The Importance of Backing Up Your Data

Hi again, Benedict here, and I would like to start off this post by asking you to think about something for a moment.

If your computer or smartphone broke down right now, and you could not get any data back from it, how much would you lose?
Family photos? School or work documents and Reports? Your media collection?

Well, your answer should be: Nothing. Simple as that, so let me help you get started. I’ll begin with the simple options, and move on to the more complicated but better prepared ones.

Backing up your digital data is more important than many people realize. If you have a good notebook or phone that serves you well, you would look after it wouldn’t you? I have heard of many cases where people badly damage or wipe their computer only to realize that the only copy of all their very important files and photos were still in it.

Sadly, in such cases, the data is gone forever. It happened to me too, twice. Thankfully, mine was mostly archived data. Imagine if you lost a report or presentation you worked so hard on the day before it was due? That would be a big inconvenience for everyone. For damaged hard drives or solid state drives, you can attempt to get the data off it by sending it for data recovery. Even then, there is no guarantee that they can retrieve all your data, and the cost would be through the roof. (Estimated about $1000 and above) (That is, unless your notebook or hard drive is still covered by warranty.)

You may be wondering, ‘How exactly do I back up my data?’, and no, you are not wrong for thinking that. You see, sometimes the reason why we don’t back up our digital collection and information is because we simply don’t know how to.

What’s the ‘easiest’ way to backup? Do you have a thumb drive or external hard drive? Just copy all your files into it, and remember to update them regularly. It may be easy in this sense, but think about it, when your data collection grows, you will still need to manually keep remembering which files to backup, which you have edited since your last backup, etc. Furthermore, imagine overwriting a file on your backup storage media with an updated one, only to realize that you still needed the original older file.

This could be an acceptable solution for data to be archived (meaning no more edits will be made to it) like family photos. It could also be acceptable if your data collection size is relatively small.

The second better solution is cloud backup. Services like Onedrive, Google Drive and Dropbox all provide the ability to effortlessly synchronize your files across all your computers running the application. Each service provides a small amount of cloud storage for free, but you can also pay a small monthly or yearly fee for a larger storage capacity.

I rely heavily on cloud storage. With it, I no longer have to do any remembering or manual copying or renaming. Any file that I create, move to a different folder, edit, rename, delete or otherwise alter is immediately synchronized across all my machines. Furthermore, the cloud storage provider also keeps a copy of your data backed up in their storage platform, allowing you to access them anywhere where you have an internet connection.

What about smartphones? As mentioned above, there are applications from those online cloud storage providers that will allow you to back up the data in your phone. One example is camera backup: As soon as I snap a picture, and get connected to the internet, that photo is automatically uploaded into the cloud storage and it appears on my computer when I switch it on. Simple and efficient.

Up to this point, I have only been elaborating about file backup. What about your computer, and the entire operating system? Well, yes, the whole operating system can be backed up as well. This is done by creating a ‘System Image’. Windows 7 and Windows 10 both have a Backup and Restore option in the control panel. Windows 8 onward has a File History option in the control panel. You can also use a third party program, like Macrium Reflect Free Edition to take system images for you, on a schedule even. Do note that you will probably need an external hard drive to perform these types of backups.

Windows 7 and Windows 10 both have a Backup and Restore option lets you take system images and even set a schedule for when they should occur. System image backups allow you to restore an operating system to it’s former working state in the event that something goes horribly wrong. (E.g. Computer keeps crashing, or computer virus infection.)

Windows 8 to Windows 10 has a File History option allowing you to back up your files to an external hard drive, while maintaining the revisions that a file has gone through, allowing you to retrieve the older version of a file if you need it.

That’s the gist of this topic for now. Feel free to give me your feedback.

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