Few things are as frustrating as computer failure, but that frustration can quickly turn to devastation when a crashed hard drive takes all of your irreplaceable digital files with it. If you're a small business owner operating from one computer or a small handful of desktops, the risks are even greater. Losing all of your vital business information could spell disaster, which is why backing up your computer should be an urgent priority.
There are two ways to go about it: by using a cloud backup solution or by installing data backup software. The difference between the two is easily explained. Cloud services back up files and folders to a remote physical location, whereas data backup software can save a local or cloud copy of your entire computer, including installed programs and settings. The best backup software programs have the ability to perform a complete image backup that you can migrate to entirely different hardware if your computer becomes severely damaged or totally destroyed.
When shopping around for the software that will best fit your needs, there are numerous factors to take into consideration. At its core, the program should be capable of performing complex functions but also simple enough that someone without a degree in computers can figure out how to operate it. We performed a number of backup software reviews and found NovaBACKUP, Acronis Backup for PC and Genie Backup Manager to be the three best backup software programs. To read more, check out our articles about data backup software.
In our evaluations, we found all of the best backup software programs include a number of features essential to protect your computer and data. First and foremost is the ability to perform full, incremental and differential backup. All of the data backup software programs we reviewed include all three. The difference between these three types of backup is the time it takes to perform each task, as well as the frequency of backup. Full backups save everything, including files, folders and applications. Differential backups only save the files that have changed since the last full backup. Incremental backups only preserve the data that has changed since the last incremental backup. Differential backups save bigger chunks, while incremental backups are smaller and quicker. Each of these is vital to your ability to recover in the event of a crashed computer or wiped out data.
Of additional importance is the ability to back up individual files and folders, as well as the ability to back up files that may be open and running in some applications. All of the products in our top 10 list also feature password protection, which is critical to keeping your files secure. They also all share the ability to perform data compression, which shrinks the amount of space needed for a backup. Additionally, the ability to restore individual files and folders, and to restore data to separate locations, is a function that all products in our list share – as is the presence of customized backup scheduling tools.
In addition to these critical and common functions, the following are the criteria we used to determine which program will offer you the best overall performance:
We sought out backup solutions that come with a diversity of functions, including the ability to perform a complete system backup, or a clone of your drive. This is also known as an image backup that you can use to restore the entire contents of your computer to dissimilar hardware, which you may have to do if your computer dies or becomes irreparably damaged due to mechanical failure or a nasty virus.
Other useful functions to look for include the ability to create a bootable backup, selective backup of just the files and folders you specify, and in-built virus scanning to stave off malware attacks. Drive spanning is another useful feature that lets you back up your whole system across a handful of removable media, such as CDs or DVDs. Backup wizards are also extremely helpful, as they walk you through complex processes to ensure your critical data is backed up properly.
Recover & Restore
Having the ability to easily restore lost data is just as important as having the ability to back it up in the first place. Look for data backup software that not only preserves all of the original data files and paths, but that can also restore all of that information automatically. You should also be able to restore individual files and folders. The ability to do so to a separate location, like another computer, is also important – as is the software's ability to restore files that are universally viewable, meaning you won't need to launch the backup program to access them.
Scheduling & Reporting
As a small business owner, you want to ensure that the data backup software you purchase has the ability to run reports and send you notifications to confirm your vital data has been safely backed up. The best backup software lets you schedule when backups occur so that you don't bog down your computer with heavy tasks during business hours. Some software also can be set to send you email notifications of backups performed, in addition to giving you a detailed event log. Backup software programs with remote scheduling capabilities let you administrate your account and run backups when you're not physically in your home office.
Help & Support
Excellent support options are necessary to provide you with answers to questions or solutions to issues that may arise when running complex tasks. We looked for companies that offer the greatest number of support options, including an online knowledgebase and FAQs. The best backup software programs also come with the greatest number of options for speaking to someone directly, including email, live chat and telephone support.
When the successful operation of your home business relies on the performance of your computer, investing in a high-quality data backup software program is imperative. It can help you get back up and running if you experience computer failure due to corrupted data, viruses or mechanical wear and tear.