A guide to backing up your data
World Back Up Day is just around the corner and the smart way to celebrate is by backing up your information!
Better saved than sorry
Backing up is a term used to describe the way you safeguard your digital information. With much of our daily lives focused around technology we often forget that technology can fail and because it can fail your personal data may be at risk. It’s important to back up your data regularly to ensure that you don’t lose anything. The most important lesson in backing up is that simply moving your files to an external hard drive isn’t enough, you should strive to store your data on 2 locations. Hard Drives, whether it’s the one in your laptop, or an external one, will fail eventually. So having your data in 2 locations is the safest course of action!
Backing Up Options
There are a lot of options that you can use to back up your information such as cloud based services or physical external hard drives. Here are some options that you can choose from.
Cloud Based Services:
Cloud based services are storage options that are housed in other locations that have connectivity to your electronic devices. These services include Apple’s iCloud, Google Drive, Microsoft’s One Drive, Dropbox or a server that you run yourself. Cloud based services are great options for people always on the move or for groups of people that want to collaborate. With cloud based services you can edit, store, and share your information with your other devices almost instantly. Most of these services come with a monthly subscription fee and that can be a real deterrent for some. The downside is that uploading to a cloud based service can take much longer, and the connection isn’t as stale, meaning it might not be the most efficient way to share large files.
Physical drives are hard drives that can be plugged in to your devices allowing you to transport your information to them. These can include small and portable USB drives or large stationary drives. LaCie or G-Technology are popular brands for these devices. Physical drives are affordable one time purchases and you can keep the drive anywhere you like such as a fire proof safe or a safety deposit box. External hard drives can be very safe and durable, but require a wired connection, which means it’s harder to do on the go.
A lot of people forget that much of what is on one device may also be on another device they own. If you take pictures with your phone and upload those to your computer, if you didn’t delete them after import then they still reside on your phone. Same goes for things like documents, emails, and videos. If one of your devices fails it is a good idea to see if you can retrieve any lost information from another device. Duplicating your data is by far the best option.
What size should I choose?
Choosing a storage size for your backup can be a confusing task. Megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes sound similar and are often confused for one or the other. Most options come in either gigabytes or terabytes as they are affordable and have a capacity that can house most types of files.
The first thing to consider is how much space you are using. In order to find this information you will need to consult the storage settings on your device. If you use Mac OS X then the information can be found by going into the About this Mac setting and navigating to the storage section. If you are on iOS (iPhone or iPad) you can go to settings, then general, then manage storage to see how much you are using.
It is a good idea to buy more storage than you need. If you have a 500 gigabyte drive on your computer and you’re using 400 then you need at least a 500 gigabyte size back up option. By ensuring you have enough space to back up your whole hard drive you don’t have to buy two drives. If you have multiple devices then you may need to adjust accordingly.
Some useful information:
- 1 Gigabyte = 1024 Megabytes
- 1 Terabyte = 1024 Gigabytes
- A 1 Terabyte drive can roughly fit equivalent of 200,000 songs, or 500 hours of movies, or 310,000 photos, or 85,899,345 pages of plain text documents.
Which option should I choose?
It’s a matter of personal preference as each option has it’s own benefit. An assessment of your lifestyle and needs may help you decide. Individuals who travel often times enjoy cloud storage while those who don’t travel sometimes enjoy physical drive back ups.
Backing up in Mac OSX
Apple makes backing up your computer very simple with a program called Time Machine. Time Machine utilizes a physical drive and automatically backs up your computer for you every hour or when changes are made.
To set up Time Machine navigate to your System Preferences>Time Machine and select the disk you would like to back up on. Then sit back and enjoy some time to yourself while your Mac backs up automatically.
Using iCloud as a back up on Mac is very simple as well. To set up iCloud go to System Preferences>iCloud and sign in. Once you are signed in, select what you would like backed up and let your Mac do the rest. iCloud will not back up every single file like Time Machine will but it will back up the most important things like photos and documents.
Backing Up on iOS
To back up on iOS you have two options that are provided to you from Apple.
To back up to iCloud navigate to Settings>iCloud>Backups. From here, tap back up now and your device will take care of the rest. To back up to iTunes you first need a computer that has iTunes installed on it. Next plug your device in and select it in the upper left hand corner of iTunes. There will be an option here that says Back Up Now. Click it and your device will do the rest. Once you have selected either of these options your device will automatically back up to either iCloud or iTunes.
Come down to your local Simply Store and ask a staff member about backing up and what you can do to secure your data!
By Dan Daly