Five Good Reasons to Start Backing Up Your Computer Now

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Back in the late '90s when a young Justin Timberlake was touring the world with 'N Sync and people still hadn't abbreviated "electronic" mail, a funny thing happened to me -- and by funny, I really mean horrifying. I had just installed a software update on my Bondi Blue iMac and was restarting when...nothing. The computer refused to boot as I got the Apple equivalent of the "blue screen of death," the sad face.

After trying a variety of different things, I realized my computer needed a doctor, so I took it to a Mac repair place where, after a day or so, they informed me that the hard drive was toast and they could replace it and try to recover as much from it as possible. When I got the machine back, I found that I had lost about a third of the data on my drive. Granted, it was like a third of maybe 1GB, but back in those days, it was a lot.

From that point on, I became a convert to backing up my computer. Today, my machine backs up to an external hard drive multiple times each day and I have multiple back-up drives for redundant storage of all sorts of things like photos, music and business files. Whenever someone I know tells me they don't regularly back up their computers, I give them my cautionary tale. But, if you still aren't convinced, here are five reasons to get started doing it today.

5. Memory is cheap. External hard drives today cost next to nothing and cloud storage is getting cheaper by the day. Back-up services like Carbonite run as little as $60 per year. A decent 1TB external hard drive might run you $150. It's money well spent.

4. It works without you even knowing it. If you are using a Mac with an operating system from the past couple of years, you have access to Time Machine, Apple's awesome back-up software. Most back-up software is set it and forget it. You set when you want it to back up and it does it without you even noticing. Software like Time Machine even stores multiple versions so if you want to see an older version of a file from a few days ago, you can do that easily.

3. Your computer will perform better. By doing regular back-ups, particularly by moving some files off of your computer permanently -- a really good external hard drive runs nearly as fast as the hard drive in your computer -- you free up memory and help optimize your computer's performance.

2. Transitioning to a new computer is a lot easier. Software like Time Machine allows you to restore any other Mac to the exact same state as your previous computer. When moving to a new machine, this is one of the fastest and easiest ways to move your files and software from an old computer and you don't have to pay someone to migrate it for you.

1. Security Besides the fact that storing your photos, music, personal stuff and business files is a good idea if you plan on keeping them for a while, it's safer. Transferring critical data to a back-up source means you have copies of really important documents. You can even move some of them off of your computer permanently, disconnecting them from the Internet and anyone who would want to steal them.

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