Monthly PC Tips

Check Your Backup

February 2012 – by Per Christensson

Last January, I emphasized the importance of backing up your data. Hopefully, at this point you've had a backup in place for several months. If not, please back up your data now before reading any further. I'm serious.

While several automatic backup programs allow you to "set it and forget it," it's still important to regularly check your backup to make sure your files are getting backed up correctly. After all, a backup is only useful if it reliably backs up your data. Imagine losing important files only to realize they weren't backed up like you thought they were. That would be devastating.

The best way to check if your backup is working correctly is to occasionally restore a few files from your backup location. If you use a backup utility, use the "Restore" option to select a file from your backup and restore it to your primary hard drive. Just make sure not to overwrite any files you have updated since your last backup. Most backup programs allow you to restore files to different folders or with new filenames, which ensures you won't overwrite existing files.

If you use an online backup program, log in to your account and select the "Restore" option. You can then select one or more files you wish to restore to your computer. Some online backup programs allow you to restore files much more easily than others. If you find your online backup solution is difficult to use, it may be time to try a different option. The last thing you want is to have difficulty recovering your files if you lose important data.

While there is no rule of thumb for how often you should check your backup, I would suggest restoring a file or two at least once a month. If you have important personal or work data that you back up regularly, testing your backup once a week may be wise. If you want to be extra safe, you can create multiple backups, such as a local backup and an online backup. This allows you to have a backup of your backup in case one of them fails. Even if you have more than one backup, it is still a good idea to occasionally check them to make sure they are backing up your files correctly.

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