It’s not enough just to drag your vital files onto a flash drive or burn them to a DVD-R from time to time. While your individual documents, photos, video, and music files are the most important things on your computer, you need to ask, What would happen if my hard drive stopped spinning tomorrow?
If you don’t have a full system backup image, the consequences of a complete hard drive failure can be devastating. Replacing your burnt out hard drive with a new one is no big deal—you can score a 5,400-rpm drive online for less than $70—but putting your software and apps back on takes a bit more work.
The right way to back up is to create a complete image of your hard drive that can be restored to a brand new drive within minutes. With free or inexpensive software and an external hard drive to store it on, you can create a perfect copy of everything on your hard drive from the Windows operating system to the programs, data, and settings. If you’re hard drive fails physically or it just gets some kind of horrible software error like a virus, you can turn back the clock to this image in no time.
Many strong disk-imaging programs are on the market. We'll show you how to create the backup using the no-cost Macrium Reflect Free, which you can download here. Install the software to get started.