Backing up a laptop is extremely important. Many laptops have become portable schedulers, databases and financial devices – and losing that information could be catastrophic to businesses and individuals alike. This tutorial is written with two years of computer repair and networking experience to teach you how to backup a laptop.
First, decide what information on your laptop is important to backup. Most commercially available laptops are sold with restoration software, so backing up the entire hard drive may not be necessary (except to save time when reinstalling). If restoration software is available and only vital files need to be backed up (excludes settings or programs), the most cost-effective option is to backup the files on portable storage such as a pen drive. Simply copy the files to the drive and choose “replace all” to replace the old copies.
However, backing up preferences, programs, drivers and the entire operating system (OS) itself is quite another matter. In the event of a catastrophic system crash, the OS will need to be restored to the hard drive from backup. Unfortunately, the storage limits of pen drives and even external hard drives are exceeded by internal hard drives, and the massive amount of data is impractical to backup using the previously mentioned method (besides, Windows won’t allow real-time copying of system files – the method above would have to be followed in MS-DOS).
Third-party backup software makes the process much easier. Programs such as Norton Ghost allow users to create, compress and store laptop backups in an easy-to-use executable format. An ideal backup restoration created by software should be bootable – the backup should be stored on external media which the computer can use to boot-up in the event of system failure. To backup a laptop, open your chosen software and create a backup. Follow instructions per the manual to properly store the backup and make it bootable.
There are a few caveats to laptop backups. First, backing up the entire OS includes every bit of data on the hard drive. That means that viruses and other malware are copied into the backup as well as healthy data. If the system crashed from a malware attack, backups should be scanned for hijacking. Also, only backing up files excludes drivers necessary to operate laptop hardware. Make sure to backup all drivers from the laptop company website in case of emergency.
Backup regularly and often – play it safe!