Computers crash. If you're computer hasn't crashed yet, it will. And when it does, it will hurt. A lot. Trust us. There's nothing worse than losing data that has taken you months upon months, or even years to accumulate. Of course, you can save yourself all that pain and sorrow if you just took some preemptive actions (no Dubya) and backed up your computer. You'd be surprised how many people don't. Sure, some people throw their music collection on an external hard drive every couple months, but what about everything else? And what happens if the crash happens in between those updates? You're screwed.
We suggest you back up your computer regularly. No matter what you're running, Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows, it's stupid simple to fully back up your computer. See our step-by-step guide below...
MAC OS X 10. 5 and Later
If you're running the latest iterations of Apples Mac OS X, consider yourself lucky. Built into Leopard is one of the most useful and ass-saving pieces of software to ever come out (or be purchased by the good folks in Cupertino): Time Machine. Like the name implies, if your computer crashes, you're able to revert it back to a time when everything ran like clockwork. And in true Apple fashion, it's simple.
1. Plug the hard drive you would like your info backed up into your computer.
2. A pop up window will appear asking you if you want to use that drive for back ups, click "Use a Back Up Disk".
3. Go grab a beer or, better yet, call Trifey over as an image of your entire drive is copied on your external hard drive. The initial copy is going to take a minute, so tell her to bring some jammies.
MAC OS X 10.4 and Earlier
Those of you still rocking with the older iterations of Mac OS X, you can still easily back up your hard drive, but there are more than three steps. For this you will need an external hard drive with Firewire.
1. Plug in your external hard drive.
2. Go into your Applications folder and click on Utilities.
3. Look in the left handed column and click on your main hard drive. This is the one Mac OS X should be installed on. It's more than likely your main drive—the one that's on your desktop.
4. Click the "Restore" tab.
5. You should see a field labeled "Source". Drag your main hard drive, the one you want to copy, over to it.
6. Drag your external Firewire drive into the field labeled "Destination."
7. Click the button labeled "Restore". The date on your drive will begin to copy onto your Firewire drive. This will take a while as well, so, you know, feel free to call you know who over.
8. After it's finished, you need to make sure that it fully copied your hard drive. To do this, with your Firewire drive still plugged in, go to "System Preferences", click on "Startup Disk" which should be in the "System" row, choose the Firewire drive the image was copied onto and then click "Restart". If it was done properly, your computer should boot up perfectly from the drive.
9. We recommend doing this at least once a month
WINDOWS 7 & VISTA
So you're running Microsoft's highly touted new offering, Windows 7—either by way of you purchasing it or you copping a machine that had it pre-installed. Congrats. Backing up your system is pretty damn simple thanks to the built in Back Up and Restore Center. WIth a few simple clicks, you should be able to back up your system. Windows Vista had the same feature, yeah, but unless you had the Business editions, it was pretty crippled.
1. Go to the "Control Panel" and click on the "Backup and Restore" button.
2. Plug in the external hard drive you would like to back up your information to.
3. Click "Set up Backup"
4. A "New Volume" window will pop up. Select your external hard drive.
5. Next, a window giving you the option to choose what you want to backup "Let Me Choose" or let Windows pick of you, "Let Windows Choose". Note: If Windows chooses, it will back up EVERYTHING. System files, music, video, audio. We recommend letting Windows choose.
6. On the next window, you will choose how often you would like your system to back itself up. You can choose anywhere from Weekly to Monthly.
If you're running Windows XP, there's really no straight forward way to back up your computer within the system. Sorry. Don't fret, though, we got you! There are plenty of third party options that will allow you easily back up your data. Our favorite is SyncBack Freeware. This piece of freeware (meaning it costs you nothing) is a simple but powerful back up tool that can allow you to copy entire hard drives, or just select files and folders. It can even email you the results of your backups so you know they went through smoothly. But the best part? (Or second best part since the best part must be that this costs you nothing). It doesn't hog your computer resources. It plays nicely in the background, so you can set it and forget it, or keep working.
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