Options for Backing Up Data

Published On October 31, 2013 | Mobile

We all know the scenario too well – the dreaded “I’ve lost all my data!” Whether the tragedy is the result of a stolen phone, a fried laptop or a mishap near water, it is always painful to feel the loss of all your information and hard work.

The online backup company Carbonite reported in a 2011 survey that 51 percent of Americans had experienced a complete loss of data, with 39 percent admitting they had never backed up their data.

However, if you back up your data, there isn’t a need to worry about losing all of your information; the most painful part of the experience might be heading to the store to pick out a new hardware device. One of the most important things you should keep in mind whether you’re backing up a smartphone, tablet or computer is the rule of three.

The Rule of Three

You should back up your data regularly, even once a day if possible. When doing so, simply remember the rule of three: you’ll want one copy with you, one copy on an external hard drive, and one copy in the cloud. Three copies of a file, in three separate places is generally a good guard to keeping your information safe from complete loss.

The Copy With You

It is obvious to have a copy of the file itself on your computer, but an even better option is to back up the file on a thumb drive (also known as a USB or flash drive). These small devices are increasingly smaller, cheaper and can hold more data than ever. String a couple on your keychain for safekeeping.

The External Hard Drive

An external hard drive is the next important step to keeping your data safe. External drives run anywhere from $75 to $200, depending on how many gigabytes they hold and what manufacturer they come from. A portable hard drive is recommended, as some of the stationary ones are easily damaged if they get knocked around too much. Besides, portable drives are usually lighter and USB powered, so they can comfortably be taken on vacations and business trips to easily back up data anywhere.

To back up data onto an external HD, plug it into your computer’s USB port and follow the software installation wizard. After the first pass, your computer should back up your computer automatically each time you plug in the hard drive (given you do not change the preferences on the software).  Each time you back up your files, a new folder with the latest data will be visible on the hard drive.

The Cloud

The third location to back up data, and perhaps one of the most important, is the enigmatic “cloud.” The cloud is simply a place to store information in cyberspace. That means it is accessible from anywhere, at any time by just logging into a remote server, usually via some online service. A few well-known and reliable cloud storage providers include DropBox, Copy, Google Drive and RackSpace.

Some of these services offer up to 15 GB free storage space, with the ability to purchase more space at affordable rates. Most cloud storage providers also allow you to download a desktop app, so the service will automatically sync files on your computer with the cloud or so you can easily drag and drop files into a desktop folder and sync that folder to the cloud. There are tons of options that make the elusive cloud extremely easy and familiar to manage.

Backing up a tablet or smartphone works the same way – most devices offer services now to send files directly to a cloud server account. You can also download photos and documents to your computer and then move them to an external HD, thumb drive or cloud server.

Avoid the frustration of losing your data and remember to follow the easy and efficient rule of three.

 — By Jennifer Thayer

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