Authored by a Symantec employee
Have you ever lost a lot of really important data? Or, alternately, have you ever had a moment of panic where you thought you did? Whether it’s images of a family vacation, a report from work or a semester’s worth of homework, you probably have data on your computer that’s not just valuable, it’s too valuable to lose. Backing up your data regularly will help you to avoid the crushing feeling that comes with finding out that all your hard work and treasured memories are gone.
The Importance of Backing Up
Let’s face it, no matter how great your computer or external hard drive are, one day they’re going to wear out. That’s just the nature of any piece of hardware. Your local computer repair shop might be able to get that data off, but then again, they might not. When you don’t back up, that’s the gamble you’re making.
Worse, the Internet is full of threats to the integrity of your data. Viruses and Trojans don’t just steal your data. In some cases they erase. There’s also the growing phenomenon of ransomware. This is where a hacker puts a virus on your computer that encrypts your data. You then have to pay hundreds of dollars to have them unencrypt your data. If you’ve backed up your data, this is less of a concern. You can just wipe the hard drive and restore to your latest backup.
It doesn’t matter if you lose your data because of mechanical failure, a natural disaster or criminal malice, your data is gone. However, the data doesn’t need to be lost. You can back it up.
How to Backup Your Data
There are a ton of ways to backup your data. Each is going to have its own different procedures. Still, there are some general guidelines when it comes to making a good backup.
- Storage is now so cheap that it makes the most sense to just back up everything. You might be able to save a few pennies by only storing what you absolutely can’t replace. Most modern computer users, however, will want to back up everything simply because it doesn’t cost much to do so.
- Cloud storage offers a number of advantages over local storage. For example if your house is flooded your backup will likely be gone, unless you stored it in the cloud.
- The more places you have data backed up the better. Don’t feel like you have to pick between a locally stored physical backup and backing up in the cloud. Backing up both is your safest bet.
- On the same token, don’t underestimate having physical copies of things like your bank statements and tax records. It’s best to keep a file of your most important documents here in the physical world in addition to any backups you have.
- Identify what you need to back up. For example, some of your applications might be stored in the cloud whether you realize it or not.
- Your documents are going to be the most important part of your backup. Take some time to organize your documents if they aren’t already. That’s going to make it easier to ensure that you’ve backed up everything that you need to.
- Application data is perhaps one of the more difficult things to backup because the data can change daily. If you rely a lot on applications, you might need a backup solution that backs up regularly -- daily or more -- without you having to tell it to.
- Your operating system probably came with a backup when you bought it. Remember, though, that if you ever have to reinstall your back-up, most of your settings will be lost.
- Backing up isn’t an “all or nothing” proposal. It’s a good idea to have a thumb drive on hand to back up recent important documents. Again, you want as many layers of backup as you can get.
The chances of losing all of your data in a disaster aren’t great, but they’re greater than zero. Backup is definitely one of those “better safe than sorry” type of things. It costs little and takes little time to do, but the cost of not doing it can be a lifetime of regret.
Disclaimers and references:
Symantec Corporation, the world’s leading cyber security company, allows organizations, governments, and people to secure their most important data wherever it lives. More than 50 million people and families rely on Symantec’s Norton and LifeLock comprehensive digital safety platform to help protect their personal information, devices, home networks, and identities.
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