The Norman Transcript

March 29, 2014

World Backup Day: Don’t be an April Fool


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Friends don’t let friends go without a backup.” “Don’t be an April Fool.” These are only two of the slogans adopted by World Backup Day 2014, an effort by Ohio-based 614a Ltd. to encourage people to backup their precious computer files before they are lost. World Backup Day is March 31.

Computer guys like me are often guilty of throwing around computer terms without checking first to see if people understand what they mean. Using terms like “backup,” “files” and “external drive” may be second nature to some folks, but to others, they have never been defined and so, are misunderstood and ignored.

One thing I like about the worldbackupday.com website is that the website owners have actually taken the time to explain things in a way that most anyone can comprehend.

“What is a backup?” the site asks. “A backup is a second copy of all your important files — for example, your family photos, home videos, documents and emails,” the site explains. “Instead of storing it all in one place (like your computer), you keep another copy of everything somewhere safe.”

“But, why should I backup?” I am asked this question all the time. Even though, in the back of their minds they know better, many people have been led to believe that their computer-based devices, including their iPads, laptops and smart phones, are somehow perfect and, therefore, indestructible. They are genuinely shocked and confused when these devices let them down and their irreplaceable family photos accidentally disappear in a puff of digital smoke.

“Losing your files is way more common than you’d think. Ever lost your phone, camera or tablet? That counts. Your stuff could have been saved with a backup. One small accident or failure could destroy all the important stuff you care about,” the website continues. The website speaks the truth here. I am often begged by desperate computer owners to wave my magic computer-guy wand and raise a crashed computer from the dead, recovering precious files that could be lost forever. But, file recovery is not magic. Sometimes it works, and sometimes, if things are too far gone, it doesn’t. Backups are the key to keeping your files, no matter what else happens.

“So, how do I backup?” the website asks. Most people have never been taught or taken the time to learn how to copy their files to a backup device. “Most people backup their files in one of two ways,” the site explains, “to an external drive, or somewhere on the Internet. It’s really easy, and you only need to set it up once!” Easy-to-follow instructions are then provided for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Apple Mac users to backup their files to external hard drives (drives that are not located “internally” inside your computer) and USB flash drives.

Instructions are also provided for backing up your files to an online “cloud” backup service. This is very good advice. The best backup strategies place copies of your important files in three different places. First, your files are on your original device, such as your computer or smartphone. Second, copies are located on a readily-accessible external device like a USB hard drive or flash drive. Third, your files are copied to an online file storage/backup service. Limited numbers of files can be stored on services like OneDrive, Dropbox or Google Drive. My advice for storing large numbers of files online is to use a paid service like Carbonite; at $5 per month for unlimited storage, Carbonite is cheap, safe and effective insurance.

Finally, the World Backup Day website and its founder, Ismail Jadun, asks people to take the World Backup Day pledge: “I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31. I will also tell my friends and family about World Backup Day — friends don’t let friends go without a backup.”

Dave Moore has been performing computer consulting, repairs, security and networking since 1984. He can be reached at 919-9901 or davemoorecomputers.com.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.