Keep your data safe – before it’s too late
3… 2… 1! No, it’s not the countdown to 2019. It’s what experts say should be your computer backup strategy. Three copies of your data, on two different devices, with one stored off-site. Follow this system, and you’re unlikely to ever lose all your data, regardless of what problems befall you.
Many people, however, don’t backup at all. If you’re one of them, you probably don’t need to be told that you’re playing with fire. Hard drives crash, laptops can be lost or stolen, viruses and cyber crime can lock up your computer—just a few reasons why you need to back up your computer on a regular basis.
The Safety Dance
Unless you’re a computer-whiz, data backup probably seems intimidating. Flashdrives, hard drives, SSD. And what exactly is cloud storage? Actually, it’s not that complicated. There are basically 3 ways to back up data. For maximum security, choose 2 different ones (but use at least one!)
Buy an external hard drive. These devices range in price from about $50 to over $1,000, depending on capacity and other features. Most home PC users can get what they need for under $250. They generally connect to your computer via a USB port. You can perform the backup manually, but for greater reliability, look for one that will do automatic backups at a chosen time of day. If you travel and need to take your backup device with you, consider buying a SSD (solid state drive.) These cost more, but because they don’t rely on moving parts, they are less vulnerable to damage from bumps or drops. It’s important to note that an external hard drive is different from a flashdrive or thumbdrive (the tiny, key fob-sized devices that plug directly into a USB port.) These are not suitable for backing up data. They are easily corrupted and should be used only for temporary file storage and transport.
Subscribe to an internet backup service. Keeping a backup off-site is the only way to protect it from theft, fire, or natural disaster. The simplest way to do this is to back up over the internet. For a small monthly fee (usually about $5) you can subscribe a service that will store your data remotely. The program will run in the background when your PC is on, and will automatically create copies of your files. The data is encrypted for security and most services allow you to customize what is backed up. Several reputable companies offer this service. Find them by searching online and check reviews to see which one best meets your needs.
Upload to the Cloud. Though technically not a backup, if you have only a small amount of data to secure a cloud-based provider like Google Drive or Dropbox might serve your needs. Keeping your important photos, documents and other information in the cloud keeps it safe from theft and natural disasters. It also serves to sync content between multiple devices (if you use both a desktop and laptop, for instance.) Experts caution that cloud storage is not an effective way to back up the contents of an entire PC. You’ll quickly exceed the free storage limitations, and purchasing extra storage can be costly.
Any of these backup methods should be fairly simple to install and set up, for anyone with a basic knowledge of tech terms and knack for following instructions (or a teenager in the house.)
If you are among the technologically-challenged, however, consider hiring a service to set up your chosen backup method. Many tech stores offer assistance at an hourly or project-based rate. It’s money well-spent compared to the frustration and expense you’ll incur when your precious data is corrupted or lost.
It’s 2019. Computers store our memories in photos, videos, and irreplaceable data and documents. If you haven’t already, make a New Year’s resolution to make this the year you begin regularly backing up your precious data. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussions or opinions be construed as legal advice. Examples included in this document are for information purposes only; for specific coverage details consult your insurance policy. Contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.