At the absolute minimum, the size of your backup drive should be equal to the amount of data you have. In fact, this is actually probably considered inadequate. You might think that because you have a 500GB internal drive then you’ll only need 500GB of space to back up onto, but that’s not strictly true. For example, if you expand your internal storage then you’ll need to buy another external drive to handle the backup. Or consider if you want to store old files that have been deleted from your main drive; you’ll need more than the 500GB in that case.
Having at least double the amount of storage is probably suitable, although it depends on your backup needs. For example, how far back you wish to archive the data and whether you keep different versions of the same file.
Nevertheless, you might find that your backup drive is being pushed for space and it’s time to clean it up. There are a number of different methods and tactics you can use to clean up and conserve space on your backup drive, so let’s take a look at some of them.
Full vs. incremental
Taking a full backup of your hard drive each time is highly inefficient. Not only will this slow down the process, but it’ll quickly eat away at your space. The majority of files on your computer are likely to go unchanged from one week to the next, so backing them up each and every time is unnecessary. Instead, you should set your backups to be incremental. This will mean that files will only be backed up once they have been altered in any way.
Clear extraneous files
It is important that you are aware what data is being backed up. For example, data such as the operating system or program files will probably not need backing up. Windows can be installed from disc and the programs can be redownloaded. By all means keep the personal files that these programs create, but you don’t need the extraneous data that isn’t specific to you. Remove these from your backup drive and make sure that your backup plan isn’t copying the entire drive.
Versions and history
A number of backup programs will let you customise how long you wish to keep delete that has been deleted or how many versions of a file to keep. If you’re running low on space then you should consider altering these values. If you deleted a file a year ago, do you still really need to have that on your backup drive? Change these to something that better suits and, if your software doesn’t automatically handle it, comb through the backup drive and remove old, clogged data.
Once the above tips have been taken into consideration, it might simply be easier to compress and encrypt (if not already done) all the data on the drive, move it elsewhere and start afresh. Combing through old data to create free space may be too much of a hassle and not time efficient, so consider just moving it and beginning a new term with your more competent backup plan.
Cleaning Up Your Backup Drive
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