It’s important to back up your personal data regularly so it’s safe just in case the worst happens.
As you use your computers, phones, and tablets, you’ll start to accumulate a lot of data on the internal storage. Whether its music, lists and notes, contact information, important documents, or those photos from your once-in-a-lifetime holiday – losing it would be awful. We all like to think we’re careful and it’ll never happen to us, but the truth is no matter how careful you are, you never know when your phone will drop out of your pocket and break, your iPad will be lost or stolen, you accidentally open an email containing a virus, or that cup of coffee decides to just tip itself over the laptop keyboard.
A backup is a copy of your important files that you keep in case something happens to the original on your hardware. The simplest way to back up your data is to copy files to another format, like a CD, DVD, USB device, or external hard drive. However, some people prefer to use online “cloud” services.
When it comes to backing up, keep in mind that any of the following do NOT count as an effective backup solution:
You may have heard of the 3-2-1 backup strategy, or the “rule of three”. When backing up your data this is the best structure to follow.
THREE copies of the data
ONE copy is kept offsite
Ideally you should aim to have one copy on your laptop, a second on an external drive, and a third copy on an online cloud system. This means that you’ll have a backup handy if you need to restore something quickly and if there’s a disaster like a fire, theft, or flood, you’ve still got another copy offsite and ready to go.
When backing up aim to keep one copy on a cloud service and one copy on a hard drive or USB. Ideally you want to keep this second copy away from the computer area so it’s not easy to grab in the case of a break in. To do this, you’ll need an external hard drive that’s as big as the internal drive in your computer or if you can afford it, try to get one that’s 2–4 times that size.
On Windows devices you’ll have access to the built-in Windows Backup to automatically backup everything in your user folder. For Mac users Apple’s built-in Time Machine feature will automatically backup your files.
The easiest way to do an offsite backup is through a cloud based backup system. To help you choose between each platform, check out this PCMag comparison article. These services backup your files to their servers over your broadband for an affordable monthly (or annual) fee. Some services also have tools to automate your local backups or offer free services but the storage space is often very limited.
If you have an iPhone, you can backup to iCloud. You should also backup to iTunes on your computer – 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.
Once you’ve got all you data backed up, get into the habit of backing up new files regularly. Even if it’s only on a monthly or even quarterly basis, it’s a small amount of effort for a lot of relief should something happen to your data down the track!
Do you have tip for backing up your files? Share it with us in the comments.