Backup Your Data

What would happen if you no longer had all your files because they were corrupt or deleted?

In previous articles, we have discussed device maintenance across all types of devices as well as anti-virus and anti-malware software solutions. Continuing our conversation around the secure and straightforward home network setup this article discusses data backup and how it can help you in an emergency.

  • This scenario doesn’t often occur but it can cause all sorts of problems. Most people would lose information including:
    – Personal pictures and special moments of family and friends. The personal impact of this could be huge, especially if there are major milestones or very personal moments captured.
    – Information relating to tax records and other important data. The flow-on effect of this could be immense depending on the impact.
    – Current work in progress documents resulting in re-work, wasted time and a lot of frustration.
    – Business and customer records. In a worst-case scenario, this could end your business or at the very least cause significant disruption.

Why then do so many people not backup their data? I believe the short answer is that they don’t believe it will happen to them. With the ever-increasing frequency and deceptiveness of cyber-attacks these days a safer assumption is to assume the question is when not if you will be attacked and then prepare accordingly.

Firstly then, what do we mean by backup? A backup is simply a copy of a file or data stored in a separate location in case the original is damaged or no longer available. Therefore, keeping a copy of your files in another folder in the same location doesn’t cut it. Why? Because if your data gets encrypted by a cyber-attacked both copies of the data will be encrypted and lost.

If you use OneDrive, keeping a copy in Google Drive (or vice versa) is a good example of a backup. In this scenario, your primary working data is in One Drive and you would be regularly copying the data to Google Drive either manually or automatically. Should the issue ever arise where your OneDrive data is lost or unusable you can revert to the Google Drive copy. The only data lost will be what has change since the last backup was take.

Which brings us to the next point – how often should you back up? This will depend on a number of things but for personal data which is what we’re talking about here the short answer is it depends on how much the data changes. If you change one file a day and the changes are minor then a weekly backup may be sufficient for you to recover if there’s ever an issue. However, if you have lots of files that are altered frequently then you will want to backup daily or even more frequently. One of the best ways to work out your backup frequency is to ask yourself how much data can I recover from losing? The answer to this is the absolute least frequent you should back up. A general rule would be to half that amount so you’re not under extreme pressure in a worst-case scenario where you’ve lost all your data.

Now that you’ve worked out how much data and how often you need to backup, the final piece of the puzzle is how should the data be backed up. There are many options in this scenario. One of the easiest is to regularly copy data to your backup location manually. This can be as easy as dragging the folders into the backup location and letting them update. The data could be copied to a cloud service such as OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox, or it could be copied to an external hard drive. Please note that if you’re using an external hard drive you need to disconnect it after the backup if you’re backing up from your computer or it will be the same as the drives on your computer and subject to compromise in an attack. If you have a lot of data to backup or data that changes frequently then you may wish to consider a backup service. Tom’s Guide has a good list of current potential solutions here. Whichever option you choose to go with also ensure you check it regularly to make sure your backups and working correctly. There’s nothing worse than thinking your data is backed up only to find it hasn’t been working for months when you really need that data back.

Plan ahead and expect to be attacked. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

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I specialise in driving digital transformation in organisations. My success is based on a philosophy that is business-led, where I align best-practice in technology with business strategy and customer requirements in a way that is efficient and cost-effective. I enjoy wearing multiple hats leading a ... more

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