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?
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 (iCloud, OneDrive, 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 device (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.
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.