Protecting Your Data
Properly backing up your data is kind of like flossing your teeth. All the respective experts agree that it’s a crucial habit, but very few people are as diligent as they should be. There are countless ways that you can lose your data, including viruses, malware, theft and physical damage. However, the number of options for keeping your files safe can be daunting. Here’s how to assess your needs and match them with the right solution.
Consider Your Data
Ask yourself some questions to determine how your data fits within three criteria:
- Privacy: Is the data for your eyes only, or is it ok if a stranger sees it one day?
- Frequency: How often do your backups need to be updated to match your current files?
- Security: How vital is this information? If the backup fails, will you be able to live without it?
For example, if you have many family photos, and you take more every day, you’ll probably want a backup solution that updates every time you add a new photo. However, if a tech employee sees a picture of your wedding or some photos get deleted due to a server malfunction, it won’t be the end of your world.
On the other hand, suppose you keep track of your finances electronically. If all the relevant documents come in at the end of the month, you probably don’t need a solution that’s constantly checking for updates. However, it’s imperative that your information remains confidential and never gets deleted or lost.
Main Types of Backup Solutions
Generally, backup solutions can be sorted into three categories:
- Cloud Storage: A cloud storage service is a popular and cheap way to back up your data. Your files are stored remotely on a company’s servers. The specifics vary from provider to provider, but generally you can access your “cloud drive” from many devices and sometimes sync it to automatically back up certain folders. However, cloud storage is meant for backing up some, but not all, of your data. These services are also less secure than some other services in that your data may not be completely shielded from curious employees.
- Backup Service: Like cloud storage, backup services make copies of your files on remote servers. Unlike cloud storage, backup services are usually designed to keep a backup of your entire computer. They frequently offer a high level of privacy via encryption of which only you have the password. If you’re looking for a solution for small-business, it might be worth spending a little extra money for a backup service.
- DIY: If you demand absolute control over your data, you can always handle your own backups. Anything with intimate details you want to protect from the world, like a personal journal, belongs on an encrypted drive that you own. External hard drives are inexpensive and make backups easy. Check the reviews before you buy to make sure you get a reliable model; some hard drives are prone to failure after a year or two. Also, don’t forget to invest in a good antivirus! If you copy an infected file to your backup drive, it could compromise everything.
It’s important to keep at least one backup of your information. However, the best practice is to keep multiple backups just in case something goes wrong. Based on your needs, you should mix and match solutions to ensure you’ll always have peace of mind.