Backing up your data is essential. If it all goes horribly wrong then a good backup is the place to return to. This could save you from:
- Malware which can only be removed by wiping the machine
- Hardware failure of the computer
- Physical destruction of the machine (fire / flood)
There are a number of ways to backup your data. The first essential step is to work out what data you have and what you want to backup – it may not be practical or affordable to backup everything, depending on size. This is especially true as mobile phone cameras have led to ever larger photographs and more of them.
- USB sticks
- External hard drives
- Network Area Storage (NAS) drives
There are lots of ways of backing up in your home, which are relatively straightforward to do but can become time consuming. That means you are not likely to do this often. The cost of home backup solutions like NAS drives has dropped significantly and represent a cost effective solution. You could mix and match – for example copy everything to a NAS drive once a year and then do more frequent backups to an external hard drive or even a high capacity USB stick.
The most important thing is that your backup is ‘air gapped’.
That means that once the backup is created it is immediately physically disconnected from the original data. We see so many occasions where this does not happen and the backup becomes infected or corrupted in the same way as the original – the backup is worthless.
Also think about where the backup will be kept – a fire proof safe, or even off-premises. If you store it elsewhere you must think about what is keeping your data safe – encryption is good idea.
The cloud (iCloud, Google Drive, etc…) is a great place for personal backups. Although it sounds very mystical and lots of people are concerned about security, reputable providers of cloud backups are doing this on an industrial scale. The UK Government has a ‘cloud first’ policy for the delivery of services in the public sector, depending on a risk assessment.
Cloud backups allow a massive degree of automation such that data is backed up on a near instantaneous basis depending on the setup and signal for mobile devices. This reduces the burden. Restoration is also fairly simple.
The three most important steps are ensuring:
- The cloud backup provider is reputable (use a web search)
- Your account has a STRONG PASSPHRASE
- Your account is also protected by TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION (2FA)
Should you ever need to wipe a machine and start from the backup, you will need original software discs (where applicable) and the licence keys permitting you to use the software. It can get difficult and expensive if you do not have these – you may even end up needing to purchase again. Think about creating a list of key software along with your licence keys and keeping them somewhere safe and secure.
- Cloud Storage with Apple (Mac, iPhone, iPad) https://support.apple.com/icloud
- Cloud Storage with Google (Android phones and tablets) https://www.google.com/drive/
- Cloud Storage with Microsoft (Windows) https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17184/windows-10-onedrive