No matter how often we bang on about it, there will always be some people who neglect to back up their valuable data. But it’s an important task, so we’ll repeat our advice: fail to back up, and you’ll risk losing everything stored on your PC.

You might think your daily computing activities are relatively ‘safe’, and have perhaps never even had a virus on your machine; you may believe it will never happen to you. But data loss is often caused by events outside of your control. See Security Advisor.

Your PC could be stolen, for example, or suffer fire damage. A simple power surge could take it to an early grave. Hard-drive failure is another what if, and data recovery won’t always be possible.

Whether your computer is primarily used for work or leisure, the results of data loss can be catastrophic.

Don’t keep putting off to another day the proper safeguarding of your data. Scheduling backups to occur automatically requires only a little thought and energy.

If nothing else, you could copy to an external hard drive all your irreplaceable photos and important documents. Although this won’t eliminate the potential for local damage or theft, it will rule out data loss in the event of total hard-drive failure. Offsite backup is a better choice.
Over the following pages, we explain how to set up and use CrashPlan, a cloud-based storage service with a cross-platform desktop client.

CrashPlan works with Windows, Mac and Linux, while Android, iOS and Windows Phone support is coming later this year. You can download a 30-day free trial from Download Crashplan.

Get started with Crashplan

Step 1. Head to to take a look at the options on offer. For the purposes of our workshop, we downloaded the 30-day trial. Click ‘Download Free 30 Day Trial’, then click the correct link for your operating system. We chose ‘Download for Windows’. Opt to save the downloaded file to your machine. See Crashplan review.

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Step 2. Run the setup file and follow the prompts to install and configure CrashPlan. The setup wizard will request that you create an account by entering a username (a valid email address) and a password. Keep a note of your login credentials, since you will need them to access the service. See Crashplan Pro review.

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Step 3. CrashPlan will begin backing up your data as per its default settings following the completion of your account. This can take some time, depending on how much data is installed on your computer. CrashPlan will inform you when the process is complete via its simple, easy-to-navigate interface. Crashplan wins Best Utility 2011.

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Step 4. A number of configurable settings allow you to ensure CrashPlan is covering your backup needs effectively. Click Settings, then choose the General tab. From here you can specify when CrashPlan runs its backup duties; you can also give your PC a meaningful name – useful if you have more than one machine.

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