What your cloud-based backup service isn’t backing up

One of the most-popular cloud services is automated backups. You subscribe to a service, install a program, and it automatically backs up your files.

Many people don’t realize these programs don’t backup all their files. They only back up the data files – which is a small percent of the files on your computer.

Your computers also have tens of thousands of files for the operating system (Windows or MacOS) and the programs you’ve installed, like Office and Quicken. Most cloud backup services do not backup these files, because there are so many of them, and they rarely change.

However, if you ever need to replace a computer, it could take a full day (or longer) to reinstall and reconfigure all your programs. That assumes you still have the installation disks or files, and you remember all the custom settings you’ve ever set.

To make disaster-recovery faster and easier, add a second level to your backup plan.

Create “clones” of your disk drives using a “disk imaging” program. These clones will have all the files on your computer – including the operating system and program files.

To create the clones, you need an external USB disk drive that is larger than your computer’s disk drive and an imaging program. Some popular imaging programs are: EaseUS Todo Backup, Paragon Backup & Recovery, and Acronis True Image.

Install the imaging program, plug in the USB disk drive, and create the clone on the USB drive. This usually takes around 30 to 60 minutes. Fortunately, you only need to do this step once every three to six months. I make a new clone after installing new software or when Windows has a large update (changing many of the operating system files).

Label the clone drive with the name of the computer and store it in a safe place. I recommend a safe deposit box. Don’t keep the clone drive next to your computer. If you lose your computer to a flood or fire, you don’t want to also lose its clone.

Now, if you ever need to replace a computer, get the clone drive from your safe deposit box, and copy the data from the clone to your new computer. Then, install the cloud-based backup software to recover your data files.

If you follow this process, you may be able to completely restore your computer in two or three hours, instead of a day or two.

For details on setting up a complete disaster-recovery plan for your computers, visit http://lillysoftwareconsulting.com/SBBDRP