If you thought March 31 was just the end of another month, think again, as World Backup Day is every March 31. We might have forgotten to hit publish on the story, but that doesn’t mean you can’t backup today, tomorrow, or any other day.
It might seem arduous and a pain in the proverbial, but backing up your data is one of the most useful things you can do on a weekly basis, and if not weekly, at least monthly.
It doesn’t take much, and so much of it can actually be automated, and yet people still find it ridiculously hard to do, even though we are creating data at an astonishing rate, between the documents we’re all working on, the photos we’re taking, the home movies, and so on. Imagine if this were to all just disappear, just like that?
“As the world has evolved from where we have paper records of everything to a world where everything is kept digitally, until people have had “that moment” when they have lost their data they don’t realise the depth of what that lose entails,” said Trend Micro’s Tim Falinski.
“From photos of your holidays or kids, to financial files such as bank statements, we are living in a digital world and need to ensure we develop a routine to back-up our information, like we would do if it was on paper.”
Fortunately, digital is a little easier to backup than paper, which would normally have required a photo copy and a nice place to store each. Digital, on the other hand, merely requires a place to store your information and a copy and paste command, which can be setup to be done automatically by the service, or handled by you manually copying and pasting directories.
Online storage solutions such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive provide gigabytes of space for all manner of things, though we tend to suggest using these for things that won’t clog your bandwidth, with small things like important documents, details, and the photos you hold precious and dear.
While you can totally use online storage as a total backup medium, it’s the upload that takes time, and until upload speeds improve with something like a working nation-wide broadband network providing speeds in excess of 25Mbps instead of the piddling 1-2Mbps most of us rely on, you’ll find getting the big files into the cloud takes too much time.
Instead, large files can be backed up quite easily with an external hard drive or a smaller thumb drive, backing up what you know you want to keep in a place near you but that isn’t currently resting on your computer.
Alternatively, if you end up feeling like you need more storage, consider something like network-attached storage or a “NAS”, which will bring several hard drives and the possibility of mirroring, which will back up your data twice, just in case one of those hard drives fails.
Failing drives is just an unfortunate reality of using a computer, and regardless of how good a condition you keep your computer, regardless of how tidy you are with files and how much defragmenting you do of your drive, there is still a chance that at one point in time the drive will fail.
How easy it is to recover data depends on several factors, with your backup regiment and the technology that died being key.
If the technology was solid-state, like the storage found inside ultra-light computers like the Apple MacBook Air, Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and anything else that is very thin and very light (and tablets are a part of this, too), your chance of recovering from a failed flash memory-based drive is very slim. If, however, the machine has a conventional moving part hard drive in it, you’ll have a little more luck.
But having a backup regiment is a better way to guarantee at least some degree of salvage when it comes to failed hardware, because while you might lose something, you won’t lose everything, and you’ll at least have something recent to fall back on.
“As we continue to generate more and more data we need to backup more frequently,” said Falinski.
For most people, the phrase “more frequently” would probably mean more than once a year, but we’d suggest once a month for critical files, if you can.
In fact, if you find you’re working with files you’d never want to lose — photos of a family vacation, the baby’s first walk video, university notes you know you’ll need — make sure to back them up after you’ve worked on them, keeping an external hard drive nearby to know you’ve completed it.
And if the files are small, documents and the like, do yourself a favour and setup a link between a cloud storage provider and your computer, making sure they stay backed up just in case the worst does eventually happen.