Backing Up Your Data (And Why it’s Important)

A few months ago, my best friend lost all of her data because of ransomware on her laptop called Seto. Seto is a malicious ransomware strain that ends up on Windows systems through hacked RDPs.

Seto is one of the first viruses that is using advanced asymmetric encryption to lock files such as pptx, docx, doc, jpg, png, zip, xlsx, xls, etc., and leaves data unavailable for usage.

Losing all her files—personal and work files, made us realize how important it is to back up our files.

Having duplicate copies of your most important information saved in a remote location keeps it safe in case anything goes badly wrong with your computer.

And there is a number of ways you can lose your files, not just from ransomware.

1 – Computer crashes

Computer crashes all the time, and it can lead to data loss.

2 – Virus Infection

Destructive, malicious viruses can corrupt files and disable computers especially if you don’t have an anti-virus.

3 – Hard drive failure

Hard drives have a finite lifetime and can fail suddenly and without warning. The sudden death of a hard drive can cause the painful loss of months or years of irreplaceable files, and the timing can be catastrophic – if this happens close to a work or college deadline, it could be a nightmare scenario.

4 – Theft/Lost Device

Of course, there are instances where you can lose your device, especially if you are traveling.

There are many effective backup methods for securing your files. Some of these are the 3-2-1 Backup System, Cloud Backup, and Backblaze.

The bottom line is that if you value what’s kept on your computer, it’s wise to take steps to protect your information from sudden loss.  Work can be redone, but the loss of cherished files like family and travel photos is permanent.

Many users regularly back up their files to their computer hard drive, but in the event of a total computer breakdown, this will not protect the information.  Saving data to a separate location makes far more sense, and can be easily done if you have an external hard drive, or a large-capacity pen drive to back up onto.

So, what will you do when you forgot to back up the files on your laptop, and now it’s dead? A passing thunderstorm caused a catastrophic power surge, and it fried your laptop and hard drive.

What now?

If your laptop will not turn on at all or will not boot up correctly, if at all possible, take your laptop to a registered computer repair shop.  See if they can fix the long enough for you to copy your important files over to another hard drive. If the repair shop cannot get it up and running, even for a short period of time, then see if they can remove the hard drive for you.

In most instances, you can purchase a hard drive adapter case that you can use to convert your old hard drive into an external hard drive that you can then connect to another system. This will allow you to copy all your data to another device. 

If your hard drive was damaged and you are still able to boot it up but data is still missing or corrupt, there are numerous apps you can download to help repair and find those lost files. Just perform a simple Google search for “file recovery program” and you will get many results.  Some are free, and most are paid. Recuva is a good option but only works on Windows-based machines. Read the user reviews to find which one will work best for your situation.

How do you prevent it from happening again?

Why it is important to back up your data

To prevent losing your data again in the future, you need to have a backup system in place. One such method is the 3-2-1 Backup System.

The 3-2-1 Backup system is a way of backing up your data in which you will ultimately have 3 copies of your data. 2 copies of your data will be stored on different types of media at your location, and a third copy will be stored off-site. It’s a simple way to ensure your data is safe.

A quick way to setup up a backup for off-site storage is to use a cloud-based system like Backblaze or Carbonite.

Both of these services automatically backup your data to the cloud and are supposed to be a “setup it and forget it” process. They run cloud-based in the background. Backblaze and Carbonite both work with Windows and Mac systems.

If you do choose to go with a cloud-based backup system, please be aware that it takes time to backup all your files to the cloud. Depending on the amount of data you are backing up it can take a week, a month, or even longer for the initial backup to complete. If you have a slow internet connection it could take even longer. However, once that initial backup is completed, only files that are changed and new data are backed up, and that doesn’t take nearly as long.

Regardless of what backup system you use or if you decide to go with a cloud-based system, just make sure you are actually backing up your data. Once you have a plan in place and setup, check on it once a month to ensure it is actually working. Having a solid backup plan will put your mind at ease and allow you to focus on other things.

The 3-2-1 Backup Method

Have you recently lost data on a computer or mobile device? Maybe you lost precious photos taken on your phone or accidentally deleted critical financial documents. We have all done this at some point in our lives, and we will all probably do it again in the future. This is why the 3-2-1 Backup Method is so important.

The 3-2-1 Backup Method is a backup strategy in which you have three copies of your data with two copies stored locally and one copy stored off-site.

It works for any data, from documents to images and videos. This process ensures that you will have a copy of your data in case the worst happens – a catastrophic power surge, hard drive failure, etc.

It’s not as crazy or complicated as it sounds, and it is a reasonably straightforward process to set up. By incorporating the 3-2-1 backup method, you will ultimately have three copies of your most important data.  Two copies will be stored locally at your home or office, and one copy will need to be stored off-site, such as on the cloud.

You already have one copy on your device, the copy you initially created.

A second copy could easily be placed on an external hard drive, a portable USB drive, or even burned to a CD. 

I highly recommend this 2 TB external hard drive by Western Digital.  I, myself, use this external hard drive.

Two terabytes should be plenty of space to back up your files. Although if you need more space Amazon has numerous external hard drives you can look at and get the size that fits your needs.

For a third copy that is stored, you could easily use a cloud backup service such as Backblaze or Carbonite or even document-sharing services like Google Docs or Dropbox.

Having an off-site backup is the last step to having a full-fledged backup strategy. The best part about using a cloud-based service for backing up data is that it is mostly hands-off.  Once you set it up, you normally don’t have to do anything else for it to work. It’s that simple.

