If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will eventually… the hard drive starts clicking… the screen keeps turning blue on your PC… the spinning beach ball of death keeps appearing on your Mac… or the power button doesn’t respond when you push it… and your computer is dead. Do you have a backup ready to restore? Or are all your photographs, videos, and business files lost?
A complete crash could spell minor or major disaster for a small business owner who stores everything from email and website files to financial records to client projects to virtual product files on the computer. If you only save a file to a CD here and there, or haven’t gotten around to setting up any type of backup system yet, let’s look at three of your options.
CDs, DVDs or USB Memory Sticks: Many people use CDs, DVDs or USB memory stick to back up important files. This is an easy way to back up just a few files, and take them along with you. If you want to backup your entire system or larger amounts of data you may need quite a collection of discs or sticks. They’re also easy to misplace or break.
External Backup Drives: A large external backup drive can easily hold all your data and is more difficult to misplace than a disc or stick. But you’ve still got to remember to run backups. Look for a drive that has the “one-touch” backup feature (you push a button, it copies all your files from your computer to itself) or comes with software that does incremental backups on a schedule (incremental means it will look for and backup any changed files since your last backup).
Online Backup Systems: With faster internet connections and cheaper data storage options online backup systems like Mozy and Carbonite are growing in popularity. After installing their special software to your computer, it works in the background to send a complete copy of your encrypted files to their storage space and then watches for changes so it can stay updated. It’s an affordable option for storing a mirror copy of your computer files somewhere safe.
I’ve got multiple backup drives and I use them regularly. But not every night. My backup drive saves the most important files weekly. A crash today could mean I’d lose up to 7 days worth of important email and work files (and the most recent pictures of my kids, too!) if I depended only on the backup drives. In the case of a theft or home fire, both my computer and backup drives could be at risk. So I use online backup solutions on all my machines as well. This allows me to feel secure that in the event one backup fails my important data is still safe.
So, what’s your data safety strategy? Put a plan in place so you can rest assured that your files are safe when that inevitable hard drive crash, nasty virus, or other disaster hits.