The Importance Of Backing Up
Nowadays we pretty much do everything on our computers. We stream music, we send messages to each other, we store our pictures, videos, and documents on them. Sometimes we run our businesses on them and sometimes we just save our precious memories on them. Whatever the reason, your data is valuable. It would be a terrible thing if one day it all just disappeared. The sad thing is, it happens to many people every day and for a variety of reasons and in each case it could have been prevented if only they had backed up their data to the cloud. Let's take a look at some of the ways data loss can happen on computers and why you should have both a local and online backup running at all times.
Causes of Data Loss
Now most of these issues are not too common anymore thanks to the fact that a lot of online services store all of your data in the cloud anyway but they still happen and can be disastrous if you are not prepared. Here are some just to name a few:
- A Hard Drive Has Gone Bad
- Accidental File Deletion
- Reloading/Upgrading Windows, Mac OS, or Linux
- Improper Shutdown of the Computer (Rare)
- The Computer is destroyed in a fire or is smashed
- Crypto Virus (Cryptowall, Cryptolocker, RMSLocker)
For a Hard Drive going bad, you can never predict when this will happen but those on my Daily Maintenance Plan will have their Hard Drives checked regularly to make sure their data is saved before they go bad to the point where their computer won't boot anymore. In the first four scenarios, there is a chance the data can be restored but there are no guarantees. In the case of a fire or accident that destroys the computer there might be less hope of recovering the data depending on the extent of the damage. In the case of a Crypto Virus like Cryptowall, your data might be inaccessible forever unless you pay a $300 ransom, and even then you might still not get your data back. I touched on Cryptowall/Cryptolocker in a previous post that includes a slide show presentation I did on computer security. Go check that out if you haven't already. I may end up writing a more detailed post about Cryptowall and it's ilk in the future but the main thing is that it's pure data and you will most likely lose all of your data. Bottom line, all of these things can cripple or destroy a business or make a family lose all of their important files.
How To Properly Backup Your Computer
The best way to backup that is recommended by most of us in the IT industry is the 3-2-1 Backup method. That's 3 backup copies of all of your data, 2 of them are local backups on different medias and 1 copy is stored in the cloud. For example, you can have one of your backups on CD or DVD for stuff you want to preserve for a long time, a backup on a USB Hard Drive for short term storage, and a backup on an online backup service such as SpiderOak or CrashPlan.
Please Note: A File Syncing service such as Dropbox, oneDrive, or Google Drive do not count as backups and will not protect your computer from the Cryptowall viruses but they may protect you from hard drive issues as the data is stored in the cloud anyway.
My personal recommendation is to at least have a local backup and a online backup setup. At the bare minimum, you should at least have an online backup at the ready as this will ensure that you are protected from the Crypto viruses. The local backups will however allow you to recover from a failed hard drive or a reinstall of your operating system much faster than having to download all of your data from the cloud.
Why Most People Don't Backup
Unfortunately, most people don't backup their computers because they either don't think about it or don't want to spend the money for it. Well with this post I have fixed both issues because I am spreading the awareness of backing up and it may help to know that backing up your computer is actually not terribly expensive. A modest External Hard Drive that can store multiple copies of your data (at least for the average user) can cost $100 or less. Most cloud backup services cost about $5-$15 per month and apps like CrashPlan even allow you to avoid paying for storage by giving you local hard drive backups and doing peer to peer backups. That means you can backup your data on a friend's computer that also runs CrashPlan.
If privacy is a concern for online and peer to peer backups, don't worry. All of these services use extremely strong encryption which means no one can so much as read your files without your account password. In fact the encryption is so strong on most of these services (especially Spider Oak and CrashPlan) that if it were ever to become possible to crack the encryption (something that's a long way off), then all of the world's banking would already be compromised. Just make sure that you use a secure password of at least 8 characters and you can remember it. Other than that, there really is no excuse to not backup your data somehow.
Whether you buy an external hard drive to backup your files locally, use an online backup service, CrashPlan's Peer To Peer backup, or any combination of the three, you have to think of it as insurance for your valuables. You value your files, pictures, and other data on your computer very much and they would be devastating to most people if they were lost. Please at least think about what you want to do for a backup solution. I am available to help you out as well. Check out the buttons below for different backup resources and to contact me for a consultation to discuss your options.