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Backup Strategies

At this time we do not have a university-wide solution for a complete individual desktop data backups. Users are ultimately responsible for backing up their own data.

Every Roosevelt employee has an RU Files account that can be used to store backups of important files. This online storage and collabortation tool offers 5GB of space to each user. RU Files can be accessed at http://rufiles.roosevelt.edu

You HAVE to back up your files. It might be inconvenient and it might seem like a waste of time, but if you backup files on a regular basis then at some point you're going to be extremely happy that you did. If you don't back up your files, you should probably consider all of them just temporary files that WILL be lost one day!

Before we talk about the hardware/software necessary to backup files, let's talk about WHAT to backup and WHERE it is located. Many people keep most, if not all, of their files in the My Documents folder (Macs typically use a folder called Documents for this purpose). Keeping all your files in that folder simplifies the backup process because all you have to do is backup that one folder. If you store files in other folders, you'll want to make a note of these folders so you can include them in your backup plan.

PC users may also want to backup your Outlook PST file. This is file created when Personal Folders are installed, and it includes all of the mail and other items that you have moved off of the server. The location of this file varies, bur you can find out where it is:

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Open Mail
  3. Click the "Data Files" button
  4. Double-click on "Personal Folders." You'll see a window like the one below.

     personal folder location

  5. The filename shows you the location of the PST file you'll want to backup.

So you can see one of the problems you may encounter when backing up your files--you need to know where all of your files are in order to make a good backup. If you're unsure where all of your files are, look for hardware/software solutions that offer complete backup solutions.

Hardware

There are many ways to backup files and a few prerequisites. Obviously, you'll need a place to backup the files to, and your choices are many. They include:

  • Network Storage (like RU Files)
  • USB Flash drive
  • A CD or DVD
  • External Hard Drive

Each choice has its own benefits depending upon your needs. Here's a quick summary of each option:

Network Storage - RU Files gives all staff and faculty 5GB of space on a network server which you can use to store files. The advantage to this is that you don't need to buy any hardware or software, and your folders/files are available either as a mapped drive or through a web interface. The software client available for RU Files also allow you to perform simple scheduled backups and synchronization. RU Files can be accessed at http://rufiles.roosevelt.edu

USB Flash drive - available in sizes up to 4gb and more, flash drives are easy to use and relatively inexpensive. To backup files to a flash drive, you can perform a copy and paste in Windows Explorer. Because of their limited storage size, you may not be able to version your backups (this mean that if you backup all of your files on July 10, you may not have enough room to keep those files and the files you backup on July 17, so you may have to delete older backups to make room for newer backups). Flash drives are also easily lost and somewhat fragile. Still, for convenience, they are hard to beat.

CD or DVD - if you have a CD or DVD writer in your computer, you can easily create backups onto disks. CDs store up to 750MG and DVDs store 4.7GB (about 6 times what a CD can store). Disks have the advantage of being inexpensive portable. The downside is you might need some special software to burn the files onto the disks. You can use Windows Explorer to make backup disks but other software, like Nero, comes with backup solutions that can help automate the process.

External hard drive - an external hard drive plugs into a USB or Firewire port. Windows recognizes it as just another hard drive, allowing you to copy files from one drive to another. Some external hard drives come with backup software that can backup your files automatically as they are created or changed, and they'll do a complete backup of all your files. These drives are availabe in sizes up to 500GB, plenty of room for your files and much more! The drives are more expensive than either USB drives or CD/DVDs. They're also not very portable.

Software

Fortunately (or maybe not) there is seemingly no end to the number of software programs that promise to help you backup your files. RU Files is the officially supported storage service offered to all Roosevelt employees. RU Files can be accessed at http://rufiles.roosevelt.edu

There are other options, while not officially recommended by the University, that may meet your individual needs.

Windows Backup - available in Windows, this free program walks you through the backing up of folders and files. Dig into the Advanced settings to change the type of backup and how to schedule it to run daily, weekly, etc.

CD/DVD Burning Software - programs such as Nero and Roxio that are primarily disc writing programs also usually include backup software. The software is usually geared to backing up files onto discs.

"One-touch" or Complete Backup Software - some software programs offer complete backup solutions. These programs will backup every file on your computer. This is advantageous if you do not know the location of all of your critical files and folders.