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Question from Alan F.: Hi Rick. I have a question for you.
I have a Gateway desktop PC that’s running Windows 7. I upgraded this machine to USB 3.0 by adding a USB 3.0 expansion card like you recommend here.
The only thing I use this particular computer for is writing blog posts in Microsoft Word before uploading them to my WordPress blogs. That’s the ONLY thing I use this PC for.
I plan to turn my blog posts into a series of books some day so I want to keep the posts stored on my hard drive in MS Word format. Right now the 7 folders containing the posts and their associated images add up to a grand total of a little over 22 Gigabytes.
My question is do you see anything wrong with using a 64 GB USB thumb drive to hold backup copies of these 7 folders? I don’t need to back up anything else, just the Word files and images.
I bought the USB 3.0 card because I need really fast data transfer speeds when backing up to the thumb drive and I’d hate to think I’ve wasted that money.
A buddy of mine says thumb drives aren’t reliable enough to use for backup storage. What’s your opinion about that?
Rick’s answer: Alan, I’m afraid your friend is right about USB flash drives being unreliable, and if there’s one thing you want in a back-up medium it’s reliability.
Truth be told, USB flash drives can be quite finicky and prone to incurring data corruption. That makes them a poor choice for a backup medium.
I have to admit that in your case the convenience of using a thumb drive for fast, efficient archiving does make it sound appealing.
If you decide to go that route there are a couple of steps you can take that can lessen the risk to almost zero:
1 – Don’t trust your precious files and life’s work to a single backup drive. Get yourself at least three USB flash drives and copy your important files every one of them.
Luckily, 64GB thumb drives (and even larger ones) are dirt cheap these days, so be sure to use several of them to store your backups!
After you’ve made your backups it would be wise to keep at least one of the backup drives stored away in a fireproof lockbox.
2 – Add an extra level of redundancy to your backup plan by also storing copies of your backed-up files in the cloud.
There are several ways to go about this but the simplest way is to simply back up your files to Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Carbonite or some other dependable online backup/file storage service.
Bottom line: You CAN safely use thumb drives to back up critical files but ONLY if you keep several redundant copies of the files stored on different backup media.
And finally, a quick word about Windows 7…
You mentioned that you’re still using Windows 7 on your Gateway.
Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7 with security updates. That means it’s no longer safe to use Windows 7 on any PC that’s connected to the Internet. Just sayin’.
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