Backups For 30 Cents Per Gig!

Hi Fred, I am getting concerned that the data accumulated on my PC may be at risk if I don’t find a way to back it up. If I’m not mistaken, most of your advice re backups assumes that a user has a built-in ZIP or CD-R drive.

What advice can you offer someone like myself who doesn’t have these backup drives and who only has access to a 1.4 MB floppy drive as a backup tool. Is it possible to rent an external backup system or should I simply invest in the purchase of a CD-R drive?

Perhaps there are other readers out there who share my situation and could also benefit from your suggestions. Sincerely, Greg Rajewski (a very satisfied Plus! reader)

A lot of users hesitate about backups because they assume they’ll need to invest hundreds of dollars to set something up. In reality, backups are much, much  cheaper than most people think. (Mine cost me 20 cents a day.)

But before we get to the costs, ask yourself one question, as a  very simple, informal cost/benefit analysis:

"What would it cost, in direct expense and in time, to recreate all my data, files, settings, etc., from scratch?"

In other words, ballpark the absolute, rock-bottom minimum value of the data on your system simply by estimating how long it would take to get the stuff you need back to an acceptable condition, restoring or recreating it if you lost the contents of your hard drive. Then, multiply that amount of time by whatever your time is worth.

Even at minimum wage, and even if the value of your files and data is zero (which is almost never the case), fully restoring your system just ONCE, ever, in its life will usually more than offset the purchase cost of a basic CDR drive, just in time-savings alone.

And it’s odds-on that the value of your files and data is way more than $0. Some of your files may have intrinsic monetary value— tax or banking or business records, for example. Other files and data have a value represented by the effort and time it took to create them. For example, how much time have you invested in setting up your system, getting it right, downloading patches, installing software, etc.? Still other files may have value that’s hard to quantify— special photos, music, lists of favorite sites, etc. But there is still a value there, even if it’s hard to pin down.

In fact, when you add it all up, the true, full value of the stuff on your hard drive is probably worth hundreds, thousands or— no, I’m not kidding— tens of thousands of dollars.

Add it up: If your answer, either in direct cost or in time spent, is that your data and setup is worth more than a mere $25 or so, then go out and buy an inexpensive CDR drive right now! That’s all they cost, if you catch a sale; and even off-sale, you can almost always get a new CDR for less than $50.

That’s all it takes— a basic $25-50 CDR drive and some bulk-purchased blank CDs, and you’re on your way to total data safety. This way, your actual backup costs will run in the vicinity of 3 cents per hundred megs.; or 30 cents per gig. I create a full image backup of my 8GB primary partition several times a week, for example: It fits (compressed) on 4 generic blank CDs that cost me a total of 80 cents.

Think of it: 80 cents for 100%, rock-solid, total data security. Is there any reason *not* to make backups?

Examples of inexpensive CDRs:

less than $50:

Many, many other cheap CDR drives: or

Bulk CDs (less than 20 cents each): or or

FREE easy backup methods for all the above:

Get started now: When the day comes that you need your backups— and it will— I guarantee you’ll consider your investment some of the best money you’ve ever spent!

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.