You can also apply the 3-2-1 backup method easily to your mobile devices.

For example, backup your back up to iTunes and download your photos to the Photos app. You can then export your photos to an external hard drive. If you enable iCloud storage, then your data and pictures are automatically backed up to the iCloud servers.

Just remember, no backup system is perfect because, as humans, we are not perfect. Whatever backup system you choose depends on you to implement and keep it going. However, the 3-2-1 backup method is one of the best systems you can apply to make sure you are covered if you lose your data through accident or unforeseen circumstances.

Cloud Storage vs. Cloud Backup

Why it is important to back up your data

You probably already know having a sound backup system of your data is essential. Cloud-based storage and backup apps are beneficial in backing up your system as they allow you to save your data off-site. Off-site storage is a must-have for your data backup process, and you have a lot of options these days.

Before you choose a cloud-based storage or backup system you first need to understand that a storage system is not the same as a backup system. While sound performs similar actions, the purpose of each is different.

A cloud storage system is exactly what the name implies – it’s stores data in the cloud.

Examples of this type of system are Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. Most cloud backup systems use the cloud storage system to store their customer’s backups. The great benefit of using a cloud storage system is that you typically only pay for the space used, and you can access the data from anywhere.

Services like Dropbox and Google Drive are not technically a cloud storage system.

While similar, they allow you to sync documents and folders to the cloud, which then enables you to use that data from anywhere, regardless of location or device. As long as you have an internet connection, you can connect to your data when using these services.

If something happens to your system, and there is a data loss you only have access to the data you synced on Dropbox or Google Drive. These services are not meant to be used as a backup or storage solution but as a document sharing and synchronization service. For instance, Google Drive and Dropbox only keep deleted files for 30 days. If you didn’t realize you deleted a file by accident until 31 days later you are out of luck.

A cloud backup system is a little different from a cloud storage system.

Cloud backup systems work in the background of your device and automatically back up new or changed data to the cloud. Examples of this type of system are Carbonite and Backblaze.

Backblaze

Why it is important to back up your data

Backblaze is a well-known cloud backup system that helps you never to lose a file again. As with most cloud backup systems, Backblaze runs in the background and automatically backs up your files to the cloud.  Backblaze is an excellent option for those who want just to set it up and forget about it. The software is easy enough that anyone can use it and it just happens to be one of the most inexpensive cloud backup systems available.

As always, there are pros and cons with Backblaze just as there is with any other cloud backup system.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Unlimited data
  • Works on Window and Mac-based computers
  • Ability to backup external hard drives
  • No file size limitations
  • Ability to locate a missing or stolen computer
  • Request a hard drive or USB drive with your data on it to be sent to your home
  • 10 Gb free upon sign up for business backup
  • Cost Friendly – Only $5/month or $50/year
  • Easiest Backup Experience
  • Extremely Tight Security Over Your Files
  • Extra Function To Protect Your Device
  • Quick Online Customer Support

Some of the cons include:

  • No version history – it doesn’t keep previous copies of your documents once they have been updated.
  • It can cost up to $189 to get a hard drive of your restored data sent to your home
  • Subscription is limited to one computer per account only.
  • To download backed up data, you can only do so in increments of 500GB. A zip file is created for the data you need to restore, and it can take a while to download any large amount of data.
  • Deletes files after 30 days if your computer or laptop hasn’t been plugged in
  • If you are using a private password and you forgot it, the data in your subscription is permanently locked without any chance for retrieval.
  • Mobile applications cannot be used to sync files with your account.

Because there is no backup limit all files are automatically backed up except for operating system files, applications, and temporary files. Knowing you don’t have to manually choose which files get backed up makes it easy to set up.

Please be aware, though, that initially backing up all your data can be very time consuming and system heavy. When you first install Backblaze it has to upload all your data to the cloud. Depending on the amount of data you have to store and the speed of your internet it can take weeks to get all your data stored. This is true for any cloud backup system. However, once the initial backup is done updates are not as intense, nor do they take as long.

Keep in mind that Backblaze will delete files after 30 days if your device (computer or laptop) hasn’t been plugged in and connected to the system.

It also deletes files after 30 days that have been deleted from your computer. If your device has not been connected to the internet to perform a backup for six months, then Backblaze will delete your backups. If you decide to use Backblaze keep this limitation in mind, so you don’t inadvertently lose files you want to keep.

Whether you choose to go with Backblaze as your backup system or another cloud-based system, just remember to have a plan in place.

Backing up your data is essential.

You never know what may happen and having a backup system in place can give you peace of mind.

When choosing a service, the most important feature to look at is data recovery. If the unthinkable does happen and you lose your data, which service will be the easiest to get your data from? Most cloud storage systems only allow you to download your data over the internet, and that can take a long time. However, some backup systems have an option where you can request that they send you your data on a hard drive, USB drive, or CD. This allows you to get all of your data at once instead of slowly downloading it over time.

So, which is best, cloud storage or a cloud backup system? The answer is both!

Cloud storage is great for documents and data you want to keep but don’t need access to regularly. Perhaps photos from 10 years ago or financial documents from 20 years ago. This way, you don’t need to keep them on your computer or laptop, and they are safe in storage.

Services like Dropbox or Google Drive are excellent for documents you use daily, and cloud backup systems are wonderful for backing up your system as a whole, but you still have to have copies on your local device. The perfect backup solution would involve both cloud storage and cloud backup systems.

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