Despite the fact that we’re growing more dependent on technology when it comes to accomplishing everyday tasks, we forget just how vulnerable the information stored on computers can be. We often aren’t sure which rules to follow when it comes to keeping our digital information safe, and secure.
Natural disaster, computer loss, theft, and even accidental deletion are only a few of the ways that a business or individual can lose essential data, and the only way to prepare for such a disaster is to have a reliable backup strategy in place. There are a number of different ways to back up your computer, and using multiple steps can help to minimize the risk of losing valuable files. In fact, this is why many experts recommend a 1-2-3 solution to backups:
- Always store at least 1 copy offsite (away from the threat of natural disasters or theft).
- Always use at least 2 different types of media for backing up files, such as one backup on a hard drive, and one to the cloud.
- Always keep at least 3 copies of any important files – for example, this might include the original file on the computer, a copy on a hard drive, and a third copy that’s been backed up online.
Following are the steps on how to safely and effectively backup your important data.
Step 1: Start Simple with a Hard Drive
One of the simplest and most effective ways to backup files is to copy them onto an external hard drive. This process works regardless of whether you have a Mac or Windows computer, but it does mean you’ll need to purchase an external drive, and perhaps even do some research on which product is best for your storage needs.
Remember that an external drive is subject to the same risks as a computer, including theft, fire, and accidental damage. While you can endeavor to keep your hard drive in a secure location – like a fireproof safe – it’s also important to have multiple backups just in case the worst should happen. At the same time, some people often find the process of saving important files to a hard drive to be somewhat tedious, and forget to keep on top of their backup schedule. This is one of the many reasons why automatic backup solutions are so popular.
Step 2: Use Automatic Backup Solutions
Although copying folders and files into an external hard drive is easy, it’s also easy to forget about. Because you never know when disaster will strike, it’s important to back files up to ensure you always have a copy of the latest information. Most computers can simplify the process by automatically backing up certain files, or even an entire hard drive, according to a set schedule.
If you’re using a windows computer, you can utilize “Windows Backup” (Windows 7) or “File History” (Windows 8 and Windows 10) to create automatic copies for selected folders and files. You can also use the “Windows Backup” process to save a system image, which backs up the entire hard drive, including any installed applications.
When activated, the “Time Machine” function on Mac OS X will automatically create backups of your entire system hard drive, including applications and files. This means that if something goes wrong, you can restore your computer to an earlier date and pick up wherever you left off.
Keep in mind that regardless of whether you’re using Windows or Mac OS, backing up your entire hard drive could take a number of hours. This means it’s often best to start the process when you don’t need access to your computer — perhaps overnight. From there, you can schedule additional backups, and the process won’t take as long, because the drive is only copying the most recently added files.
Step 3: Access the Cloud
Finally, if you still need to diversify your backup solution further, then you can move beyond local programs and solutions and take advantage of cloud storage for keeping your files safe. For instance, you could place your most important files in a cloud folder such as Google Drive, or Dropbox, and they will back up online while synchronizing to other computers and devices.
The only problem is that these services aren’t foolproof. If you accidentally delete files from a folder, then they’re gone — there’s nothing you can do. What’s more, they’re not a great way to back up a large amount of data. If you want a more secure solution, you may need to purchase storage from an online backup service that protects your files for a monthly or annual fee.
There are various options available when it comes to backing up your files and folders, and it’s up to you to determine a solution that best fits your needs. However, most savvy tech users recommend using a diverse range of solutions to keep your data safe, keeping a copy in a safe location, and always having a plan B when disaster strikes.