The importance of regularly backing up your data can’t be underestimated. Every year thousands of computer users, from private individuals to small and large businesses lose critical data due to hard drive failure, natural disasters or other events.
Still many computer users don’t back up their data, either because they don’t think data loss will happen to them or they don’t know how to go about it. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about data backup.
How likely is it that I’ll lose my data?
Computers are mechanical devices and as such will eventually break down and stop working, potentially taking your data with them. They are also subject to wear and tear from a myriad of sources that can affect their lifespan. Finally, unforeseen events such as power surges, accidents, fires or flooding can render your computer’s hard drive unusable at any time. This unpredictability makes it important to have a backup solution in place for all of your critical files.
How often should I back up my files?
This mainly depends on how often you modify the information in your files. Small business owners may alter some of their files on a daily basis and should back them up daily, or even continuously. Personal computer users may change their data less frequently and a weekly or monthly backup schedule may work better for them.
What backup options are available?
You can back up your files using external storage media such as flash drives, external hard drives, CD or DVD-RW disks, or even computer tape if you have a large amount of data to store.
There are also online or cloud based solutions where an online backup service will automatically backup and store your data at a remote location in encrypted form for a monthly subscription fee.
How do I choose the best solution?
There really is no one best solution for everyone. The best solution for you is one that is reasonable from a cost perspective, easy to use and provides the level of protection you need.
You need to consider the importance of your data when choosing a backup option. Is your data absolutely critical, or could you live without it? The more important your data is the greater precautions you’ll want to take. Cloud based data backup tends to offer better security than external storage media.
How quickly will you need to recover your data if it’s lost?
Local storage media tend to offer the fastest way to retrieve your data. These are all questions you need to consider when choosing a backup option.
Which backup method is the most cost-effective?
Over the long term, local storage media tends to be cheaper than cloud backup. This is because you only have to purchase your storage media once, while online backup services charge a monthly fee that can add up over time. Most online subscription fees tend to be relatively inexpensive, and over the short term they are cheaper than the initial cost of a storage medium. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend up front, it might be more efficient for you to use an online service.
How do I know if my data is secure?
Online data services use sophisticated encryption programs to ensure that your data cannot be hacked or accessed by backup service employees. The encryption covers both the transmission of data to the backup service and it’s storage.
If you choose your own external storage media, you’ll need to provide your own method of security to ensure that the device doesn’t get stolen or misplaced.
Do I have to back up all of my files?
You can choose to back up only those files that you don’t want to lose. Some files may not be important enough to go to the effort of backing up. If you’re a small business owner, it’s best to back up all of your files, you never know when you may be required to retrieve the information for tax or customer service purposes.
Proper back up and maintenance of your critical files is an important way to protect your data from loss due to hard drive failure. It may seem like a lot of effort to begin, but it will be well worth it should you experience a computer crash. Taking the time to properly back up your data could save you a tremendous amount of time, money and frustration if your computer or hard drive ever crashes unexpectedly.