Computer Backup Solutions
Computer data backup is a concern for both individuals and small businesses. It’s easy to
overlook how frequently computers crash and to underestimate the devastation you’d feel
if it happened to you. Most people don’t back up at all because they think they don’t
need to, or they don’t realize there are so many options for securing important data.
Don’t be one of the many who make excuses-invest in one of the following:
USB memory sticks, pen drives, or flash drives: These handy little devices can fit on a
keychain and typically come in sizes ranging from 2GB to 32GB. Now, while most new
PCs have hard drive capacities over 100GB, the amount of space taken up by essential
files is much less. If you’re only concerned about retaining your documents and maybe a
few pictures, a USB memory stick is a great option.
Benefits: 2GB drives can be purchased for as little as $5, while a 32GB drive will run
you about $75. They’re also extremely portable since they’re so small, and can be used
to transport small files easily between computers.
Downfalls: Flash drives aren’t suitable for backing up lots of pictures, videos, or music
libraries. They’re also small, which means they’re easily lost.
Best for: Individuals on a small budget or who wish to back up only essential
External hard drives: These work exactly like the hard drive on your computer, except
they’re a stand-alone drive that can be plugged into any computer. Since this type of
drive isn’t integrated into your computer hardware, you won’t lose information stored
here if your computer malfunctions.
Benefits: As much space as an integrated hard drive, but won’t be compromised
during a crash. They’re relatively inexpensive, with 100GB drive available for as little as
$50. If you want to back up your entire hard drive, you can use your operating system’s
backup option and save directly to the external hard drive, or you can manually transfer
your libraries and even use it for extra storage space. Of course, external hard drives
offer increased portability, especially for those who need to transport files from home to
work or from computer to computer.
Downfalls: If you’re only using an external hard drive as an extra place to store
files, and not as a true backup, you’ll still lose potentially important data in the event of a
crash. External drives are made to be portable, and therefore small. This doesn’t leave
much room for ventilation, so keeping your drive from overheating is important. If
you’re plugging it in, backing up, and then unplugging it for storage, you should be fine.
Best for: Individuals with a moderate amount of media ranging from documents
to video and music libraries.
Local computer back-up servers: If you have access to a larger local server, it’s a perfect
place to back up files. Backup servers are generally used for businesses specifically to
retain information in the case any of the computers on the network are compromised.
Benefits: Your information is stored in a secure, external location and can be
fully restored, as a lot of backup servers are set to automatically backup on a daily basis,
usually in the middle of the night. Servers that are managed in-house will offer security
not only for the individuals backing up, but also for the company.
Downfalls: Local back-up servers can be expensive, especially if you’ve got a
very large amount of data or many computers that will be backing up on a regular basis.
They also require setup and some level of management. Backup also takes time, so if
you’re operating on a 24-hour basis or are otherwise concerned about time constraints
they might not be the best option.
Best for: Small to medium businesses. At a basic level, a local backup server can
be a computer with a large hard drive that’s connected to your LAN network. You can
Online computer back-up services: Online backup services offer a secure, remote place
to back up your data. They’re highly managed and can be accessed from any computer,
providing you with a place to store and access data at any time. Expect to pay an average
of $5-10 per month.
Benefits: Security and ease of access are unparalleled. Plans and prices are based
on your needs. You pay for the amount of space you need-no more, no less. Some sites
even offer free storage, though you’d want to use a verified safe storage site. Your data
is also secure from threats such as theft or fire, which is unique to online backup.
Downfalls: Though security is taken very seriously, there is always a chance for
hackers to infiltrate your data since it is online. You must also be able to remember your
username and password as retrieval can be difficult or impossible if this information is
lost. While monthly fees could be considered reasonable, they can add up to more than
what you’d pay for local backup.
Best for: Individuals who don’t mind paying a monthly fee, need access from
multiple locations, and who want to protect data from loss due to outside sources.
The most important part of backing up is sticking to a backup schedule. It’s up to
you how often you think you’ll need to back up, whether it’s every day, once a week, or
once a month. You can choose the best option for backing up, but if you forget to do it
you’re still in a position to lose important information. So learn about your options,
choose carefully, and remember to stick to your backup schedule. You’ll be thankful you
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