Why you need a backup plan

Data is everywhere

We all use data, whether we realise it or not, we’re creating data all the time.  That data may be something as simple as a shopping list.  It might be a reading list you’ve compiled from some of your favourite authors.  It could also be something far more important such as a list of prescription drugs you need to take on a scheduled basis.  What if you were to lose that data?  We need a backup plan.

Data security

If you’ve decided your data is worth backing up, there’s some things to consider –

  • Where you’ll store it
  • The security of that store
  • Ease of access to the data in that store
  • Remembering where you stored it (sounds obvious but…..)

Where you store it depends on what form the data takes.  If it’s on paper you might consider keeping photocopies in a filing cabinet or a portable filing case.  For safe keeping it should be lockable, and preferrably fire proof.

Digital media such as word processed documents or digital artwork gives more choice in how and where it is stored.  The simplest of these will probably be a USB memory stick.  Some support encryption for stored data (though please remember the access password!!).

Another option for digital media is cloud storage.  This is where cloud storage providers on the internet come in.  For a fee, they can provide you with a given amount of secure storage space on their servers.  You can then use this storage to backup your data.  I use the term ‘secure’ carefully here.  The data is only as secure as the expertise of the cloud service technicians deem suitable, or as far as their knowledge allows.

Some of the larger providers, namely Google and Microsoft, have a reputation to maintain.  They are therefore more likely to invest in rock solid security for client data stored on their systems.  They have also created apps which allows for the automation of backups.  This allows you to tell the app on initial setup which directories to back up so you don’t have to.

Accessing your backup

Ok, so after reading this you’ve decided that your data is worthy of some sort of backup, and you’ve decided on a method of storage.  If your data is on paper it will hopefully be in a portable filing case.  The reasoning behid this is that if the building is on fire, you probably won’t have the time to unlock a filing cabinet and search for your most important files.

If they were kept in a portable case, preferrably near an exit, the task of retrieving your data would be a much simpler one.

For digital media, a USB memory stick is small enough to be kept with you at all times, and it should be kept with you, it’s no good hiding it somewhere and then forgetting where you put it when you need it most.

Cloud storage is a different animal, when you regain access to a PC or laptop you’re going to need to know where your data is (easy to forget if backups have been automated for the past few years), and what software, and login credentials will allow you to access it.

Epilogue

This post was prompted by the authors own lack of a backup plan after his PC refused to run for more than minutes at a time.  The option was always there, a USB drive was already set up as remote storage, and was easily accessible.

A laptop was available for use, but as this hadn’t been used much in the past few months it didn’t have the software needed to carry out the author’s day to day tasks.  Not a big problem, the internet was available and the software could be downloaded and installed.

Data needed for this software was a problem, the only hope was that the PC would run for long enough to allow it to be copied to the remote storage, luckily it did.  This author is breathing a sigh of relief, and is putting in steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 

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