©2021 Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2021-05-10
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ABSTRACT: This is Part 3 of this series and deals with backups, both offline and online.  You need backups of your data, but not your programs, since programs can be reinstalled by downloading the installation files.  To reinstall your programs you do need your license keys and Part 1 of this series included a way to keep track of those.  Offline backups, e.g. external hard drives, are helpful, but if they are near your computer, in a disaster they may be gone too.  Online backups are "in the cloud", so both
types of backs are better, but any backup is better than none.  The notes for this class and related articles, all with active internet links, are posted on my website .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of St. George and Provo, Utah.
  2. These notes, with active internet links and other related articles, are on Don's website .
  3. Tips:  (1)  Easy to put an icon on your desktop for these notes or any other webpage; just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link from here in another tab, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today:  What about backups, both near your computer and on the internet?

  6. Part 1 of this series dealt with operating systems and hard drives and Part 2 dealt with viruses and malware.
  7. This class, Part 3, deals with backups, both offline and online; offline backups are on devices like external hard drives; online backups are on the internet "in the cloud".
  8. These classes deal mostly with the Windows operating system, but similar items are available for Macs.

  10. Most computer users have lost files sometime; Teaches used to hear, "My dog ate my homework."; now it's "My dog hit the delete key and all my homework vanished." :=)
  11. A system I've worked out, after losing files, is to keep several generations of backups for files I'm working on by adding the date YYYY-MM-DD at the end of the file name as I save it when I finish working on it for the day; this is International Date Format and makes the files alphabetize in chronological order with the latest at the bottom; then I delete the earlier backups when I'm sure I don't need them anymore.  
  12. Backups of your entire system, including the operating system and programs, are very large, but you really only need to backup your data files, since the OS and programs can be reinstalled from downloading the installation files; you'll need the license keys for the programs to reinstall them and we discussed how to save those in Part 1 of this series.
  13. Backups can be "local", e.g. offline on external hard drives, or "in the cloud", i.e. on the internet.  
  14. External hard drive backups are easier to get to and restore from, but a disaster such as a flood, fire, or theft, may remove them, as well as your computer.
  15. Online backups are stored "in the cloud", that is, on the internet, and make it so you can recover from a home disaster, even if your entire computer and external hard drives are destroyed or stolen or if you inadvertently delete some file.
  16. The best idea seems to be to have both types of backups, external hard drives and online. 
  17. Some people back up to external hard drives and rotate them to a child's home or a bank vault periodically, so then you would only lose the last period's data after a disaster, but that may be many important files. 
  18. Some helps and articles about backups
    1. Articles with links for free backup software to backup your computer
    2. Windows 10 Backup and Restore Points -- Control Panel > Backups and Restore 
    3. Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter --
    4. Lifewire - 33 Free programs -- 
    5. Lifewire -- Free cloud storage -- 
    6. CNet Reader Survey -- 

  20. You can buy a 3 terabyte external hard drive for less than $100; I recently heard of a 35 terabyte external hard drive for $350.
  21. "Passport" external hard drives do not require an external power source, so they just plug into a USB port and operate like large flash drives and are much easier to use; a fellow at Costco told that 2 terabytes is the largest "passport" hard drive, so anything larger has to have an external power source.
  22. Inexpensive hard drive cases are available, if you want to remove an internal hard drive and use it as an external hard drive; the case has a USB port that you can connect to your computer.

  24. There are many companies that will store your backups "in the cloud"; they usually have several online storage locations not all in the same time zone, and they backup your files on each "computer farm"  
  25. BACKBLAZE -- -- is one I've used for several years; it gives unlimited backup space for one computer and I have 3 terabytes of stuff stored on their hard drive farms; they are not expensive, in fact exactly 1/4th the price that I was paying for a local online backup company; I can set it to back up any or all of my directories and they send me a weekly email about how much they have backuped up of my files; I can download any of my files from their storage and, in the event of a complete need, I can request that they send me a hard drive with all my files on it to reinstall
  26. Automatic backups mean you don't have to think about it and you can recover from problems, but one thing to be careful of - if you inadvertently delete a file and don't realize it for a week or two, it will be deleted from your backups, too; so be careful. 
  27. See more information and other online backup companies in the articles above.  

  29. Keep your operating system and programs up-to-date, use a virus checker., and have some kind of backups.
  30. You never know when you will need the backup; it's like insurance; you hope you never need it, but when you do, it's invaluable and much cheaper than anything else. 

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