In today’s world, people are living more and more of their lives digitally - people work from home, game online, take digital photos, file their taxes online, and just about any other activity you can think of. Each bit of this information is stored locally on your hard drive in one shape or another. Unfortunately, hard drives fail and it’s not a case of whether or not your hard drive will fail, but when. Besides normal wear and tear, hard drives are susceptible to power surges, extreme heat or cold, impact stress, and any other of a number of worst-case scenarios. So, if your data is important to you or your business you must have a bulletproof back-up plan.
What Will You Need?
There are only three things you will need to provide significant protection to you digital data; a program or service that will schedule and perform a backup, an external storage device, and an offsite storage solution. The examples provided here for each of the three steps will be the most basic or cost-effective choice and should not be considered the only or best choice for your data protection.
1. Back-up Program - The first step in providing a bulletproof backup solution for your data is to find a program that will perform the backup process. Keep in mind that this program or service should be able to schedule your backup, allow for total or partial file backup, and provide for your offsite backup. Some services or programs may only help with one step in this process, such as applications that come with external hard drives and the Windows backup and restore tool. Services such as BackBlaze, Carbonite, and CrashPlan assist with some or all of the tools needed to back up your data.
2. External Storage - This may be the easiest step to ensure that your personal files are protected. All that is needed is an external storage drive that is continuously connected to your home system or that can be connected for backup services. This drive will need to be larger than the total size of files you plan to backup or equal to the size of the full drive you plan to protect.
3. Offsite Storage - This is the key step for providing a bulletproof backup solution. Many worst-case scenarios for data storage end up with the destruction of compromise of your home – extreme weather, theft, fire, and power surges. Each of these worst-case scenarios will more than likely damage both your main computer and the external storage device. Having an off-site storage solution for a second backup will provide a quick and relatively painless restoration of your sensitive and important digital files. The services provided by BackBlaze, Carbonite, and CrashPlan will cost you a yearly or monthly fee for the protection of your digital backups.
Putting It All Together
Once you have everything purchased and installed, be sure to follow the directions associated with the service or program you have chosen. Important files that are accessed regularly should be scheduled for back up on a short duration interval, such as every 24 to 48 hours. Files that are not used or accessed as regularly can be scheduled for back up on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. Ultimately, the intervals of your backup plan are purely preferential, but the more often that you protect your files the less chance that you lose an important digital file.