Each of us save a large amount of data in the form of files and photos to our PCs, much of which we’d hate to lose … a daughter’s wedding, the birth of a new addition to the family, the annual tax files, your mail, your contacts. And PCs aren’t infallible. Sectors on a hard drive can go bad or an entire hard drive can fail. You can click on a link in an email sent to you from what looks to be your trusted friend, only to find out it wasn’t and now, your PC is no longer playing nice. That’s why it’s extremely important to maintain backups of your files that are easily accessible and on a stored on a different drive than the one on which they’re currently stored.
If you have only one drive in your PC, there are two things you’ll need to consider for your back up: (1) WHERE are you going to store your back up files and (2) HOW are you going to connect that storage device to your PC.
1 – Where Are you Going to Store Your Backup?
If you bought yourself a more expensive workstation, you may have more than one internal hard drive, and you’re in great shape. If you bought a “deal” at your local Walmart, more than likely you’ve got only ONE internal drive. It may have been deal at the time, but typically, those cheap PCs from Walmart have no place inside to plug in another internal hard drive. Similarly, if you have a Laptop, it’s not likely you’ll be able to easily plug in a second internal hard drive. So, the first thing you need to do is buy yourself an external hard drive. But what kind, and how big?
A good rule of thumb when looking for an external USB drive is to buy one that at a minimum, has at least twice the capacity of your “C” drive. So — how big is your hard drive? One way you can find that out is to open the Properties panel for your “C” drive. To do that, hold down the windows key (usually found in the lower left corner of your keyboard, next to the CTRL key) and while you’re holding that windows key down, press and release the E key to open a 2-pane Windows Explorer window.
In the left hand pane, navigate to the “C” drive in the list and RIGHT-click on it and select “Properties” (usually at the bottom of the list) to open a property panel similar to the one at the right. In this example, the drive is 111 GB in size. Thus, we could get by with a 250GB drive for our backup, but you could most like purchase a 500GB or a 1TB external USB drive on sale this upcoming holiday season for the same price or lesser price than a 250GB drive.
2 – What type of External Hard Drive Should I purchase?
Okay, so let’s say your laptop or desktop PC doesn’t have that essential second internal hard drive on which to store your backups. Our next step is to decide what type of external drive we need to buy — USB2 or USB3. USB2 drives can be plugged into either a USB2 or a USB3 port and work, because USB3 ports are what’s called: “downward compatible.” What that means is, USB3 ports can pass information from USB2 devices. If you find a great deal on and purchase a USB3 device, you can only plug that into a USB3 port. So how do you know which ports you have?
If you have an older PC/laptop, you may just have USB2 ports. If you have a not-so-old PC/laptop, you may have both — at least one USB2 port and one USB3 port. If you have a relatively new PC or laptop, you may have only USB3 ports.
Once you know which type of USB connection your particular PC has, you’re ready to go shopping and find the best deal for the size drive you’ll need to store at least two backups of your system drive. There will be quite a few good deals to be had this holiday season. Just make sure the external storage drive you decide to purchase is one that will work with your PC or laptop.