Backups are one of the most important responsibilities that home users neglect. Most of the time this is because home users don’t realize how important their data is until either their hard drive crashes, their house starts on fire, or their computer is stolen.
Types of Data
There are many different types of data that home users should backup. A lot of home users don’t think backups are important because they don’t have financial or tax information on their system. This is a completely false assumption. Data such as music, home movies, and college papers should be backed up regularly. I have a friend whose laptop was stolen out of her boyfriend car and I’m sure see lost several papers that were due. Recently one of my family members had their computer stolen, and has probably lost all of their iTunes music.
What a backup isn’t…
There is a common misconception that moving (not copying) files to an external drive is a sufficient backup. Actually, its not a backup at all. As long as your have 1 copy of a file, you don’t have a backup. In order to have a real backup, you must have at least 2 copies of a file.
One thing I’ve seen posted all over the internet is the mention of the Backup 3-2-1 rule. This is probably the most useful rule you can remember when it comes to backups. The 3-2-1 rule states that you should keep three copies of any important files, that includes the primary copy and 2 backups. You should store your files on two different types of media, this could be hard drives and optical media such as blu-rays or dvd’s. Finally, 1 of your backups should be backed up offsite.
How do I set it up?
It’s always a good idea to keep a local and offsite backup. For a local backup, I’d recommend purchasing an external harddrive to keep plugged in to your computer. If you have Mac OS, you can use Time Machine to keep local backups of your system, otherwise you can download a free program called Crashplan that will let your perform backups without much configuration on your part. Just make sure its backing up to your usb drive. As for offsite there are multiple services that will take care of automatically backup such as Crashplan and Carbonite. I’ve only ever used Crashplan so I’ll speak to that. For $50 a year, you can backup all of your data to Crashplan’s server, or else if you have a friend that has a lot of extra storage space that they’d be willing to share, if they install crashplan, you can backup to their system securely. Carbonite will allow you to backup to their servers for around $60 a month I believe.
As usual, post any questions or comments below.