Many people know that backups are a good idea, yet not everyone acts to ensure their data is backed up in case a device is stolen, lost, or damaged. By device, we’re not specifically talking about your smartphone; this term includes your laptop, tablet, video camera, etc. — basically any piece of technology that stores […]
Many people know that backups are a good idea, yet not everyone acts to ensure their data is backed up in case a device is stolen, lost, or damaged. By device, we’re not specifically talking about your smartphone; this term includes your laptop, tablet, video camera, etc. -- basically any piece of technology that stores data.
Backups are not generally enjoyable. However, once you configure a backup strategy and automate the process as much as possible, you can attain peace of mind as well as effective protection for when the unexpected happens.
This is going to be a three-part article. In this first installment, we will go through the 3-2-1 strategy and explore how to back up your desktop and laptop files. In the second and third parts, we will explain how to back up your mobile device and online backup services.
The 3-2-1 strategy means that your data resides in three different devices: for example, the pictures stored on your mobile device count as one copy. If you duplicate those pictures to your home desktop computer, that makes two copies of your pictures across two different devices. The third copy should be “off-site.” If your pictures are synchronized with an online service, that counts as your third copy.
The 3-2-1 strategy is not the only option to protect your files, nor is it the ultimate solution. This is the recommended starting point when it comes to safeguarding your valued data.
Establishing this process involves two main devices: a smartphone and a laptop or desktop computer. To back up the data on your main devices, you will need a secondary device. In this case, an external hard drive would be appropriate.
This will depend mostly on preference and how much data you need to backup.
Advantages of a hard drive:
Advantages of a NAS:
On the other hand, using a NAS has some disadvantages:
We will review NAS storage in a future article. For now, we will focus on getting started with an external hard drive.
This will depend on each user. For example, if you are the only person living in your household, you can do some simple math:
1 Laptop (1 TB total disk capacity) + 1 Mobile Device (256 GB) + 1 Tablet (256 GB) = 1.5 TB -> 2 TB
This means that a 2 TB hard drive should be large enough to meet your storage needs. Now, if there is more than one person in your household, consider adjusting this equation to reflect your requirements and invest in a larger hard drive or multiple.
There are several options to back up your data on a laptop or desktop computer (backing up a mobile device or tablet will be covered in a future article):
The copy/paste option is the simplest way to back up your data. Connecting your hard drive to your computer enables you to copy and paste files directly into the hard drive folder. The drawback however is that this method requires user intervention and is often forgotten.
There are several applications available that can back up your data to your hard drive. Hard drives may come with an application pre-loaded, depending on the brand. Personally, I’ve used Free File Sync to copy my computer files to the external hard drive.
Free File Sync is a nice tool because it offers full control over how I want to back up my data, including removing files from the computer as they’re copied to free up space. At a minimum, it’s important to back up your important data, often found in these folders:
If you are using Windows or macOS, you can choose to enable the built-in backup function. For Windows OS, you can use the built-in OS solution:
If you are using BitLocker to encrypt your files, you will only be able to back up your history version files, not the live version.
For macOS, you can use Time Machine. The macOS solution is far more powerful than the Windows option. Time Machine allows you to back up files, applications, and application settings, among other data. If you need to restore your data on a new computer, everything will be readily available.
If you choose to sync your files using Free File Sync, MS Windows Backup, macOS Time Machine, or another backup software option, ensure your computer will back up every day to avoid losing relevant or high-touch files.
In the next article, we will cover backing up mobile devices (Android or iOS).
Article written by Daniel Alarcon