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Issue #712: March 14-20, 2021

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Q: I have a basic question. I finally feel the need to back up my hard drive.  I don’t need all of it, probably just documents, pictures, maybe email. I don’t want to spend much on an extra hard drive, hopefully not more than $100. Can this be done on a flash drive? I need to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro to use two hard drives, $100 there. Would I need to do that too?

 – Suzy P.
Navarre, Florida

A: I’ll forgive you for “finally” deciding to do back-ups, Suzy.  If you’ve never lost data, consider yourself pretty lucky.  Drive failures are a simple fact of life in the world of computing, and the quickest way to lose everything you’ve amassed over the years – photos, music, e-mail, documents, etc. – is to have no backup when it happens.

You’re correct in thinking that you don’t need to back up your entire hard drive.  Windows, and any software you have installed can easily be re-installed in the event of a drive failure, assuming you’ve been responsible with the original install discs, and any registration codes.  That leaves only your data that needs to be backed up.  How and where that occurs is a completely personal choice.  The main factor to consider is the amount of data you need to archive.

The $100 figure you mentioned seems a little arbitrary to me.  I understand your desire to keep the spending under control, but unless you’ve done some research and have an idea of the cost of various storage media, you’re simply plucking numbers out of the air.  In reality, I think your number is actually high for a simple backup solution.

First, let me say that I don’t know of anything in any version of Windows 10 that limits you to one drive.  If you choose a second hard drive as your solution, Windows won’t care.  However, your PC does need to have room available for the new drive, otherwise you should choose an external USB drive.  The problem I have with this solution is that you are backing up to another media that is guaranteed to fail at some point in the future.

My suggestion is to head into the cloud for your solution.  While you could go with a full-on paid backup solution, there are options available that don’t cost anything at all.  Google for example, provides 15 gigabytes of online storage for free with a Google account.  You can use back-up to it using Google drive, and they even provide synchronization tools that will automatically back-up files that are added or that change.  If you need to go beyond the 15 gig limit, you can purchase another 100 gigs for about $20 per year.  I really like cloud storage solutions, because not only to they eliminate the possibility of data loss through hard drive failure, but they also add the capability to share files among your devices, including your tablets and smart phones.

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 Q: Note for folks in the Florida Panhandle interested in Linux: there is a Northwest Florida Linux User Group (NWFLUG) with a website at https://nwflug.org. We meet bimonthly on the first Monday of Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, and Dec. On the third Monday of every month, we offer (by appointment only), help with installation or other issues with Linux. BTW, your new website is great! Can you tell us a little about how you got it?

 – Tom B.
Niceville, Florida

A:  There you have it, Geeks!  For anyone interested in learning about Linux (a well-established operating system for PCs, that has been around since 1991, and is NOT owned or maintained my Microsoft), you have a tacit invitation to Northwest Florida’s local Linux User Group.  For readers in other areas, check with Google for groups in your area.

Tom, you may have discovered my website only recently, but it’s not exactly new.  ItsGeekToMe.co (not .com) first went online way back in early 2015.  It’s mostly an online column archive, but it also has the ability for you, my readers, to post comments on each article, and through that, interact with your fellow readers.  I’ve long wanted to expand the site, but couldn’t justify the trouble and expense from the existing traffic.  As for how I got it, I bought a domain name and web space from a domain registrar that also happens to offer site hosting.  The site is implemented using the WordPress content management system.

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