In this excerpt from
Answercast #48, I look at some issues around using a memory stick as a
backup media and point to step-by-step instructions.
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Backup to a memory stick
I have two pieces of advice for you.
- One is: don’t use a memory stick!
You can, but I don’t recommend it for ongoing backups.
Limits of flash memory
The problem is that memory sticks use flash memory and flash memory has a
limited number of times you can write to it before it actually wears out.
Now typically, that’s not usually a huge problem, especially if you’re doing
backups periodically, but it’s just something that makes me really
uncomfortable because backups are so incredibly important.
Backup to an external drive
What I recommend you do instead is actually go out and get yourself an
external hard drive. They are not terribly expensive and you end up with half a
terabyte (or more even) for not that much money.
Backup drive size
That’s the other part of this: 64 GB, while it sounds like a lot of room, is actually (once you start doing backups) not a whole lot.
If you’re just backing up files manually, it might be okay. But if you’re
using backup software (which is what I’m going to recommend next), then it
starts to be on the leading edge of not enough space to backup your system the way you really should be backing up your system.
So, how do you do it?
How to backup
Well, a memory stick or an external drive (we treat them both the same
way) is just a disk:
- It’s going to appear on your system as another drive.
So, what you need to do is either of two things.
1) Copy files…
You simply copy files from your hard disk to the memory stick like you would
copy it anywhere else.
- By making a copy, you are effectively backing up those files.
That’s very simplistic. It’s also very error prone because:
It relies on you remembering to backup your files;
It backs up only those files that you remember to backup;
And it only backs up when you do it.
It’s one of those things that’s very easy to forget and it’s also very easy
not to backup all of the files you really intended to.
2) Invest in a backup program…
What I strongly recommend people do, whenever it comes to backup, is to
invest in a backup program:
- I personally recommend and use Macrium Reflect.
That is a program you will run on your machine and you will configure it to
perform periodic backups.
You know what? Backup the C drive to this other location once a day (or
something like that);
Or do incremental backups so that you’re not backing up the
entire thing everyday, but only those things that have changed since the
Using a backup program
Now, I can could go on in a lot of detail about backing up because it is an
I do have a bunch of articles on how to backup on my site.
I also have a book
7: Backing Up is a book that I wrote that specifically goes through the
process step-by-step of backing up your machine using Macrium Reflect and/or
Windows own built in back up with Windows 7.
There’s lots of resources on the site.
I really want to point you at the backup
articles I have on the site.
I kind-of want to wave you away from using the flash disk, the memory
You can! Don’t get me wrong, you can. Just realize that, in my opinion, it’s
probably not sufficient and it might even be a little risky.
- I recommend instead you get an external hard drive and use some backup
Currently, I’m recommending Macrium Reflect as the best way to go about doing that.
If you’re so inclined, grab a copy of Maintaining Windows 7: Backing Up.
It literally walks you through these things. Once you register the
book online, you also get access to a bunch of videos that will show you how to
do this step-by-step using Macrium Reflect and Windows own internal
Next from Answercast 48 – What does it mean to “like” something on Facebook?