Data loss can happen at any time. You can leave your laptop on the bus, or fall victim to a hard disk failure on your desktop. You might even spill that late night glass of wine over your brand new tablet. The loss or damage to your equipment is bad enough, let alone the extra stress caused by finding you’ve lost all your family photographs. So, what should you do to avoid losing your data?
The obvious answer – make a backup!
It’s so obvious, yet so many of us still don’t have a regular backup of our computers or mobile devices.
If you’ve got a small amount of photographs or documents, the most cost effective way to back them up is to use a memory stick and either copy the files to the memory stick or use a piece of backup software to do this automatically (we’ve linked to some backup programs at the bottom of this blog for you).
Larger amounts of data, like a computer with lots of pictures or music, are best backed up to an external hard disk drive. These devices tend to be the same size (or bigger) than the storage area in your computer, so can back up everything.
If you have multiple computers in your family, a NAS box (network attached storage) is a great way to back-up everyone’s computer. This is basically a hard disk drive, with a network port, that connects to your router. The hard disk drive is then accessible over the wi-fi (or cabled network) from all of your computers and laptop devices. These can then all be set to back-up to the network drive on a regular basis.
When considering a NAS box, we think it’s worth spending slightly more (usually around 30%) on a device that has 2 hard disk drives, which means if one of the disks fails then you’ve not lost all your backup data.
Make sure your phone data is safe
Modern mobile phones are basically small computers in your pocket. This means that they typically store a lot more information than they did 10 years ago, including contacts, pictures, music and apps.
Most phones will let you back them up, using the software provided by the manufacturer. For example, with an iPhone you can set-up iTunes to back-up your phone automatically when it’s connected to your computer.
Some phones have cloud back-up support built in. Again, Apple’s iPhone has their proprietary iCloud system built in, which allows you to back-up the phone to the cloud, but also to synchronise a copy of your photos and contacts to their servers – meaning if you need to replace your phone and don’t have the old handset you can restore your contacts, pictures and settings from the cloud.
If your phone doesn’t have cloud backup, there will usually still be a way to save your contacts and information, even if it means you have to have the phone synchronise your contacts with Outlook, or Windows Address Book. Older Nokia phones used ‘PC Suite’, Blackberry have their ‘Blackberry Desktop Manager’ and Samsung have their ‘Kies’ software suite.
Save your crucial stuff in the cloud
Office 2013 (and 365 Home Premium) has built in support for SkyDrive, which is Microsoft’s cloud storage platform. You can use this for free (7GB for most people, or 20GB of storage for 365 customers), and save/open your documents directly from your SkyDrive.
Other options are DropBox, Google Drive, or one of the many other cloud drive providers.
Automate an off-site backup
Hard disk back-ups are OK, and cloud storage is fine for having a copy of your documents, but if you’ve got a bigger bunch of important files then we recommend using an off-site backup service which can store all your important files (and also store revisions of them, so you can go back in time if needed).
Talk to us!
We can help you plan the best backup strategy for your home, home office or business. We’re always happy to help, so please drop us a line and we’ll give you some suggestions!
Backup software links
Leo Backup – Powerful, but simple backup software. Has a pro version, but also a free version which will suit many people just fine. – For Windows
Snap Backup – A very simple ‘one click backup’ program that can back up files to a ZIP file on an external hard disk drive. – For Windows / Mac / Linux