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FrequencyCast UK Tech Podcast

Backing Up Your Data

Keeping a safe copy of all of your valuable PC data is hardly fun, but it is important. Explore some of the easy ways to keep your digital life secure.

Some Scary Statistics

Here are some stats we've discovered:

  • Accidental Deletion - 43% of people lose irreplaceable files every year.
  • Theft or Loss - Only 3 out of 100 stolen laptops are ever recovered.
  • Disaster  - Thousands of files are lost each year to fires, floods, and other disasters. Your hardware may be insured, but is the data protected?
  • Drive Failure - Up to 13% of hard drives crash in their first year.


How safe is the following?

  • Your address book, mobile numbers and calendar data?
  • Your life's collection of digital photos?
  • Your MP3 music collection, camcorder files and movies?
  • Letters, spreadsheets, databases and financial records?


How do I keep stuff safe?

OK - we've convinced you that backups are important... so how do you take backups? Rather than reading this page, you might prefer to hear our audio feature on how to take backups.

How to take backups - Podcast feature in FrequencyCast Show 47


Basic Back-up

CDGot data on your PC you want to keep safe? The basic way to do this is to burn a copy of your important files onto a DVD or CD, and keep them offsite.

If you need a good software solution for creating CD and DVD backup disks, we'd recommend the Nero package available from Amazon or


Standalone hard drives

These connect via USB2 and come with built-in software to allow you to create a backup of your desktop or laptop. There are two big players in the external drive market:

  • Seagate FreeAgent desktop drives. These come with encryption, connect via USB and are available in a range of sizes
  • Western Digital Passport drive - Slightly more stylish than others on the market, and some models come with a nice visual indicator of what's backed up. Password encrypted.
Seagate FreeAgent 500GB
Seagate FreeAgent 500GB - £55 from PC World
Western Digital Passport 320GB
Western Digital Passport 320GB - £50 from PC World

Owning a backup drive is no good unless you use it to back up files regularly, and it's best to try to automate this task if possible. We recommend SyncBack as backup software. This lets you set up scheduled backup tasks. You can create a series of tasks and decide how frequently they will run and what will be archived. SyncBack is a $30 dollar piece of shareware from 2 Bright Sparks. There's a 14 day trial version available - 14-day SyncBack Trial.

SyncBack Backup Software
SyncBack Backup Software


Click Free Drives

These USB backup drives make backing up your data a breeze. No software to install and no complexity. Plug a Click Free drive into a spare USB slot and it will automatically back up your photos, music, video, email, documents and important files.

Click Free drives backs up over 400 file types. They can be used on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Mac OSX systems.

ClickFree 160GB Drive
ClickFree 160GB Drive - £63 from PC World
ClickFree 1TB Drive
ClickFree 1TB Drive - £160 from PC World


NAS - Network Attached Storage

These are intended to connect to a home network and allow any connected machine to back up to secure storage, They are also commonly used as media sharing devices, so that you can share and stream music and video from any device on the network.

Pictured here is a Linksys Media Hub which connects to a router via high speed Ethernet. It has a web interface, automatic backup software, supports 3 simultaneous HD streams, encrypts data, has a spare drive slot and also can act as a printer server.

LinkSys Media Hub
Linksys Media Hub 500GB - £170 from PC World



A low-priced option for the cautious. Buy a small firesafe and store your backup drives, DVD backups and other valuables such as passport and driving licence. The one pictured here is only £40 and is guaranteed to withstand temperatures of up to 840ºc for 30 minutes.

Document Firesafe
Cathedral Document Fire Safe - From Staples

Online backups

To keep your data safe, you really need to keep it off-site. Having a backup drive is no good if it's attached to your PC stolen / damaged. You should ideally aim to keep your important stuff held securely offsite. Typically, you'd use a secure online storage service for this. Here are three worth a look:

  • Acronis Online Backup - Acronis offers a range of data security services - Their Online Backup service includes software that manages your backups automatically, and allows up to 250GB of data to be backed up. Multiple PCs are supported, and the software allows for flexible and secure handling of your data. The service is priced at under £40 a year. A free trial is available from
  • Carbonite Online Backup - This service lets you back up important files from a PC or a Mac. Unlike many such services, there's no limit on the amount of data you can store with Carbonite. It's secure, and at the time of writing, it costs $55 a year to keep it all safe. The current version of Carbonite is designed for Windows XP and Windows Vista. Mac OS 10.4 and 10.5 are supported. it won't run on Windows 98, Windows 2000, and Windows ME. A free 14 day trial is available at
  • Norton Online Backup - Supports 5 computers and secures up to 25GB of data. Automatic backup, schedule, alerts. £49 a year for 25GB. Restore individual files, folders or an entire backup. Also access files securely from any web browser. Available from
  • Tech Guys Data Vault - Data Vault allows you to automatically back up and synchronise files, edit Microsoft files without having to install MS Office, play music and videos through any PC via the Internet. Unlimited storage for £89 a year. Available from PC World
ClickFree 160GB Drive
Norton Online - 25GB for £49 a year
ClickFree 1TB Drive
DataVault from PC World - Unlimited storage for £90


Acronis Online Backup


Mobile Phone Backups

As well as backing up your PC... don't forget the data on your mobile - phone numbers, diary, photo collection and music. Most phones allow you to sync to a PC. You might also want to consider a SIM card backup gadget...

Seagate FreeAgent 500GB
Combined card reader, with software for SIM backup. Under £10 from
Western Digital Passport 320GB
SIM backup keyring with screen - under £10.99 from Amazon

Listen to the FrequencyCast UK online radio show
FrequencyCast Podcast IconPODCAST FEATURE: Data Backups: We looked at ways to back up in show 47.
Listen to the show online, or download it to your MP3 player.

Listen to Show 47 | What is FrequencyCast? | Add us to iTunes

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