I was talking with my sister recently and the subject of photographs came up. She is an avid photographer who loves to take pictures and share them with the family. I asked her about a particular picture she’d taken, and she said it was on her PC laptop (she has an Apple laptop with other pictures on it too). Then I asked her how she backed up all her photos. I was shocked when she said she didn’t. If one of her hard drives failed today, she would lose all her precious photos; photos that are irreplaceable. It would be a sad day.
Our conversation brought to mind how important backing up our data is today. So much of what we have now is digital, so it’s important to know how to protect it from hard drive failure, fire, flood, or theft. With that in mind, today’s Weekly Wrap-Up is all about protecting your business and personal digital data. I’ll show you various ways to keep all your data safe, no matter what happens in your home or office.
Most of our computer data is stored on a physical spinning hard disk drive (HDD or HD) within our laptops and desktop computers. In tablets, phones, and some of the latest computers, a different technology is being used called solid-state storage or SSD. The main difference here is that HD’s have a spinning disk on which data is stored, and SSD’s have no moving parts. Although SSD can still fail, HD’s are going to fail. It may be in one year; it may be in five years, but they are going to fail. And everything on them is gone. Many times this data is irretrievable. If it can be retrieved it is expensive to recover. The best remedy is to backup, backup often, and backup in more than one place. This is what’s called redundant backup.
Here are five ways you can backup your data:
1.An external hard drive
3.A network attached storage (NAS)
5.Using a Transporter or Sync
An external hard drive
Most of you are familiar with these drives. These come in various sizes and models. You can buy a 4 terabyte external hard drive for under $150. This would accommodate most of your storage needs for a long time. These drives require power from an outlet to run.
Another type of external hard drive is called a portable external hard drive. These traditionally are quite small, and have less capacity than external hard drives. Unlike external hard drives, they are powered via your USB port and require no external power – hence the name portable. At the time of this writing, portable hard drives could be bought up to 2 terabytes in size, which is still quite large.
The pro’s are that you can plug and unplug theses devices and carry them around with you or move them to another location. The con’s are the same as the hard drive within your computer. Some day they will fail. You just don’t know when.
Some external hard drives come with built-in software to help you backup your data. Others don’t. Yet you’ll need some type of backup software so that your data is automatically backed up. Backing up manually is just another weak link in your backup process. If you have a Mac then you should use their built-in software called Time Machine, which keeps many versions of your backup copy. This way you could roll back the Time Machine to any date you wanted in the past, and find the version of a file you want to restore.
Off-site storage is done by making a backup on an external hard drive and storing it somewhere else, such as your mother’s house. If you use this method, backup your computers at a set interval, such as each quarter. This is a way of archiving your information. The downside is that it is never current. But if you suffered a catastrophe at your office, this would come in handy.
A network attached storage (NAS)
An NAS is an external hard drive that collects all of the data from multiple computers in one place – similar to a server. This can be very useful if you want everyone in the office or your home to have access to all the files and keep them in one place. This is not actually a backup solution unless you have the same files on you computer. If you don’t, you’ll need to backup you NAS too.
Cloud storage is the ultimate in off-site storage. It is continuous and it is truly redundant. I highly recommend that, even if you do nothing else, adopt a good cloud storage company to backup your data. It’s the simplest way to backup, and it is very reasonably priced. Considering most of your information is priceless, this seems like it would be a good decision.
There are two companies that I would recommend for cloud storage. One is Crashplan, which we have used for several years. The other is Backblaze. They both offer unlimited amount of storage, as well as backing up your external hard drives. The main difference is that Crashplan offers a family plan which allows you to backup as many as 10 computers, Mac’s or PC’s, and for a very reasonable price. This is what we use and it works very well. For the most part we never even know it is running.
Keep in mind it takes a long time to get your computers backed up. It may take two weeks or longer per computer. They are backing up in the background, and are especially slow if you are working at your computer, since they don’t want to slow down your computer. You don’t have to do anything though. Just start it and let it run. Once it’s finished, it backs up only new files, so it doesn’t take hardly any time at all.
Using a Transporter or Sync – your private cloud storage
If you’ve ever used Dropbox then Transporter will be easy to understand. For those who don’t know what Dropbox is, the Transporter is a device that stores and syncs all the files from any or all of your computers. It’s similar to an NAS, but with one big difference. Your files are available from anywhere, from any device, any time. Yet unlike Dropbox, you buy the device and that’s it. No monthly storage fees. No security risk. You can place the device anywhere in your home or office, and manage your files from it. It is a spinning hard drive, so, like all hard drives, it will fail eventually.
The Transporter let’s you share files and folders too, just like Dropbox. And if you are away from the office or on vacation and want to watch a certain movie, if it’s on your Transporter, it’s easy to do. Share files and folders with your associates and clients, access your files from your smart phone, and sync your important files to Transporter and keep a copy on your computer.
Transporter comes in various sizes, from an empty shell where you provide the hard drive, to 2 terabytes. The Sync is very similar to the Transporter, but it is dependent on an external hard drive for its storage. Simply plug in any external drive you have and you’re off to the races. Pretty simple. There is a caveat as of this writing that the Sync doesn’t handle external disc swapping very well. It gets confused about which files were backed up and which weren’t. Until they fix that, which no doubt will, stick with a single external hard drive or just get the Transporter instead.
If you want to be really redundant, get a second Transporter and set it to back up to the one at your office or home. The beauty is that the second one doesn’t have to be on the same network or in the same location as the original. It can be across town, next door, or across the country. Now that’s a real backup.
Now you know the basics of backing up your data. Don’t delay in using one or more of these methods. It’s not funny when your screen turns blue or your computer won’t turn on. But at least with good backups you won’t have to worry. It may take a while to get everything back to normal, but now you’ll have everything you need to restore all of your data. I know you’re going to sleep better tonight.
Wishing you the best of fortune, Randall
Randall S Soules
Remodeling coach, adviser, and educator
My one-on-one coaching will take your remodeling business to new heights!
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