Anyone who uses a computer should have some type of backup plan in place. No backup can mean a real disaster because computer equipment fails, is lost or stolen, or is damaged eventually. Vital information, memories, or important records can be lost as a result of no backup. The plan can be very elaborate and detailed, or it can simply be copying a few files onto a thumb drive or external disk. How often should your computer data be backed up? This depends on several factors:
• How often does the data change? Some files may be saved once, such as a picture or image, and then may not change again. These files can be backed up once and stored in a secured location. For files that change more often, more frequent backups are needed.
• How much data is there? The amount of data to backup can determine the type of backup method that you should use. For a basic home computer there is not a great deal of storage requirements. But for a small or medium size business there could be significantly more storage needed. Look at your file sizes and determine how many gigabytes – or possibly terabytes – that you may need.
• Is there key data that you must have? For data files that are extremely important – such as memorable pictures, tax records or legal documents – you need to have a very secure and reliable backup process.
The method that you use for backing up your data can be one or more different approaches. Here are some examples of backup methods that are available:
External hard drive – you would be responsible for performing the backup yourself. For a single computer with non-critical data this may be one of the least expensive methods for backing up a system. Be sure to disconnect and store the external drive in a different location from the computer after the backup is performed.
Network backup – some small businesses have a network server specifically for performing backups. The backup is scheduled and key computers are polled and backed up according to the schedule. The backups can be copied to tape or disk for storage off site. This method can be expensive and require technical resources to maintain.
Cloud backup – this has become a very popular and reliable method of backup for many individuals and businesses. The cloud backup services that are available today can provide extremely secure and reliable backups of a specific PC or even a network of computers and databases. The costs can vary but are often significantly less expensive than a network backup and require less manual labor than an external drive.
Deciding what and how to back up your data is your choice to make after careful research and analysis of online backup services. Regardless of the choice, a backup should be part of your plan to keep your information safe and secure.