We have talked in previous blogs a little bit about the importance of backing up your computer so that you don’t lose precious data. Today we are going to be talking about the best way to back up your computer.
We use our computers and smart phones for a large variety of reasons. Sometimes we have a computer for business use, sometimes it’s for personal use, and sometimes it is both. Our computers are a large part of our day to day activity. Many of us that use our computers for personal use have sensitive data on them. This can include photos and videos, homework, research, presentations, or just random saved data we don’t want to lose. The downside is that everyone loses data at some point in their lives. Sometimes hard drives fail, sometimes we drop our laptops and break them, and sometimes we get a virus and have to completely wipe our computers. These are just a few reasons why we need to be backing up our computers regularly.
So, you know the importance behind backing up out computers, but how exactly do you do that? Backing up your computer doesn’t have to be hard or confusing. Do you have to back up EVERYTHING?
This is probably obvious, but needs to be said nonetheless. Backing up your personal data is the most important part. Things like operating systems and apps or programs can be downloaded or reinstalled if your system fails, but your personal data will be lost forever.
Personal data such as photos, documents, videos, and other items you value and would miss if erased need to be backed up regularly.
Settings, operating system, programs and the like do not HAVE to be backed up, however they can be if you want to. It can certainly make a reinstalling process easier.
Now, let’s talk methods.
There are a few ways that you can back up your data. Ultimately you have to decide what works best for you and your needs. We will discuss a few of the methods and the thoughts behind them.
1) Back up to an external hard drive
An external hard drive is just that, a storage device outside of your computer. It connects via USB and you can store your data to it. Nowadays storage space is very inexpensive compared to what it used to be. You connect your external hard drive to your device and use the backup tool to back up your data. It is best to do this every time you have new data you want backed up.
Pros to this method: storage is cheap and it’s quick and easy
Cons to this method: the external hard drive can get lost, stolen, broken
2) Back up over the internet
There are a variety of options for this and if this is the method you choose I encourage you to do some research on the service you would like to use. These programs run in the background of your PC or Mac and automatically back up your files to their web storage. If something happens that your hard drive crashes or you are in need to accessing that data again you can restore them.
Pros to this method: Backing up over the internet protects your data from getting lost, stolen, any type of physical damage that could occur (house fire, flooding, etc), hard drive crashes and everything in between.
Cons to this method: The process can take quite a bit longer than an external hard drive and most services cost money
3) Cloud storage service
Most of us have heard of “the cloud” or cloud storage. For most people this is enough for our personal data storage needs. This method allows you to store your data in services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and other similar cloud storage services.
Pros to this method: In many cases these services are free. They are also easy and fast.
Cons to this method: It isn’t always free. Most services put a cap on how much you can store for free so if you have a lot of photos, documents, videos, etc, you may have to end up paying for service.
So, with that said, what backup method is best? Trick question. The BEST method is to use multiple methods. No one method is 100% secure and free of data loss happening. Choose two or all three methods to back up your data. It sounds time consuming and annoying, but I assure you, it is worth the time and effort to not be at a loss when you are in need of recovering that data.