How many times have you worked on a really important file and thought to email a copy to yourself in case something happens? How often do you make changes on a document but still want to refer back to the original version so you save the new versions under different file names?

Manual backup

If these sound familiar to you, then, you are using one form of backup system called manual backups. Manual backups are backups you make by hand, thus the name. A few years back, the only way to do backups was manually creating a new file or saving files to tape drives that are often expensive and slow.

Many people haven’t even heard of tape drives, and only a handful could actually afford them. Corporations were the ones who mainly used tape drives for large data backups.

Good thing that today, there are already a lot of backup solutions available for users than ever before, including software and hardware options.

DVDs, CDs, and Blu-ray Disks

For the longest time, making a backup to CDs was the most popular way to protect your files since almost all computers had a CD burner, not to mention that CDs were very inexpensive and easy to find. Sadly, CDs can just store about 700MB per disk.

Once DVDs were introduced, they were pricier alternatives but with better capacity of 4 to 8 GB. Blu-ray disks then came along that can hold an amazing 25 to 50 GB of data. But, Blu-ray burners weren’t really able to catch on, with blank discs still remaining to be very expensive.

Color photo of backup devices: hard drive, USB key and micro SD card.
Today, there are already a lot of backup solutions available for users than ever before. | Photo credit: Pixabay
Hard Drive Clone

A hard drive clone is sometimes called a system restore drive or a bootable backup but the main idea remains the same. This is a complete backup of your hard drive taken at a particular point in time. These types of backups are ideally used for rebooting your computer if ever the hard drive dies even though some systems have been designed only for restoring a copy to a new drive.

External Hard Drive Backup

When backing up files to an external hard drive, usually, you are not backing up your entire drive. What you are doing instead is that you just back up the files that are most important to you. Unlike cloned drives, archives are not tied to a certain moment in time. This is instead meant to just show you the history of your files which include changes as well as deleted files.

An archive will help you recover damaged files or files with changes made that you wish to undo. If you opened one file and you discovered that there are some missing details which used to be there, either because it was accidentally removed or overwritten, you will know how helpful the archive is.

If you resized a photo and you accidentally saved a version smaller than the original, you can still get the original if this was archived on the external hard drive.

Remote Hard Drive

If you have many computers, you may backup files from a computer to another with the use of a specialized software. You may also backup to the computer of your friend or to the backup device you have in your network. It’s the same to the archive method.

The only difference is that it doesn’t need another hard drive that is connected to your computer. Rather than using your internet connection or LAN connection to backup files. It’s convenient for the portable computers that could not be plugged in a backup hard drive.

Online Storage Service

Another backup option is through an online storage service including Azure of Microsoft, Rackspace, Glacier of Amazon, and Amazon S3. Some services such as Dropbox, iCloud Drive, Google Drive, and so on can be also a good backup solution since they provide different copies of a file in various places.

What about Concerns?

But, such services are designed for syncing files and aren’t a real backup solution. One of the reasons that synchronizing files isn’t a great backup system is that once you delete files in a place, it’ll be deleted all. If deletion was an accident, you only have multiplied your mistakes. Other than that, majority of sharing and syncing services go back to backup’s manual approach and put onus on the users to copy important files in a syncing service.

Black and white photo of PC screen, tablet and smart phone in front of cloud; used to illustrate the meaning of cloud backup.
If you don’t have backups, the simplest starting point is signing up for cloud backup services. | Photo credit: Pixabay
Online Cloud Backup Service

If you take the convenience of the archive backups and eliminate the complexity of data backup to online storage services, an online cloud backup service is another option.

All that’s needed is to make an account, download as well as install small piece of software. You can also set it to run at the background of your computer. If you want them, there are more advanced settings made available for you. They include or exclude particular kinds of files or folders.

What’s the Best Backup Solution for You and Your Needs?

The best backup system will use 2 or more of those mentioned solutions available in the market including at least an off-site backup. If you don’t have backups at all, the simplest starting point is signing up for cloud backup services. You may do it today with your computer and even without the need to purchase extra hardware. Your computer will back up itself anytime there’s an access to internet connection.

Aside from that, local archives will provide you the chance to restore some accidentally deleted files quickly and provide you extra peace of mind. Clone backup is also a complete backup system that will ensure that you can get back to work immediately even though your hard drive dies completely.


The best possible backup solution for you may depend on some factors. It varies depending on your needs, files to backup, and your budget. Not all backup solutions are available for free of charge. Most of them would require you a certain amount of budget. Some of these backup solutions can be cheap and expensive. Depending on your preferences, choose the one that would benefit you best.

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Backup Solutions for Home Users

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