Backing up your data is probably one of the most important things you can do if you own a computer. Yet so many people never back up their data, and the ones who do may not do it consistently. Sometimes, we just have too much on our plates to concern ourselves with another routine, sometimes we’re just lazy, but other times, we just don’t know where to start. Sometimes it takes a major loss of valuable data to kick a person into the mindset that data backups may even be necessary. In fact, some people will lose everything and still not take future precautions. Even worse is when some people fall into the mindset of “It couldn’t happen to me!” Whatever the reason is, it’s important to know that there are backup solutions meant to fit in with busy schedules, many of which require no effort on your part.
The Manual Backup:
This method of backup is usually the easiest to do, but also requires the most discipline to do regularly, thus making it (potentially) the least reliable. Simply dragging and dropping (or copying and pasting) files and folders from a Mac or PC to a second location can do the trick. Backup locations can vary by reliability and cost, from a simple flash drive to a cloud storage subscription, but the end result is the same: if your computer dies on you, the information will be safe elsewhere, as long as the backup is recent. This method has plenty of pitfalls in exchange for its simplicity – questions such as “What exactly are you backing up?”, “How often?” and “To where?” can certainly affect how effective this solution may be. Another question one might ask themselves when exploring data backup options is “Will I be diligent enough to routinely back-up my data?” It’s up to the user to decide whether they have the discipline to keep up with this method of data backup. If you have very specific files that you want to keep safe and you have the time to devote to creating a manual backup, this method may be the right one for you.
The Automatic Local Backup:
There are many programs out there that can back up a computer either on demand, constantly, or on a set schedule. Some of them, such as Apple’s Time Machine or Microsoft’s File History, are even built right in to your computer. Features aside, the requirements of such programs are typically the same across both Mac and PC. Typically, they involve nothing beyond a simple, high capacity storage device, such as an external hard drive. An automatic backup is often the quickest method available once its initial setup is complete, as it can run without any input on your part and can move even large sums of data more quickly and efficiently than you can manually. Automatic local backups run at a particular time of choosing be it daily, weekly, or even monthly. Depending on how much data is being backed up, this can take a relatively short amount of time. The downside of such convenience, as with many things that are automated, is the sense of complacency people tend to get into. External hard drives can fail just like the ones inside your computer. Unless you check in on your backup every so often, you may find that your safety net was cut months ago without you even realizing it. Even with automatic backups at your disposal, you will still want to establish at least a semi-frequent check up to make sure your important data is still safe. If you are looking for an easy, low effort solution for your data backups and can remember to frequently check on your backup storage system, the automatic local backup might be the solution you need to keep your data safe.
The Automatic Cloud Backup:
A local backup can prepare you for almost any situation – from a virus to a corrupted operating system, and even in the event of complete hardware failure. However, what happens if a real-world disaster occurs? In the event of a fire, a flood, or some other serious catastrophe, the loss of years of irreplaceable information can be just as bad as the loss of physical property. For these situations, one of the only truly viable options is a cloud backup. A lot of people find the cloud very confusing, but it’s actually quite simple. It’s simply a bunch of computers owned by a company that you are renting some space on. Think of it like any physical storage rental; if you have some prized possessions that you want to keep safe, or you simply do not have enough room to store everything, you can rent storage from a company to hold them for you. The advantages are obviously that, should anything bad happen locally, your data will be safe elsewhere. Also, since the cloud is connected to the Internet, you can access the information stored there from anywhere, so long as you have your username and password handy. Additionally, like most automatic local backups, cloud storage backups can occur on a regular schedule without any upkeep or direct involvement from the user. On the down-side, for any reasonable amount of storage, most services require you to pay a monthly subscription fee, and should you stop paying, you may lose access to your information. Backups made to the cloud also can’t be as complete as a good local backup. If one of the most important things to you regarding your data is keeping your settings, apps, and software safe in addition to traditional files such as pictures, documents, and emails, this may not be the option for you, or at least, should not be the only option you use. Another thing to consider is that these backups also tend to take longer since the speed at which you can back up your data is ultimately limited by the speed of your Internet connection. Finally, while the issue of complacency and false security for the previous method are definitely still a potential concern, cloud services, since they’re managed by a professional company that you are paying a subscription to, will typically notify you much more persistently if something is amiss. Thus, only the most negligent disregard of their warnings will leave you at risk. At the end of the day, the cloud option’s greatest strength is the fact that it’s decentralized, and thus not in any one place. If you have multiple devices that you need to access important files from anywhere, or if you live in a place that is prone to leaks, storms, fires, or any other natural disasters, the cloud backup option would be advisable. If you live in a place where your internet connection may not be the best, or you are on a budget and cannot fully commit to a subscription fee, then you may want to look at a local backup solution as your data backup choice.
Nobody likes to think that it could happen to them, but the reality is that the loss of data could happen to anybody. Most of the time, it’s not due to the user’s negligence, but rather an accident or sudden failure of hardware. The future is digital; most of our most important files from family pictures and professional resumes to email correspondence with clients can be lost if not properly copied over. Gone are the days where a kid can use the age-old excuse of “My dog ate my homework!” Nowadays, it’s more like “A virus killed my computer!”.
It is important to any user of a computer, Mac or PC, to treat their data as something precious. You only need to lose it all once. It is up to the user to take preventative measures to ensure that their life doesn’t come to a halt in case of computer failure. Take a look at your data and your schedule to figure out what type of backups are right for you!
If you want to protect your data and want to know which solution may be the best for you, give us a call at RGB Computer Solutions at 781-749-1130 to see how we can help you keep your precious files safe!