Data backup is a practice that should be employed in every network where critical data is stored on servers. The same holds true for home users who have documents stored on a personal computer. Equally important is knowing when to backup your data. Whether it’s a college paper, family photos or emails, this information should be backed up a routine basis. By developing a backup schedule and sticking to it, you can assure that your important information can be restored in case of a disaster.

All of the available solutions allow us to backup data on whatever type of medium we choose. However, if you do not implement both a reliable system and a regular schedule, all of your efforts towards saving and securing your data will be to no avail.

The first thing you should do is determine exactly what you want to backup. This is important, as the schedule mainly depends on the size of your information. We have composed a sample schedule to give you an idea of how often certain kinds of data should be backed up:

Small amounts of data – It’s a good idea to backup small amounts of data, such as your important documents, more frequently. Depending on how many new files you are creating, this information should be backed up at least once a week, although a daily or even hourly schedule may be somewhat more reliable.

Medium amounts of data – This mostly pertains to email messages and project files – content that should be backed up at least on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule.

Large amounts of data – Large amounts of data may include all the above with the addition of images, audio files in MP3 format and video files in MPEG format. This type of data should be backed up at least weekly, monthly or yearly.

Complete backup – For the best protection, your entire hard drive can be saved and stored. This will ensure that all of your important files can be restored. While this is more practical in a business environment, a home user should at least perform this method at least once a year.

Another factor that will help you to determine a working a schedule is the method of backup. Will it be manually or with the aid of backup software? Manually saving your files to an external storage unit is convenient and affordable for some, but software gives you the power of automation and tends to be much more reliable. A quality program can be used to store data on a variety of mediums including CDs, DVDs, FTP servers or USB flash drives. These programs can be easily configured to run automatically without even launching them. All you have to do is make sure your computer is powered on during the time of a scheduled run.

A backup schedule is essential in any computing environment. If you’re concerned that it slows down your performance, set the backup to run a few hours before your work day begins. The most important thing is to develop a backup schedule and stick to it. If you backup your data consistently, you are one important step ahead of an unexpected disaster.