OK, where were we? Ah, yes, that third way is far more labor intensive and makes far less sense than a cloud based backup plan.
If you came in in the middle of this conversation, scroll down or click here, to see the first part of the article.

The big upside to an external drive is the same as its greatest downside, it’s right there with your computer. On the upside, if your computer crashes, your data is already right there, you only have to plug it into a healthy computer and run the restore process. On the downside, if your computer is destroyed by some natural or unnatural phenomenon, most things nearby are also ruined. Or if your computer is stolen, (this actually happened to one of my clients!) your external drive will also be stolen. You may argue that you use a USB flash drive and keep it in a safer location and I’ll say that’s good, but they are portable and they suffer wear and tear, so there is a greater chance that they will be lost or damaged beyond repair. Enough said; you probably see the number of ways an external drive solution is not the best.

3a. Regardless, we press on with two ways to use your external drive to back up your data or your system. Actually, those are the two ways. You can use whatever backup program you like, or the one that came with your external drive, to complete a data only or a full system backup. The learning curve on this is pretty flat and you can figure it out in one session.

3b. another way you can get a full system backup is to use a disk image utility. I’ve been using a product by StorageCraft for several years now and it does a flawless job of creating an image of the entire drive. You can even use this image to completely restore a failed computer, with all programs and settings intact, on another computer, even if it is not the same make and model. This same backup and restore process can be used if you are installing a larger hard drive in the same system. If you are only moving data from an old computer to a new one, this image transfer will ensure that you have not left behind some obscure directory of data files essential to little things like email or contacts.

Yes, we could go on about all of the ups and downs of backup and restore processes here, but those are the three ways, including part 3, a and b!

Almost any technical person will agree that any kind of backup is better than none. There must be survey results available on how many tech people would agree that cloud backup is a better approach than on-site or external drive backup systems. However, there is always that security concern with the cloud. And, businesses that deal with sensitive information may have restrictive guidelines with data management that prevents the use of cloud-based systems. That’s material for another article.

Find a way to protect your stuff. Implement it immediately. That proverbial rainy day will come and you’ll be glad you brought an umbrella!