Not everyone has computer files that they would miss if they were to suddenly vanish, but most of us do. Some computer files are easy to replace, like operating system files and program files … that’s why most backups tend to focus on your data: the files that can be difficult or impossible to replace.
Don’t put all your eggs all in one basket. Keep at least one backup copy of your important data files that is in a place that is geographically disconnected from your originals … and keep it current.
Backups are important because there are many ways you can lose data: accidental deletion, malicious software, hardware failure, fire, or theft. If you chose your method of backup wisely, you can effectively protect yourself against these potential pitfalls.
The biggest backup choice you must make is local or remote, although, you could do both. Remote (i.e. cloud) backups typically have a monthly/annual cost, but they also are a set-it-and-forget-it solution due to their 3 key features: they are geographically disconnected, encrypted, and automatic.
If you chose to do local backups, you need to be diligent in those same 3 ways.
First, you should be diligent in disconnecting the backup so that your backups don’t suffer the same fate as your original data (protecting against malicious software, fire, or theft).
Second, you need to be diligent in keeping your backup secure, whether through encryption or under lock and key. You don’t want a stranger to stumble upon your unencrypted backup drive.
Finally, you must be diligent in performing backups, since it requires the physical action of connecting/disconnecting and bringing out/putting away from its geographically disconnected location.
I see a place for both approaches, as long as you have at least 2 up-to-date copies (original + backup) of each of your important data files. For those of you who want me to name names and prices:
- For local backups for Windows users, I like SyncBackFree for backing-up data, and Disk2VHD for backing-up a whole computer into one file … the only cost is a sufficiently large backup flash drive or disk drive
- For local backups for Mac users, I like the built-in TimeMachine … again, all you need is a sufficiently large backup drive
- For cloud backups from any device, I like the fully-within-Canada sync.com … it is free up to 5GB, and very affordable beyond that