Backing Up Your Data: How To Do It Properly
Why do you need to back up your data files?
The simple explanation is that you need fail-safes in place, just in case something goes wrong or something bad happens. Storing all of your data in one location is a recipe for disaster!
Let's say you keep all of your data on a hard drive that's attached to your PC. What happens if that PC becomes corrupted with a virus or suffers the blue screen of death? There's a chance that the hard drive itself might also be corrupted, meaning all the data on it is lost forever. Sure, you might get lucky, and you can remove the hard drive and attach it to another PC, recovering the data.
But, there's always a risk of losing everything when something is only stored in one place. This brings us to the main topic of discussion, how do you back your data up properly? There are right and wrong ways of doing this – and you'll be surprised at how many people choose the wrong way.
So, here's what you need to do:
Back your data up to another physical storage device
We're calling any storage device that you can pick up and hold as a physical storage device. This includes the following:
- Hard drives
- Memory sticks
It is always a good idea to back up your data onto a physical device that you can detach from a computer and carry around with you. Why? Because it negates the issue of your PC breaking or getting infected, destroying all the data on the internal hard drive/SSD. In that situation, you've got copies of your data on these other devices.
However, there's a vital step in this process that many people neglect. What happens if your device goes missing or is stolen? Aside from potentially losing your data, you may accidentally leak important information to anyone that plugs the device in and looks at what's on it. To prevent this, you must learn to encrypt your external storage device.
Essentially, this will allow you to protect the device with a password, meaning nobody can access the files unless they know the code. It stops your data from falling into the wrong hands!
Back your data up to the cloud
Clearly, backing your data up to a physical device is still not the best way to keep everything protected. As mentioned above, what happens if you lose this device or it gets stolen? Your encryption will protect the data from being seen or stolen, but it doesn't stop the fact that you might lose it all.
Plus, computer viruses might not affect the device, but they also might. If you have an external device plugged in while your PC is infected, there's every chance that this device can also suffer. Or, there's the obvious problem of it simply breaking, meaning you're unable to access the data on it.
Consequently, you need a fail-safe for your fail-safe. The best approach is to find a cloud storage provider to back everything up. There are plenty of options out there, but Dropbox is probably the most popular. Here, you have access to terabytes of cloud data storage to use as you please. It's all encrypted, so there are passwords protecting your data files. What's more, you can usually configure your PC to automatically send things to your cloud data storage provider.
In essence, this means that everything gets backed up in the background, while you get on with your work. You can also choose different plans depending on your needs. If you are using this for personal use, you can pick and choose how much storage you want. For businesses, you usually get more storage and more security features.
Why is the cloud so important for backing up data?
Simply put, the cloud is not a physical thing that someone can touch or take. Your data will never be lost or stolen because it exists online. It means that you have nothing to worry about when PCs or devices break, or if data gets wiped from them. You've got access to everything in the cloud – and you can use your data files from any device with an internet connection.
Back your cloud data up as well
Did you think we were finished? Nope, there's one more step to really secure your data.
Granted, services like Dropbox are highly unlikely to suffer from any issues. It's very rare that you lose data when it is stored in the cloud. However, to be sure, you could consider exporting your files from Dropbox to BigQuery as well. This is another cloud storage service, though it is slightly different. In truth, you could use any two names here; you can export your data from OneDrive to Google Drive and it will have the same effect.
Basically, you are creating yet another backup copy of your data. It makes it much harder for you to ever lose anything if you have so many fail-safes in place.
Let's say your PC breaks down, what happens now? Okay, you have data backed up to a hard drive, but it's broken or lost – now what? Don't worry, you've backed everything up to the cloud, so you've got access to everything. Wait a second, your cloud storage provider has gone down or suffered a cyberattack and you have no access to your data. What on earth can you do now?! Ah, there's no need to worry as you've backed up your backup into another cloud provider. So, your data is safe and ready for you to access.
As you can probably tell, the chances of all of these things happening or going wrong are very minimal. But, that's the whole point. The more backups you have, the fewer opportunities there are for you to lose your data. Simply backing everything up once will not do the trick, and that's where many people fail.
If you've only got one backup system in place, you need to add more to keep your data as secure as possible!