Are your prized photos and important files safely backed up?
Our tech mentor says there are two types of people when it comes to backing up computer files – those who back up regularly, and those who wish they had!
There are a variety of ways to create and maintain backups of your files. We recommend that you follow the 3-2-1 Backup Rule for making and keeping backups:
3. Keep at least three copies of your files – the original plus at least two backups.
2. Keep your backups on two different storage types – for example, one backup on an external drive and one backup in the cloud (more on the mysterious cloud in a minute).
1. Keep at least one of your backup copies offsite – because if all your copies are in one location and some local disaster happens you would have all your backups wiped out at once.
Though it sounds at first a little overwhelming, the 3-2-1 backup rule is actually pretty easy to follow. If you have one backup on an external drive and another in cloud storage, you have met all three conditions.
Now let’s take a closer look at the most common backup methods:
An external hard drive with your computer’s built-in backup software: External or portable hard drives have come down in price over the years. A large capacity external drive can be purchased for well under $100. You attach the drive to your computer (there are both wired and wireless attachment options) and use your computer’s built-in software for backing up (Time Machine on the Mac computer, Backup and Restore on PCs running Windows). Once set up, the program creates backups on a regular schedule automatically.
Cloud storage: Just to clarify, there is nothing celestial about the cloud – it really refers to a very large server somewhere that hosts your backup files. Examples of cloud storage services include Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud Drive and Dropbox.
Most cloud storage services offer limited free storage with paid options for increasing storage space. You manage your own cloud storage with these services.
Online backup service: Backblaze and Carbonite are examples of online backup services. You may also see these services referred to as “cloud backup” but online backup services are different from the cloud storage services we described above.
With online backup services you pay a monthly fee for regular automatic backups of all your personal files. Backup protection for one computer on either of these services costs $6/month.
If you “sync” your devices, aren’t you safely backed up?
Syncing your devices means that you can access the same photos, contacts and other content from your computer, tablet, and/or smartphone – in other words, from all your “synced” devices.
While syncing and backing up go hand-in-hand, they are different in some important ways. Syncing provides only limited backup coverage. Why? First, not all content can be synced. With iCloud, for example, your email will only be synced if you have an Apple email address – that is, an email address that ends in @mac.com, @me.com or @icloud.com.
Second, when all your devices are synced, if you delete a file (for example a photo) from one device, that photo will also be deleted on all your other devices. To safeguard your most important files, then, you should also have a reliable backup system in place.
If you don’t have a secure backup method yet, we encourage you to set one up now. We don’t want you to become one of the second group of folks we mentioned at the beginning of this article: “those who wish they had.”