The 21st century has seen a new technological revolution where data leads as the world’s most valuable resource. With the advent of the internet and other technological advances that have centered themselves around, the new information age shows no signs of slowing down. As our dependency on information grows, it has become vital to protect it in all possible forms. This means that a loss of valuable data can cost a business a major loss in revenue or can be a major risk even for the individual user.
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Also, it is realised that the magnitude of data also seems to be growing, which requires a proportional response to manage it. Take the individual user for example, who seems to be creating new information every day through the use of technology and requires a system to manage all of it. Without the proper medium available, our valuable information can easily be lost or misplaced, causing serious concern to protect it. This is why backing up your data is important now more than ever. A person might be using a computer, mobile device, or any related tech to store the information. But, imagine if an unwanted event such as a malfunction or natural disaster causes this data to be lost. This is why keeping a backup of your valuable data in a medium where it can be efficiently managed and easily be accessed is extremely important.
COMPUTER BACKUPS AND THE BACKUP PROCESS
Computer backups can be extremely resourceful in preserving valuable information as ‘copies’ and accessing when the original file is misplaced or lost in any unexpected circumstances. So, if you’re making a backup of something, you’re storing a copy of it on another medium. This ‘medium’ can be any source, such as USB drive, external hard drive, cloud backup, etc. The storage device chosen for the backup can depend upon several factors and presents its own pros and cons. Computer backups can prove to be extremely important if you are running a business, as valuable data can be stored on your computers. Making sure that this data is secure and exists in other mediums in case of theft, malfunction or other events can prove to be extremely crucial. Today, businesses store all information on computers, such as employee information, financial information, security details or other such related data that can potentially cost a business millions. That’s why having a contingency plan is important, as it helps prepare for a solution to a problem that presents itself when data is lost.
HOW TO BACKUP YOUR DATA?
Several solutions exist to help backup your important files in case they are lost from the original source, such as boot drive, external hard drive, serial USB drive, cloud backup, etc. Each holds its own significance and their use can be distinguished on many factors, such as cost, convenience and storage volume. Backing up your data means choosing a method which can provide a safe and secure way to preserve this information so as to preserve privacy. Using a limited backup method such as Windows Backup does not guarantee that all of your files will be recovered, as the backup stored is on your original hard drive.
When going through backup solution options, the choices can seem overwhelming because of the vast number of ways available to preserve this information. To decide, you should first look at your own personal convenience and decide which solution best suits your need. Such as, while USB drives might present a cheap and easy way to backup your data, they can prove to have limited storage space as compared to other choices. Or, you could opt for an external hard drive that has more storage space but presents the issue of possible damage. A hard drive is ultimately a physical object and is prone to the same issue of theft or malfunction as the original computer source. Unlike hard drives, the cloud can solve this problem.
All of these methods and more details are discusses below as follows:
1. USB Flash Drive
The USB flash drives present an interesting option to backup information in a small physical object that does not take much space and presents the advantage of portability. Because of its convenience, USB flash drives have been used as a backup method for quite a time now. But, the limited storage space presented by a USB flash drive, along with its low security, presents an issue in the case when the data being stored is valuable or will take up large storage space. Also, the fact that a USB flash drive is a physical object also presents the same issue of malfunction, damage or theft. So, USB flash drives can provide a cheap and easy method of backing up your data, but they do not suit any person storing large amounts of information which can be valuable and sensitive in nature.
2. Bootable Backup Drive
A bootable backup drive presents users with the option to backup the entire hard drive of a computer on to a similar ‘clone’ hard drive. The external drive matches in storage to the storage of the original hard drive. Sometimes referred to as a ‘clone’, a bootable backup drive gives users the option to store the entire content of the hard drive. This solves a major storage issue presented by the USB drive and speeds up the backup process as well. To backup the entire hard drive on to such a drive, special softwares exist to help you facilitate in the backup process. So, you easily backup and restore your valuable information when you need to.
