Prevention of data loss is vital for organizations to run smoothly and for home users not lose anything significant. This is why backups are incredibly important.
The good news is there are a great number of backup solutions these days! Whether you are a home user, a small company, or an enterprise – backups are key to preventing any kind of data loss.
External Hard Drives
Having an external hard drive is an easy way to have data in two locations. Backups can be configured to run seamlessly in the background or at regular intervals. There are wired options (connecting an external hard drive to a computer or server through a cable) and wireless options (ex: Apple’s Airport Time Capsule). Both options keep data in two locations: the original source and the external hard drive. If one fails, the other serves as the backup.
A home user can have one or more hard drives to serve as backups. Companies can do the same or use what’s known as an NAS (Network Attached Storage) device. If files are kept on a server, the NAS device can be the on-hand backup to that data.
The potential issue with an external hard drive backup is if the site where it is kept is destroyed (ex: a fire). Then, both the original data and the backup are gone.
Cloud backups provide another solution. They provide data backups where the data is stored at a third party site (i.e. server rooms far far away). This way, if the original device is destroyed, all the data is still securely at another location. It can be retrieved online.
There are many cloud backup solutions right now. CloudBerry backup software can integrate with Amazon’s data storage plans. CrashPlan software provides cloud backups as well as the means to backup to local hard drives or a friend’s computer.
Syncing services are slightly different than cloud backups. A great example for this is DropBox. DropBox will sync files between locations. The difference is mainly in file retention. If you delete a file from your computer, that file will then be removed from DropBox. The action syncs. That file is no longer “backed up” in DropBox. Thus, it is a syncing service keeping files in two locations, but you would not be able to get a file that was deleted in the past.
File Backups VS. Image Backups
There are a few terms to look out for when searching for a backup solution: file backups and image backups. What’s the difference?
File backups will backup folders, files, and their whole structure. Depending on the software, previous versions of files and folders may be retained since the original backup date. This means you can restore a file (or several files) from a particular date.
Image backups backup the whole drive. On Windows machines, the C: drive is the main drive of a computer. An image backup will take a data snapshot of this drive to use as a backup. This is good for another reason. Let’s say a virus infects your computer and spreads to many files and folders. Well, restoring a backup file by file and folder by folder could be tedious. An image backup offers the means of restoring a computer to its exact “image” (appearance, data, everything) on a given backup date. This way, if a virus infects a computer, a previous data image can be restored.
Whatever option(s) you go with: redundancy, security and price are all key in the end.
Redundancy means having backups and even backups of backups. Use multiple options. Have data on an external hard drive (encrypt it with a password for protection) and use a cloud service for backups. Use passwords, good passwords (one’s with uppercase, lowercase, numbers, symbols – not easily guessed).
As of prices, you can buy a 1 or 2 TB external hard drive for under $100. That’s a one time purchase. You can enroll in a cloud or syncing service that in most cases has a monthly fee. Depending on the tool choice and the plan desired (how much space), that price can vary. $5-$10/month is a common range for one computer with one user.
Don’t find yourself without a backup when something happens to go wrong! Get a backup solution today to manage data loss if (and when) it happens.
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