The blog of Windows Wally, a Windows Support Technician helping common people solve frustrating computer problems.



How To Backup Important Files For A Long Time?

Reader Question:
“Hi Wally, I’ve read many times that you need to backup your important data. Where is the best place to save your data where it will be the most secure and last the longest.“ - Matthew W., New Zealand

Before addressing any computer issue, I always recommend scanning and repairing any underlying problems affecting your PC health and performance:

  • Step 1 : Download PC Repair & Optimizer Tool (WinThruster for Win7, XP, Vista – Microsoft Gold Certified).
  • Step 2 : Click “Start Scan” to find Windows registry issues that could be causing PC problems.
  • Step 3 : Click “Repair All” to fix all issues.

Setting up weekly (or daily) automatic scans will help prevent system problems and keep your PC running fast and trouble-free.

Wally’s Answer: While many blogs and websites advice people to make backups, most of them don’t really explain how. When I write blogs, I like to clear any confusion by just telling people to copy their data to a USB disk. This advice can work for most people who don’t plan to store this data long term.

Simply copying your data anywhere means that you’re not aware of the shortcomings of certain storage medium. We’ll explore making backups on different types of storage devices and how long that data might last before you cannot copy it anymore.

What Is A Backup?

A backup is data that has been compressed or copied somewhere for use in case of data loss. This data can be saved on different types of storage.

DVDs & Blu-Rays

If you want to store data on DVDs or Blu-Ray disks then make sure to buy good quality disks. They are a cheap option for data storage. The lifespan of that data can vary based on a few factors, the most important being quality of the disk and the way it is kept. Some DVDs can last up to 14 years or more. Avoid using Re-Writable DVDs for storing data long-term. Blu-Rays last longer but they also don’t last forever.

Backup - DVDs & Blu-Rays -- Windows Wally

USB Flash or Pen/Thumb Drive

These USB disks can store data for 10 years or maybe even longer. How long they last depends on quality of the disk and how many times data has been stored and deleted from it. A higher write cycle rating should result in a longer lifespan.

Backup - USB Flash -- Windows Wally

External Hard Drive (not a solid-state drive)

An external hard drive is essentially the same as the hard drive inside your computer except that it runs off of USB or some other cable. While in use, hard drives should last around three to five years. An external hard drive that is only used for backups should last a bit longer. You can use a hard drive like this to backup your computer’s whole hard disk.

Backup - External Hard Drive -- Windows Wally

Online Backup

This is probably the best option if you want your data to be kept safe for a long time. It is a great way to backup and share files in real-time. It has become a trend to store files in the cloud because it is practical. Cloud storage providers usually store multiple copies of your data to make sure it is not deleted if a hard drive gets damaged or if something else happens in the data center.

Backup - Online Backup -- Windows Wally

Is Your PC Healthy?

I always recommend to my readers to regularly use a trusted registry cleaner and optimizer such as WinThruster or CCleaner. Many problems that you encounter can be attributed to a corrupt and bloated registry.

Happy Computing! :)

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About the Author

Windows Wally is a helpful guy. It’s just in his nature. It’s why he started a blog in the first place. He heard over and over how hard it was to find simple, plain-English solutions to Windows troubleshooting problems on the Internet. Enter: Windows Wally. Ask away, and he will answer.