Back It Up!
Updated: Jun 8, 2018
All Your Data... Imagine the scenario: you go to switch on your computer and nothing happens. Nothing at all. Not even a tiny ‘click’ that says, “There’s a bit of power getting in, but I’m not turning on”.
You then realise that you’ve got everything on there. Your holiday snaps and videos, your coursework, your CV, that list of important things to remember… you get the picture. But it’s OK! You keep regular backups, yes? No?
Your requirements may mean backing up just the important files, like photos and videos, and important documents, but in some cases you may need to backup every bit of data you have. This normally applies to businesses that rely on their data for them to run effectively. In the event of a failure they can recover their entire setup and be back up and running in a relatively short length of time.
What can I do? Regular, automated backups are more straightforward and less expensive than you might think. In fact, in some cases it won’t cost anything. With a few clicks, and a little time, you’ll be well on your way to never experiencing irretrievable data loss.
What are my options? There are essentially two options: onsite or offsite.
Onsite means backed up data is stored at your home or premises. Offsite means backed up data is stored away from your home or premises.
For onsite backups, your data would historically be stored on a tape drive but these days it’s more likely to be an external hard disk attached to your computer or network. For offsite setups, your data could be stored on a portable hard disk, a USB drive, or in the cloud.
Which option is best for me? There are four considerations: simplicity, reliability, security, and recovery.
Simplicity - The backup operation must be simple enough to not become a chore that takes up valuable time and resources. In most cases the procedure will be automated with software so that once setup, there is very little input required on your part.
Reliability - You need to have a reliable backup process that carries out its tasks successfully, and reliable storage equipment for storing your valuable data.
Security - Whether your backups are stored onsite or offsite, what measures are in place to protect them from loss through fire or flood? If stored onsite are they safe from being found by pets or family members, or less scrupulous colleagues or employees, that may not treat your backups with care?
If your backups are stored offsite, is your information secured and accessible only by you?
Recovery - In the event of a hardware failure or theft, can you access and recover data from your backups quickly?
I know what I want Good for you! You’ve decided which option suits your needs and now you want to do something about it.
Unless you’re running your backups manually, you’ll need some backup software. There’re many options available that are free to use, or you can pay for more customisable offerings.
In terms of hardware you’ll need perhaps a USB drive, an external hard disk – portable if you’re taking it offsite - or an account with a cloud storage provider, e.g. Google (Google Backup & Sync), Microsoft (OneDrive), Apple (iCloud), etc.
Google provide 15GB free, Microsoft provide 5GB free (1TB if you’re a student), Apple 5GB free. These are just the more popular, free ones from the big names – there are many others available.
As mentioned above there are many options to have your data backed up online to the
cloud. The cloud refers to programs and services that run on the internet, rather than on your computer. If we’re talking backups, which we are, then we’re referring to hard disk space on internet-attached equipment, which will belong to the provider of the service if you’re using one of the bigger players.
The beauty of using the cloud is that our four considerations - simplicity, reliability, security, and recovery – are all solved for you with very little input on your part.
Simplicity – You specify which folder(s) you wish to have backed up to the cloud and, as long as you’re connected to the internet, your data will be continuously monitored and backed up when it changes. Once backed up it’s available to view on any connected device you use, thereby covering the recovery aspect.
Reliability – With the level of investment being placed in cloud services the reliability of the cloud is unmatched. Data is mirrored in several physical locations at data centres around the world, so if one centre goes offline your data is still backed up and available.
Security – Thanks to the various, high-level security offered by cloud service providers, it’s incredibly rare for your data to be accessed by anyone without your explicit permission. Remember, it’s all about assessing the impact of your data being lost or stolen, and balancing that with the likelihood of it happening. If you have a list of your bank accounts and passwords, PIN numbers, and other security information then that’s going to need a little extra security, but a few pictures of your dog and some nice sunsets at the beach are unlikely to warrant that extra level of protection.
Recovery – As mentioned above, with data centres around the world, your data is always available to you on any device, anywhere, any time. All you need is internet access.
Take a look
Relevant to this blog is a backup tool I use myself - Paragon Hard Disk Manager - which
contains an excellent Backup and Recovery section among other very useful tools. At the basic level this product is also free! You can download this for yourself by clicking the Paragon Software image to the left.
As an experienced IT Consultant with fingers placed in many pies over the years, I can provide you with reliable, expert advice and services.
If you’d like any information on Backups or Information Security, or anything else IT-related, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the contact link at the top of this page to send me a message.