Keep your data safe Backing up tips

External hard drives are straightforward to fit, usually connecting directly to a USB port on your computer. Once you have connected the drive with the supplied cable, both desktop and portable hard drives will show up on your PC as a new drive under My Computer.

You can save files here in just the same way as you would to your PC’s own hard drive or to a USB stick.

Backup schedule

When you set your backup schedule, you’ll first have to tell your backup software exactly what you want to safeguard. You will probably be asked to choose the type of file (such as music, images, and word processing) you want to back up, or specific folders.

Important files may include things like business, tax and other financial records, email messages, photos and videos. You can then schedule your backup frequency. This will depend on the type of data you’re protecting – if it’s key work documents that change every day, then it’s probably worth backing up daily, but if it’s a collection of digital photos that only gets added to every few weeks, then a weekly backup will be sufficient.

Automatic backups

Ideally, your backup will be carried out when the PC is switched on, but not in use. Scheduling an automatic backup to your external hard drive will ensure that it happens regularly – unlike backing up to DVD, for instance, where you always have to make sure you have a blank disc in the drive ready to go.

However, backing up in this way does have its advantages. When you make a backup to a DVD, you are able to take the backup away and put it somewhere else. Keep in mind that some computer disasters (such as fire or theft) could affect an external hard drive as well as the PC itself, so off-site storage is a good idea if you want to make sure that your precious files are protected.