The bootable ‘clone’ backup drive can also be plugged in to constantly ‘save user data’ after a certain interval of time, thus increasing the probability of your data existing in a different source in case of a data loss. Furthermore, think of a case where your primary hard drive plugged into your computer has failed and you need to access the files present on the original drive. The bootable backup drive presents the option to be instantly plugged in, and help you retrieve the original data with the same configurations as they were in the original file. But, the bootable backup drive, while presenting the user with the option of increased storage space, still also hits a dead end with storage space at some point. Also, the bootable backup drive is also vulnerable to data being comprised as it presents no secure method to preserve this information with strict security measures. Another disadvantage presented by the bootable backup drive is one of physicality, as the object is prone to damage or other causes of malfunction. This can cause the backup data to be lost, thus the primary purpose of data backup gets lost.
3. External Hard Drive
External hard drives also provide a similar backup option as with clones. But, unlike the clone, external hard drives let you create a backup of files that you might have changed or deleted in the original storage source. So, these changed or deleted files can be stored in another medium for various purposes such as keeping a record. This means that in disk cloning, an exact replica of your hard drive with all its configurations and technicalities is stored as it is on the bootable drive. Once the bootable drive is updated, it overwrites a previous file and changes it to the latest version. But in an external hard drive, the process of digital imaging is followed which allows an old copy of the file to be stored in it as well. It can be similar to storage space as with clones, but provides the option to manually choose which files and folders you wish to put into the drive as an ‘image backup’. The external hard drive is mostly intended for personal use, as it does present itself to be a viable option for businesses dealing with vast amounts of data that needs to be copied fast. For Mac users, a backup software known as Time Machine provides users with the option to backup several copies of the individual files as they are changed and keep all file history changes for a certain span of time.
Some disadvantages present with an external hard drive is the limited storage capacity, which forces the user to delete some other data on the drive or buy a new device. The primary reason for the limited storage capability within all of these physical devices is their size, which limits the storage capability within them. However, the external hard drive is cheaper and provides the option of portability for computer backups.
4. Cloud Backup
Unlike the previous backup solutions presented here, cloud backup provides an offsite backup management platform without any need for a physical object to store the information. A ‘cloud’ is an online storage system that provides the opportunity to store your data efficiently, where the storage system is managed by a third-party vendor that keeps the cloud system running on a number of servers. For the user, the opportunity is provided to simply upload the information on to the cloud from the computer and a backup of that file will exist on the internet. The user is given a limited amount of free storage space to save the information from the primary operating system on to the cloud. Cloud backup provides an advantage over backup methods such as hard drives or a USB by allowing the user to update the storage capacity at any time. Extra cloud storage space can be purchased at any point in time, thus giving the user the flexibility to cover costs as required.
Cloud backup provides another advantage over backup solutions of a significant decrease in the probability that the information stored on the cloud will be lost. This is due to the standard practice followed by most cloud backup platforms, that keep a copy of the original file on more than one server. So, in case a copy is lost because of malfunction on the server, another copy still exists to make sure the data is secure and not lost. This also decreases overhead cost for businesses in maintaining the backup system, as the cloud backup system takes responsibility for its maintenance. It also provides easy accessibility to users, with an option to limit the information being viewed on the drive by an individual user. Overall, cloud backup is an excellent opportunity to keep the files on your computer stored away offsite in a secure and accessible platform.
PREVENTING DATA LOSS: KEEP MULTIPLE COPIES
Your data holds significant value in this day and age, and it’s extremely important that you preserve this information in the most efficient way possible. Trying to figure out how to restore your files once the data is lost can be a terrible and consequential scenario, so you need to keep a contingency plan moving forward. Whether the data is related to work or it is your personal information, backups prevent loss of valuable time and resources. So, having a strategic backup plan means preparing for the worst possible outcome and as such it’s crucial that you keep multiple copies of your data, especially if it is important information. If we follow the 3-2-1 rule of backup, the rule states that at any point in time, you need to keep at least 3 copies of your original file. Out of these 3 files, at least 2 need to be stored in different mediums. And, at least 1 needs to be stored offsite (such as cloud backups). Recovering your deleted files can be a hassle, so if we keep an efficient strategy to better preserve the information we have, the lower the probability of this information gets lost or become unrecoverable.
The backup solutions presented above need to be outweighed based on personal choice and should be used to keep your data secure at all costs. Especially for businesses, keeping valuable data secure can be extremely crucial, as a loss of valuable company data can result in a financial loss. In this day and age, data is an important resource and needs to be catered properly and securely.