Indispensable backup software

Are there any software packages that I’d recommend to the general computer user (for Windows PCs)? Yes!

Working with computers day-in and day-out, I have a fairly sophisticated office network with a range of specialised hardware and software. Even so, I share one requirement with everyone who uses a computer: the need to minimise the risk of losing files (by accidental deletion, by hardware malfunction, by electrical fluctuations, by lightning or whatever). I routinely make backup copies of key folders and files, across the network, onto CD/DVD or to external hard drives. It’s a bore, but it’s essential. While I could live if I lost some treasured photographs, it would be a different matter if I lost work files.

The trick, then, is to perform the backup process as simply and with as little fuss as possible. Enter Second Copy by Centered Systems, an inexpensive utility that streamlines the whole backup/file copying process and is utterly dependable.

My first-line backup policy involves an external USB hard disk, unplugged and disconnected when I’m not working, always available when I am. I use Second Copy to update this external disk with specific sets of files that I’m using during the working day. SC enables the creation of multiple ‘profiles’, each of which specifies which files or folders to copy and which folder on the external drive to copy them to. Each profile can be configured with a simple ‘wizard’ interface, with a goodly choice of options (or an ‘Express’ mode that’s just point-and-click). Give each profile a name and launch it with an icon double-click – and it does the work there and then, no having to remember what goes where, no forgetting where stuff belongs. SC is file-copying at its best. Not bad for under $30.

If you have an external hard disk and – like me – are paranoid about losing files, check out the SC website and see what you think.