Why You Should Backup Your Data And How to Do It
Surveys show that of all the business that have a backup plan in place, more than 75 percent of those backups didn’t work when they tried to restore the data.
If you test your backup, you would know that before it’s critical but if not, you’ll find out at the worst possible time – after data is already lost.
Let’s look at why a backup strategy is so important and how to backup data.
Why Having a Backup Is So Important
What is more valuable to you – your computer or the information stored on it? Sure, the computer might have cost a lot more to purchase but it’s replaceable.
All your documents, photos, videos, music, and other data that you’ve created over the years, not so much. Imagine your computer crashed and you lost years’ worth of pictures documenting your kids’ growth. How could you ever replace that?
If you have business data stored on your computer, it can be just as valuable as those memories. Your accounting data, customer records, contact lists, and everything else could be gone in an instant if you have some kind of hardware failure.
An up-to-date backup of that data could save your bacon.
Factors for a Good Backup System
A good backup system should meet 3 criteria:
Redundancy means you have more than one backup of your data. If you lose everything on your computer and find out your one and only backup is also corrupted, you might as well not have a backup at all.
Having two or more backups increased your odds of being able to recover all your critical data.
Off-site means at least one of your backups should get stored somewhere away from your computer. If your backup drive is sitting on the desk next to your computer and your house burns down, it’s all gone.
Stash one of your backups in your safety deposit box and rotate the disk every week or two. Store one at a friend’s or family member’s home. Lock one in your desk at the office. Anything to get it into a different location.
Automated means the backup should run by itself, whether you remember to do it or not. If it relies on you to start the process, chances are you’ll procrastinate or forget at the worst possible time.
Methods to Backup Data
There are several ways to back up your data, with varying amounts of work to both back up the data and to restore it if something goes wrong.
Saving Backups Copies
The simplest way to back up your data is to save a copy of important files on another disk or a device like a USB stick. This creates a second copy so if you make a mistake or delete the main file by accident, you can fall back on the copy.
This is a quick and easy way to back up individual files but it doesn’t scale well if you have a lot of data to save.
Cloud storage services like Apple iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive let you upload your files to the cloud. When you save a copy on your computer, it automatically uploads to the cloud service so there’s a copy stored there.
The main application for this is to sync your data between different computers and devices but the side-effect is that you have a backup in the cloud.
Cloud backups services like Backblaze and Carbonite are a little different than cloud storage. Instead of primarily being a sync service, they’re a dedicated backup.
All the data on your computer gets backed up to the cloud when you first set it up and then any new or modified files get added to the backup automatically from then on.
This is one of the best options because it hits all three of the important criteria. It’s in the cloud so it’s off-site, the cloud services have redundant servers, and it happens automatically without any input from you after it’s set up.
External Storage – Archive Data
Another common backup method is using an external drive to save copies of all your data.
An archive backup saves your data incrementally. Once the initial backup is complete, the backup software adds new files or changed files to the backup one-by-one.
There’s no “master” copy of what’s on your computer so if you need to restore it, you have to restore the main backup and then add each of the incremental backups afterward.
External Store – Image Backup
An image backup is also saved on external storage but instead of backing up incrementally, it creates an exact image of what’s on your computer. If your system crashes, you can restore the image and be right back where you left off.
All your apps, your operating system, your data, and everything else on your computer get included in the backup. This is known as cloning your drive. You can find information here about cloning your Mac’s hard drive.
Some backup systems create a version history of the files on your computer. This is known as versioning.
When you edit a document, for example, the backup saves the version of the file before you made the changes as well as the modified file.
This lets you revert to an earlier version of the document if you realize you deleted something you shouldn’t have.
Versioning backups need more storage as time goes on so they’re not always the most efficient option but if you ever need to revert to an older version of a file, they can be invaluable.
Don’t Put Off Setting Up Your Backup System
Whatever method you choose to backup data, don’t put it off any longer if you haven’t already got a system in place. Every day that goes by without a backup is one day closer to a catastrophic data loss.
Don’t think it won’t happen to you, prepare yourself for the day it inevitably does.
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