Let’s play a game. Go to the Photos app on your phone and look at the total number of videos and images on your device – all those precious memories of family vacations, clips from your favorite concert, and the countless snapshots of your furry companion. Next, open your laptop or desktop and check to see how many documents you have saved — perhaps all the research reports you have saved to defend your graduate thesis or an important slideshow you’re presenting to your boss on Monday. If you had to guess, would you say the total number of these various pieces of data is into the thousands? Now imagine if all this data was suddenly gone. What would you do?
You might be thinking, “That will never happen to me.” However, this situation is more common than you think. More than 60 million computers will fail worldwide this year, and over 200,000 smartphones are lost or stolen every year. That’s why we’re celebrating World Backup Day (March 31) by sharing how you can properly back up your files and find peace of mind knowing that your data is safe and sound.
What are backups and why are they important
A backup is a separate copy of your important and sentimental digital files and information. Storing all that data in one place, like a personal computer or smartphone, can prove unsafe. Creating another copy of that data through a backup will ensure that it’s stored and kept safe somewhere else should your device get wiped or stolen.
It’s important to recognize that data loss isn’t something that only happens to huge corporations or unsuspecting victims in spy movies. Everyone is susceptible to data loss or theft and backing up that data is an easy step to protect all your information and prevent cybercriminals from taking what isn’t theirs.
Data Storage 101
Data is one of the most important assets in the modern world. As we illustrated earlier, people collect countless files that contain valuable information they want to keep safe. Luckily, there are two common and inexpensive ways that a user can store their data and their ever-important backups.
Although “the cloud” became a major buzzword years ago, its definition is still cloudy for some folks. The cloud exists in remote data centers that you can access via the internet. Any data you’ve uploaded to the cloud exists on dedicated servers and storage volumes housed in distant warehouses, often situated on campuses full of such warehouses. Data centers are owned by cloud service providers, who are responsible for keeping the servers up and running.
To keep your data physically safe from theft and destruction, and to make sure it’s available whenever you want to access it, data centers run extensive cooling systems to keep the electronics from overheating and have at least one backup generator in case of power outages. But how do they make sure that this data is secure in the cybersphere? Cloud systems use authentication processes like usernames and passwords to limit access, and data encryption to protect data that is stolen or intercepted. However, it’s important to remember that passwords can be hacked. Typically, the service provider holds the encryption keys to your data, meaning that rogue employees could, theoretically, access it. Likewise, your data could also potentially be searched and seized by government entities.
This begs the question: Trust or don’t trust? Because cloud storage companies live and die by their reputation, you can rest assured knowing that they go to great lengths to use the most advanced security techniques and provide the most reliable service possible. To help ensure the security of your data should you choose to store or back it up to the cloud, keep anything truly sensitive in a private cloud behind a firewall.
External hard drive
With an external hard drive, you can manually back up all your data and files yourself onto a physical device that you can access anytime. These drives are a reliable way to achieve data redundancy. An external hard drive doesn’t rely on internet access like cloud-based services and is an easy fix when transferring data to a new device. However, using external hard drives requires a more hands-on approach to backing up your data. It’s your responsibility to regularly perform backups yourself and store your hard drive in a safe location. While cloud solutions offer huge amounts of storage, storage space on hard drives are limited, so you may have to purchase more than one device. Look for an external drive with at least a terabyte of space to accommodate all your data, which tends to accumulate quickly.