Advancing technology is changing the way people do their computing increasing the need to backup your data. Mobile phones, phablets, tablets, netbooks, laptops all designed for portability are outstripping the home computer in usage . There is still a definite need for a full-sized computer, but data access is becoming more important across multiple devices and multiple operating systems.
Portability and connectivity is becoming expected, and demanded by consumers. The trouble is portable devices are far more easily damaged, stolen or misplaced. Leaving aside the security issues involved, loss of the information on those devices can wreak havoc with both business and personal lives.
Losing a portable device is bad enough, but really its the data on it that matters. Same with the home computer. Things can be replaced, the data cannot.
Try these regular occurrences: Sudden power failure, power surges – ever had the lights flicker, go out, and then come on again a moment later, brighter than normal? This can damage your computer. Then there are the viruses that can damage and wipe data. Ever been burgled? Had a fire?
Have you ever lost your mobile phone or dropped it into water (according to some reports somewhere between 15-20% of people admit to dropping their phone in the toilet). Literally thousands of mobile phones, tablets, USB drives and even laptops are left in taxis, trains and buses all over the world. How many people do you know who have accidentally dropped their mobile phone, or knocked a laptop off a desk. Tripping over a power cord is not uncommon. Spilling drinks on keyboards is a danger. Keyboards are only easily replaced when they are connected separately. Not so much when its the keyboard on your laptop.
Data is data. Doesn’t matter whether it’s an email, a document, that latest selfie, a saved game of Candy Crush, or a home movie. Bits and bytes stored as files. Back it up or lose it.
Thankfully, we’ve never lost data that we couldn’t recover through backups, apart from once. A backup using the inbuilt windows software wouldn’t restore. I had to use special recovery software. It took 3 days to get it all back. We’ve had PC’s fried through power surges (before using surge guards), failed hard drives, and a nasty new virus that trashed data on Sue’s computer. Sue lost a mobile phone.
Mobile phones and tablets can easily be backed up to a computer, laptop, or to the cloud, on a regular basis – most phones have some sort of backup or synchronisation software, and there are plenty of apps for both Apple and Android that will do the job. But after you backup your portable devices, don’t forget to back up your main computer as well, whether it be a desktop or laptop.
Windows comes with its own backup software which, while functional, doesn’t always get what you want saved. Especially if you save data to a non-standard location. But for those who leave everything at default it is fine. Just do yourself a favour and make a Windows Recovery Disk too. That way you can safely restore your backup no matter what happens.
Where to Backup Your Data To
So where to back up? A few years ago it would have been DVDs, which only costs a few cents per disk, and they are still an excellent option for long-term storage as long as they are stored properly. These days like most people I have far more data to store that would fit comfortable on a few disks, or even writable Blu-rays which are still expensive.
My current preference is for portable USB disc drives – they are getting cheaper all the time as technology improves, and storage costs decrease. They are not fool-proof, and they don’t last forever. but for under $100 you can get a drive big enough to store all your important data. If you can afford it, get two and alternate them. Then if one fails you still have the other. Often these drives come with a free version of backup or synchronization software which works well enough to copy across your important data.
Recommended Backup Software
A long trusted backup solution. It will back up your entire computer including your operating system, applications and data (not just files and folders) to an external hard drive. You can restore the full backup or only the parts you need.
This is what Sue uses for regular back up and synchronizing of her documents, photos and other data. Some folders she backs up daily, others less often, depending on how often she adds to them. She also uses it to easily sync data with her laptop so all her files are up to date on both her desktop and laptop machines.
There is a free version which is fine if you don’t have much to back up. Goodsync is available for Windows, Mac and as a portable version.
Cloud storage is where your data is stored on the internet and not your own computer.
My concerns about cloud storage revolve primarily about security and privacy. Identity theft, hacking, data mining, and even governmental monitoring are major concerns for many people. So data such as emails, bank account and credit card details stay off my mobile phone, and off the cloud.
Dropbox is still regarded as the best in terms of data allowance and price. For those without a huge amount of data it can be extremely cost-effective. The free option allows 2gb of storage. Invite others to join and you get more.
Have you ever lost important data and did you manage to get it back?