April Tech Challenge: Have a Disaster Recovery Plan

World Backup Day was on March 31, 2021. While doing a single backup of your devices is a great idea, it’s not much use to only do it once a year. So, this seems the perfect time to take on our Disaster Recovery Plan Challenge.

Why You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan

Off the top of your head, do you know what meetings you have scheduled for today? Do you know your best friend’s phone number by heart? Do you have physical copies of all the photos you took at your daughter’s wedding?

Family photos. Calendars. Contacts. Work in progress. Invoices. Customer orders….so much of our business and personal lives exist in a digital world. But if your laptop or phone died today, how much of your life would come to a stand still? How much information that you take for granted as being available at your fingertips, would disappear?

depressed businessman with closed eyes sitting at workplace with head on laptop near crumpled paper

Thinking about the loss of all that information can make your head spin, but don’t panic! Now that you understand how important it is to have a disaster recovery plan, let’s figure out how to do it…

Personal Disaster Recovery Plan Options

There are a few options to consider for how you can regularly backup your data and be able to retrieve it easily from various locations and devices.

External Drive:

External Hard disk drive connected to laptop

An external drive is a device that you plug into your computer. The device shows up as a drive on your desktop and then you manually drag all the files you want backed up, to the drive. Voila! You now have a copy of all your files.

An external drive is a simple and relatively cost-effective option as long as you remember to do it regularly and provided that the disaster that destroys your computer doesn’t also destroy the hard drive sitting right next to it (ie if your computer is destroyed in a house fire, chances are your external hard drive will be too). The other drawback to an external drive is that you’re unlikely the take it with you to work or on vacations, so access to your data may be limited if your device fails when you’re not physically in the same location as your external drive.

Woman plugging a USB drive into her laptop, technology and data storage concept

A thumb drive, or USB flash drive, is a smaller, and hence more portable, external storage option. However, because of its size, it can be more easily lost or damaged.

Cloud Storage:

Cloud storage is best for a disaster recovery plan

Cloud Storage offers the benefit of storing all of your data off-site. It also provides as much storage space as you need so, as your data grows, you don’t need to worry about running out of room or purchasing a larger external drive. Google Drive and Dropbox are both well-know, reliable Cloud Storage services. Both services ensure your files are available from any device you sign in with, and they also make it easy to share files with others.

Automatic Cloud Backups:

The best option is to choose a backup method which uses Cloud Storage and performs regular backs up for you. Making use of your devices’ built-in backup software and/or subscribing to a backup service such as Backblaze or Carbonite, ensures that all of your important documents, photos, contacts, music, and more are regularly backed-up and available when you need them.

This article provides instructions for backing up your PC to the cloud by making use of Dropbox, Google, OneDrive, or a full backup service such a Backblaze.

If you have an iOS device (iPhone, ipad, or iPod) you can follow these instructions to make sure they’re backed up and set up to backup regularly.

If you have a Mac computer, you can backup your computer to the built-in Time Machine or backup to the Cloud by following these instructions.

Business Disaster Recovery Plan Options

Your business depends on keeping track of a lot of moving parts. A loss of information can mean a loss of revenue and trust from your customers. Fortunately, our Business Division, NEWT, posted a blog about this very thing last month, so definitely use that as a starting point to understand how NEWT’s Hybrid Business Phone System makes use of LTE wireless connectivity for backup disaster recovery.

small business owner on phone with NEWT Hybrid Cloud Edition phone system

Beyond that, many of the resources listed for the Personal disaster recovery plan can be used for business as well. Both Backblaze and Carbonite provide Personal and Business Cloud storage and backup options at comparable price points; it really just depends on what you’re looking for and which options fit your business needs best. And again, Dropbox and Google Drive are both excellent for file sharing and storage, allowing multiple people to contribute to documents and files, as well as access documents from any device, which can help keep your business running.

Take on April’s challenge and remove the stress of losing important information and valuable memories. Good luck and see you in May for our next tech challenge!

 

Cloud vs Local: Keeping Your Data Safe

Best case scenario, the past few months gave you a lot of time to do those things you “always meant to do”. You’ve read all about the pros and cons of minimalism, started exercising at home, and found a new hobby to distract yourself from the fact that your team isn’t playing.

Have you backed-up your phone and your computer? 

If that’s another one of those things you planned to get to “someday”, what better time than now? 

It’s not likely you need convincing that backing up your computer is a good idea, but in case you do: If your computer is the only place all of your photos and documents are stored, and something happens to it, your data is likely gone. Forever. Enough said. 

But where to start?

CLOUD STORAGE

At a bare minimum, the first step is ensure you’ve switched on any cloud backups that are part of your computer or phone operating system (iCloudOneDrive, Google, etc) which should take care of the majority of your documents, photos, and texts.

Advantages: Cloud storage is convenient. Your data being “in the Cloud” means it’s stored on a server somewhere and you can access it anytime you want from any Smartphone with cloud icon for data backupsdevice (as long as you have an active internet connection). Once you select and turn on a cloud service, it takes care of everything for you, making it simple and easy to use.

Cloud storage adds a layer of protection: your data is physically housed somewhere else so if your computer loss is due to theft or damage, your data is safe and secure. Also, cloud services have redundancies built in: your data is distributed across multiple locations so you’re very unlikely to lose it in the event your cloud service server experiences theft or damage. 

You generally pay for what you use. Cloud storage is based on a subscription model so you’re not paying for a lot of space you don’t need. 

Disadvantages: Cloud storage relies upon a good internet connection to keep updating the latest version of your data, and for restoring from a backup. So during a power outage or while travelling, any updates you make locally may be lost, and not all data may be available to you. Also, restoring from backup can take a long time, relative to a local restore.

If the data you’re storing is very sensitive, then unauthorized access to that offsite data may be a concern, but unless you have a branch of MI5 in your basement, it’s probably not going to be an issue for you.

While your operating system’s backup service will backup the majority of your content, it won’t always backup all of your computer settings or the applications you’ve installed. This can make migration to a replacement device more cumbersome than simply clicking “restore from backup”.


LOCAL EXTERNAL DRIVE

For a more comprehensive backup, consider a local external drive: a physical device you either plug into your computer or add to your network for all devices on that network to backup to.

External hard drive for storing data and restoring from backups

Advantages: Backing up your data and restoring from a local backup is much faster than cloud storage. It doesn’t rely on an internet connection and it’s much easier to create multiple snapshots of your data. So, depending on how frequently you backup, your data is constantly up to date and you can roll back to earlier captures.

Disadvantages: When using a local drive there is the additional step of managing the backups and performing backups on a regular basis. To mitigate this, consider purchasing a NAS (Network Attached Storage); a hard disk on your network that allows any properly configured computer within range to backup to it automatically. This is especially advantageous for families with many devices. It’s expensive but it holds a lot of data, making it a one-time purchase.

Another disadvantage is the physical location of your local drive. Having your external hard drive in the same location as your device means that if your data loss is due to fire or theft, it’s possible your hard drive will be destroyed or stolen also. 

Ultimately, a combination of cloud storage and an external drive provides the best coverage. A combination gives you the assurance of your data being safely stored at an external location, while also giving access to your most up-to-date data quickly and easily in the event you have patchy internet service such as when travelling or in a remote location.

External links for more information:

How to backup to iCloud

How to backup to OneDrive

How to backup your Android phone to Google

How to save text messages

The best external hard drives for Macs and PCs