive crash." If this happens, the chances of recovering your information are slim to none!

Another reason is to backup is if you've unintentionally thrown away an important folder containing many files or overwrite a single important file with another. In years gone by when computers were simpler, it was possible to recover a deleted file or folder. Due to the directory structure and the optimization routines written into modern operating systems, this rarely works.

How do I backup my data?

There are several common methods listed below. The one thing all have in common is that you're making a copy of the file as a backup. The idea is to have two copies; not to use the below examples as your sole copy.

Helios: CTS provides 1GB of storage on Helios. When you drag and drop files into Helios you are making a copy of them. If you require more space than the default, please contact the CTS Helpdesk at x2083 or email helpdesk@potsdam.edu so we may increase your allocation.

CD-R/DVD-R: Most modern computers have a CD/DVD Drive in them capable of writing information to CDs or DVDs. Typically, inserting a blank CD-R/DVD-R is all that is needed to make it appear on the desktop. Once there, dragging and dropping files to it will copy them to the disk and ejecting it will record them.

External Hard Drives: You may also purchase an external hard drive that connects to your computer via USB or Firewire (the latter is preferred if available.) This hard drive can be used to store additional information as well as backups of important data. Because of its size and speed, it's a good solution for backing up large amounts of data.

Time Machine: With an external drive (see above) Apple computers can use a built-in feature called Time Machine to do automated, hourly, incremental backups. The system works very well and is highly recommended for all Mac users.

Where to get more information

The Instructional Technology Center (ITC) has some topics on data backup and making CDs/DVDs. E-mail itc@potsdam.edu.