Last year, my sister’s family computer crashed. In it were all of her kids’ baby photos, her treasured recipes, her husband’s spreadsheets and documents, and all the financial accounts for her home-based cupcake business.
The term nightmare does not even begin to describe the chaos that the crash had caused: there were literally hundreds of hours’ works that went into her husband’s office files while she really relied on the computer to schedule and coordinate cupcake orders and store client information. But like a true mom, she most deeply laments the loss of her kids’ photos.
Considering the fact that computer hard drives are remarkably vulnerable to a number of threats, hardware failure or accidents, the amount of trust we put on our memory storage is amazing. After all, it’s not really a question of if but of when.
Backing up computer files is often like fire insurance: most of us don’t think that we need it at all until the time comes that we definitely do. Others who don’t backup their files plead that they don’t know how to do it because of technical limitations. Truth is, backing up your files is not that complicated; there are even a few methods which does not cost a cent.
External Data Storage
Remember the days before every computer had an internet connection? Back then, if you wanted to work on a file using more than one computer, you literally had to save it on a floppy disk and take it with you.
Nowadays, external storage options are more sophisticated and a wider range of peripherals is available. You can choose to pack data on handy USB sticks, on miniscule micro-SSDs, or on external hard drives that can accommodate terabytes of data.
The beauties of external data storage is that should your computer crash or get damaged, your data is safe and can be easily retrieved. On the other hand, take note that external data storage is subject to corruption just like any other peripherals. True, keeping it away from moisture, mishandling and extreme temperatures will lower the chances of this happening but it is bound to happen nonetheless.
Storing it Online
A great feature of the internet is that information can be accessed from any location in the world as long as you have a connection and the credentials to do so. Your email inbox has the ability to store gigabytes of information, and you can basically keep your files private because access requires a username/password log-in.
If you have a file that you just can’t afford to lose, simply send it to yourself (using the same email address or another one) as an attachment.
Of course, Google docs are also good for this. You can opt to keep files private or share them to authorized users and choose whether they have read-only or editing capabilities. For images and videos, you can also upload them to sites such as Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, and other networking sites—assuming that you don’t mind other people looking at them, of course.
Cloud Storage Services
Cloud storage services are increasing becoming more popular and affordable as the online storage service becomes more and more in demand. Most businesses (along with a few private clients) opt to subscribe for cloud storage because it offers a reasonable amount of security and convenient access to important files.
This is particularly important for organizations where a large number of people will need to have unlimited access to files. If you are considering this option, do your homework first especially if you will be storing sensitive company data and client information. Make sure to deal only with providers who have great track records and established reputations.
Ultimately, there isn’t a single backup method that is perfect and worry-free. Therefore, you may want to be extra cautious when handling and storing sensitive information like your clients’ credit card information or your company bank accounts. If you can afford it, you should definitely engage the services of an encryption expert to help you fend off potential hacker attacks and other threats.
It is up to you to determine which option will serve your purpose better. You can also increase your data storage effectively by using two or more methods simultaneously.