COLUMN: The importance of backing up your computer files

I know that people can assume that if you own a computer you will know pretty much everything you need to know about how it works, how you can make it work for you, and how to back up your files.

Monday, 7th March 2016, 10:50 am
Updated Monday, 7th March 2016, 10:51 am

But, the truth is that many people are still learning and there is nothing wrong with that. We all have to start somewhere, and with that in mind I thought we should give you a little guide on how to back up your files including a short list of pros and cons associated with each kind of back up technique.

So let’s get started with -

Backing up to CD or DVD

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This used to be the standard for copying music files and videos so that you could play them in your car or DVD player etc., you can also save pictures documents…well pretty much anything to them and put them in a nice case with the contents written on it. 

All you needed to do was insert a blank CD or DVD into the compatible drive on your computer and simply drag the files over, then make sure you didn’t over fill it before waiting up to half an hour (sometimes more) for it to copy. Once this was done you had a shiny disc full of information all backed up and able to transfer to any other computer.


1. CD’s and DVD’s are cheap to buy in bulk.

2. You can play your music in the car or CD player and if you have video files you can watch them on your DVD player.


1. They could be easily damaged, scratched, lost.

2. Sometimes as you were backing up your files a stray program could corrupt them.

3. They take up a lot of space when you start backing up in bulk.

4. Slow and tedious.

5. They had very limited space on each disc.

6. Disks deteriorate over time, lasting in some cases less than 10 years.

External Hard Drives/USB Drives

Basically these are Hard Drives that you can plug into your computer, they work in the same way as the Hard Drive you already have inside your computer but you can take them around with you after you fill them up with your data. External Hard Drives and USB Drives are simple to use, you simply plug them in and drag your files onto them thus backing up your internal Hard Drive in a few swift motions.


1. There are various types with different amounts of space available meaning you can back up as much or as little as you require.

2. They are able to function on any computer you need them to, making them handy to have.

3. In the case of USB Drives, they are small and can fit in your pocket and be attached to a key chain. Also a lot of stereos and TV sets have ports for them meaning you can listen to your music or watch movies from them.


1. Can be damaged, Lost or stolen quite easily.

2. Can pick up viruses the same way as your computer can and become corrupted.

3. The more space you need the more expensive it becomes.


Cloud Backup

Cloud Backup service, this means that there is literally no limit to the amount of files you can back up on it. Cloud based back up services store your data on a secure network which is only accessible by you for when you require it. Backing up with Cloud can be easy, you simply sign up, download the program, designate the folder you want to back up or the whole Hard Drive and let it do the work for you.


1. Unlimited storage is available (some services charge the more you use).

2. No physical media to be lost, damaged or stolen.

3. All your files can be accessed anywhere using your own secure password as long as there is wi-fi.

4. No tedious dragging and dropping.

5. Always there when you need it.

6. Will continue to back up files as you create or download them meaning you never have to worry about them.


1. Can take a while to upload your files initially.

So there you have it, the pros and cons of the various ways of backing up your computer. It is always good to have multiple back-ups, so never rely too heavily on one at a time. Always make sure your files are safe and secure in the best ways you can and always remember that when the worst happens you have always got a backup. - Chips Computers, 13 Heywood Street, Brimington S431DB - 01246 200214