Why should you backup your data? The main reason would be hard drive failure. Hard drives are hardware, and can fail. Other reasons you need to backup your data could include accidental deletion, operating system failure, and fire. Sometimes we get in a hurry and delete a file that was important, don’t rely on the trash bin for storage. Some files don’t even go to the recycle bin when deleted, for example if they are too large. The operating system, whether it be Windows, Linux, OSX, etc., can fail also. If the operating system will not boot it makes it difficult to get your files. If there is a fire or some other type of disaster you could lose your data also. It is becoming more and more important to backup our data because more things are going digital format including documents and photos. Years ago the only way to have photos of family was the printed picture in photo albums. In today’s digital world, photos are taken and sometimes never printed at all. Documents such as reports, tax documents, or letters get printed a lot less as well.
How? There are many different ways you can backup your data. What way you backup will depend on the setting, type of file, and much more. Businesses vs. personal files are typically backed up differently. Depending on the importance of the data, the backup may be stored onsite (same building) or offsite (another physical location or online).
External hard drive – One way to backup your data would be to save a copy on an external hard drive or flash drive. This can be a manual process or automatic. To manually backup data you would need to connect the drive to the computer and copy and paste the files/folders. This would be time consuming and most likely not reliable. Remembering to backup would be the main issue. There are many programs to backup data automatically. There are features built into the operating systems or third party software. These programs can range from free to very expensive depending on what your needs are. If you want to protect your data from fire or other disaster, you will need to store the backup offsite. This can be a another building of yours or even at a bank vault.
Raid – Raid stands for redundant array of independent disks. This type of backup is automatic. There are several configurations but basically you will need more than one physical hard drive in the computer and depending on the operating system, a feature or program to set it up. Once set up it will backup your data and if a hard drive fails your data will be recoverable. This will not protect from physical damage such as a fire that ruins the entire computer. There are 7 standard raid levels that you can learn more about here.
Online – Online storage is becoming much more popular and cheaper. There are many services that will backup your data and save it to “the cloud” so that in case of data loss you would be able to recover it. You can use a service particularly designed for data backup or use a cloud based storage as your backup. Some services are geared directly at backing up data, such as Backblaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan, and Norton Online Backup. (No particular order just examples). Then there are service such as Dropbox, OneDrive, and SugarSync that are more geared toward accessing data on all your devices or even on a webpage. These could be used to backup data because if your computer failed in anyway, the data would be accessible from other devices.