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Are you backing up your data?

Backup your data

The data stored on your personal computer, phone or tablet can be lost without any warning at all. For most of us, personal data includes important documents, sentimental files such as family photos and videos, and contact information. No matter how careful you are, disasters can happen. When it comes to disasters such as hardware failure, breakage, loss, theft or malware infection – recovering your data can be expensive or impossible. This is why you need to ensure you backup your data and restore it in case of emergency!

Regularly backup your data

The more regularly you backup your important and valuable files, the better. You can even organise a backup service that includes the option to automatically schedule backups, so you can have them run daily or weekly without you having to remember. Be sure to run your backups performed shortly after completing a virus scan.

What should I backup?

You want to backup the files that are important to you. This may include work files, study documents or assignments, resumes or personal documents, photos and videos, or your music. You may also want to consider tools that make your day-to-day tasks easier such as note programs on your computer, your web browser bookmarks, contacts databases, and files stored on your desktop.

Backup your data correctly

In its simplest form, a backup is a copy of your important files that you keep in case something happens to your original. There are lots of ways you can backup, but the simplest is to copy files to another format, like a CD, DVD, USB device, or external hard drive.

To backup effectively, utilise the 3-2-1 backup strategy, also called the “rule of three”. This is the best method for backing up. In practice, you could have one copy on your laptop, one on an external drive, and a third copy on an online cloud backup system. Then you’ve got a local backup handy if you need to restore something quickly. Plus, if something really bad happens—like a fire, theft, or flood—you’ve still got another copy offsite in the cloud backup. If you can’t do both, pick an offsite backup so you’re covered in a worst-case scenario. It is important to note that the following are not counted as a backup: copying files to another folder on the same computer, copying a file somewhere else then deleting the original to save space, and online storage and sharing tools such as Dropbox.

Use an external hard drive

For your local backup, you’ll need an external hard drive that’s as big as the internal drive in your computer. If you can afford it, try to get one that’s 2–4 times that size so you have room for the future. It is recommended that you use encryption to protect your files on the external hard drive if the option is available, and store the drive in another physical location, such as at work or a friend or family member’s home.

Cloud based backup systems are the easiest option – you just need to select the one that suits your needs. It will cost you a monthly or annual fee but these services are the ones that will automatically run backups for you and save them on your connected device.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • For Mac OS users, there’s Apple’s built-in Time Machine feature to automatically back up all of your files, including apps, music, photos, email, documents and system files. Time Machine also lets you go back and get earlier copies of files if you need to
  • If you’re using Windows 10, you can take advantage of the built-in Windows Backup to automatically backup everything in your user folder. For Windows 7 and 8 users, you can learn how to back up your PC here.

Keep your files in the cloud

An online cloud storage option will allow you to access your files from any device and in any location, as long as you have access to the internet. For your online cloud backup, you’ll come across many options that are free for smaller amounts of storage. Larger storage may be available for an additional fee. It is recommended that you choose a service that uses encryption to protect your files, and provides two-factor authentication or verification for access to your files (especially highly sensitive documents). How do they work? These services create a synchronised copy of your files to your cloud account when you save them in a specific location on your computer or device.

Don’t forget your devices

When it comes to backing up, don’t forget the devices you carry with you every day – your phones and tablets!

  • If you have an iPhone, you can backup to iCloud, and it’s a good idea to occasionally backup to iTunes on your computer, too (this way, your computer’s backups will also backup your phone).
  • Android users can use Google Sync to back up, and again it’s worth occasionally connecting your phone to your computer and copying files over.

Check your backups

Even if you already backup regularly, don’t forget to check and test your backups to make sure the files are still accessible and up to date with all of your required documents and data, should you need to restore your files.

Freshen up your devices

While you’re backing up, why not take the opportunity to clean out your computer and data and keep it sparkling clean. You can check out our article ‘Freshen up and clean out your computer’ for some tips and tricks.

Do you have any handy tips or tools for backing up your data? Share them with us below.

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