How often do I need to back up the data on my computer?

Backing up your data is one of the most important steps you can perform in practicing safe computing. Unfortunately, this step is often overlooked. If your computer hard drive malfunctions or if your computer gets compromised by a virus or hacker, the potential of losing all your data is highly likely. All your locally stored email, your work or school documents, pictures — anything of importance to you — is gone in an instant.


To avoid this type of disaster you need to back up your files.

There are a lot of ways to back up your data. Typically, this is done by using a USB thumb drive or a larger external USB hard drive. There are also many internet-based services that provide backup services for little or no cost. For small amounts of data, consider Dropbox or similar services.


Computers running Mac OS X have the option to use Time Machine to automatically back up files. This program still requires the use of an external storage device, but the backups are integrated into the system and will occur frequently and automatically.


Once you determine which way suits you best, begin to make regular backups. A good practice is to do it once a week. You, though, are the best judge in determining how often you need to back up your data. If you are updating files regularly during the week, it would be good to perform a weekly backup. If there are only occasional changes, then maybe once every two weeks, or once a month would be more appropriate. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to get in the practice of backing up your data.