Backup basics

The primary reason to backup data is to avoid data loss.

There are many ways to lose information from a computer - a power surge, theft of the computer itself, lightning, floods, and sometimes equipment just fails. If you regularly make backup copies of your files and keep them in a separate place, you can get some, if not all, of your information back if something happens to the originals on your computer.

What is a backup?

In information technology, backup refers to making copies of data so that these additional copies may be used to restore the original after a data loss event. These additional copies are typically called "backups."

Backups are invaluable following a disaster (called disaster recovery), or to restore files after they have been accidentally deleted or corrupted, or as a result of data loss.

What to backup and how often?

Anything that cannot be replaced easily should be backed up. The question of 'how often' depends on individual circumstances - the currency of the data; the ability to replace it, if at all; the cost of replacement including the 'cost' of time.

Where to backup?

A basic rule for backups is multiple copies in multiple locations on different media.

Student backup options - recommendations and facilities for backing up course related data

Staff backup options - recommendations and facilities for backing up work related data


Home backups

On your home computer, consider backing up the following:

  • Bank records and other financial information
  • Digital photographs
  • Software you purchased and downloaded from the Internet
  • Music you purchased and downloaded from the Internet
  • Personal projects
  • Your e-mail address book
  • Your calendar
  • Your web browser bookmarks