[ad]Dear Computer Lady,
I want to know how external hard drives work.
I bought one (WD) several years ago to protect my files, but instead of storing them in the unit itself, I think it stored them in the computer somewhere. What good would that be if something happened to that computer?
Are there any external hard drives that store the information right there on that unit, a super size USB drive so to speak?
Thanks for all the years of teaching. I have learned a lot from you over the years.
You are right, a backup stored on your computer itself would be useless in the event of virus infection, theft, fire or even hard drive failure. You need to store your backup on a drive that can be physically disconnected from your computer.
Just make sure your backup drive storage capacity is larger than your hard drive size and you should be all set.
Any external hard drive with adequate space can be used to store a backup copy of your files. You just need to setup your backup software correctly. In fact, the #1 reason backups fail is that it was not set up correctly in the first place.
Most external hard drives come with their own version of backup software (some only come with a trial version) and they each work a little differently, so I can’t give you step by step directions. One thing to keep in mind though is that those backup programs save your files in their own format, and you will need that same backup program installed on your computer in order to recover the files again.
For those reasons, I prefer a universal backup program like Acronis True Image. You can install the program on your current PC and if you need to restore to a different computer, you can download and install it on the new PC as well.
You can learn how to set up several different kinds of backups following the directions in the downloadable user guide.
You don’t have to learn a new backup program every time you purchase a new backup drive.
I have also noticed that good backup programs like Acronis have more powerful features than many of the programs that come with external hard drives.
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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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