Back up, back up, and back up some more

by Andrew Robinson

I know this is going to sound like an over-protective parent, but if you use a computer at home or in your business, you have to back up your data or you WILL lose it, guaranteed. All computers will fail, and of course it will happen at the worst possible time, so take a moment for a little experiment. Right now, as you are reading this, your computer has died. No recovery. Nothing. Imagine it stolen, melted, crunched under a car or whatever but RIGHT NOW, everything on the computer you use every day is gone. The next time you sit down with your computer at home or the office — especially if you have a laptop that you use at BOTH your home and office — take a look at all the data you have there and imagine it missing. All your pictures, all your music, all your email, your favorite website ad­dresses, your home finance spreadsheets, work reports, school essays, columns, and that Great International Bestseller you’ve been working on. No take backs.

Now, what do you do? The good news is that there is a kind of ‘take back’ in one of the many back up solutions available at any budget level. Retrospect from Dantz (, is one leading software package that works with both home consumers and businesses, for both Macs and Windows PCs. Their software will back up your data to hard drives, CDs/ DVDs or digital tapes, and when the inevitable happens, Retrospect can retrieve your data from those archives. Even if you didn’t lose your whole computer, just deleting the wrong file can be fixed by pulling a copy off an archive and restoring it to your computer.

That is, Retrospect can do these things if your data is actually backed up. Any such system is only as reli­able as the person that is running it — you. Software like Retrospect can remind you to perform a backup and it can retrieve data that is lost, but if you forget, postpone, or skip things you will regret it. I know a computer specialist that backs up his laptop three times a day, every day, on two different hard drives — one at home and one at his office. While you may think that’s crazy, take it from someone who should have known better and who once lost years of work and memories in one afternoon: You can never… NEVER… back up your data too much.