Backing up your data is one of the smartest things you can do as a tech user. You might not have thousands of business files and important documents but often times the things we would miss most if we lost them aren’t financially important but have sentimental value. Do you have pictures or videos of your family on a laptop, computer or other devices? What would you do if it got stolen, or the hard drive failed?
Another potential threat is ransomware, a type of malware attack where thieves will hold your data hostage and demand money to give it back. If you’re backed up then these types of attacks will be virtually useless against you. Backing things up should become like second nature to us all, it should be something we just do.
Backing things up isn’t just a one-way process, there are many different ways to do it so it’s easy to find one to suit your needs. However, it’s definitely recommended that if you’re backing up you use at least two different methods. That way if one were to fail for whatever reason, you have a back up to the backup. Now let’s go over some of the various ways you can back up what’s important to you!
External Hard Drive
So in your computer or laptop, you’ll have what’s called a Hard Drive, also known as a Hard Disk or HDD. A Hard Drive is the physical component within your computer where the computer stores most of its data. If you’ve ever saved a photograph or document, a Hard Drive is likely where it’s kept. Now an external Hard Drive is exactly what it says it is, a Hard Drive just like the one inside your computer except this one is outside of it. You can plug it into your computer using the USB port, transfer the data over and then unplug it and store it for safekeeping.
The great thing about an external Hard Drive is that they can hold a huge amount of data for a relatively low cost, a 1 terabyte (that’s the unit of measurement used when it comes to storing data) Hard Drive will set you back around £40-50. For the record, 1 Terabyte is enough to store around two million photos or hundreds of HD movies! So it’s likely going to be enough to store anything the average person would ever need. Also being offline unlike the cloud it’s impossible for it to get hacked into as long as it’s unplugged.
Next up we’ve got the humble USB stick, these little things are very similar to an External Hard Drive, the main difference being that they are a lot smaller. In fact, these things are so small you can quite easily put one on a key ring to carry around with you! Portability is a major selling point for these things but of course, one downside of being so tiny is that they are a lot easier to lose, they also, of course, can’t hold as much information as a Hard Drive can.
Another great thing about USB sticks is how incredibly cheap they are. Nowadays you can buy a 16 Gigabyte USB stick for under a fiver! (16 Gigabytes is about 64 times less storage capacity than a 1 Terabyte Hard Drive just for reference). But they go all the way up to 256 Gigabyte (A quarter of the size of that 1 Terabyte Hard Drive) for about £30-40.
A USB stick in my opinion is the simplest and best method for the majority of people who are just looking to keep a few photos or files safe. Their price means you can easily buy a pack of them so the issue of multiple backups is easily sorted with these. If you do use multiple backups make sure you keep them in separate locations.
What on earth is “The Cloud” you may be asking, don’t worry it’s not that complicated, let’s break it down. The Cloud is just a way of storing information online. Companies will buy up huge warehouses filled with servers which keep this data on your behalf. You can then access it from anywhere that you have an internet connection.
The benefits to this are numerous, for a start many companies will offer a certain amount of cloud storage completely free! Google for example offers 15 Gigabytes of cloud storage free on Google Drive (https://www.google.co.uk/drive/), that’s almost as much as one USB stick, but if you want more you’ll have to pay.
Of course, there are some drawbacks, for a start as we said before you’ll need an internet connection in order to access your data. You also don’t have any control over the security of it and while it’s rare that cloud services offered by large reputable companies are hacked into, it does happen. My personal recommendation would be to use cloud storage as your secondary back up, in addition to a physical back up.
DVD’s or CD’s
They might be going a bit out of fashion now but if you’ve got some old re-writable DVD’s or CD’s laying around then this could be a quick and free option for you to store some music or home videos on. It also makes it easier to watch them, just pop one in any DVD player and Bob’s your uncle, they are also very easy to store.
Of course, the big problem with these is that they really can’t hold much information and they are becoming outdated tech. Many laptops and computers nowadays don’t even have a disk tray to put a CD in.
Now this may seem a little silly to those of you who are more tech-savvy, but if you’re having some trouble grasping things like cloud storage or external Hard Drives then this could be one easy solution and hey, if it works, it works.
Of course, you are very limited in what you can back up using a printer, it’s really only going to be text information and maybe photographs. It could get pretty difficult to manage a large amount of information so maybe if you just have a few text files you want to keep backed up for whatever reason and you are a bit wary of some of the more technical stuff, this could be the way for you. One advantage of printing out information is that it’s completely impossible for hackers to steal it.
Now we’ve given you five different ways to back up your data and keep it safe, it’s strongly recommended that you pick at least two so you have that double protection. Whatever you choose just make sure you do it and that you keep it updated. Many people have lost precious memories or important work documents due to an overly relaxed attitude to backing up, always saying “oh I’ll just do it tomorrow” well what if something goes wrong today? Thanks for reading and get backing up!