Monday, October 1, 2012

Backing up your data

We take great care to back up the firm’s data.  You should take great care to back up your personal data.  Consider all the digital pictures, videos, personal correspondence, e-mail, and other data on your home computer.  Now think for a moment about how you would feel if all that data suddenly disappeared.  Not a happy thought, is it?  You should know that it can happen – and it can do so without warning  –  from a hard drive crash, lightning strike, or any number of other uncontrollable events.  You can take some simple and not-too-expensive steps to help save your precious data.  The short answer is to make sure your data exists on multiple devices and/or in multiple places.

One of the simplest ways to make sure your data is protected from a hard drive crash is to back up your data to an external hard drive.  There are many options sitting on the shelf at Best Buy, Office Depot, or even Wal-Mart.  You can expect to spend about $100 for a device that has plenty of capacity to back up the data on your computer.  These external hard drives connect to your computer via USB cable and typically use included software to keep your data backed up.  Some rely on the backup software that is built in to Microsoft Windows.

For a more convenient setup with added protection consider an online backup provider.  A good example is Carbonite, but there are many, many choices.  At the time of this writing Carbonite costs $59 per year for its most basic service.  To use an online backup provider you typically begin by signing up on the company's Web site, download some software to your computer, and then let that software walk you through the setup process.  Once the software is configured your data is copied to “the cloud” on a regular basis – you don’t have to do anything else.  Plus, you get the added protection of the data being stored offsite, which provides protection against theft, fire, lightning, and other “local” problems that could render a backup made to a nearby USB hard drive useless.

There are other approaches and solutions that could work, as well.  The point is to get you thinking about backing up your data.  If you are not backing up your data at all right now, you should start doing so right away!

Craig Rhinehart, Director of IT Services