Data and documents are essential to your business. That is perhaps one of the more obvious statements you’ll read on this blog, but it warrants saying anyway. Companies thrive on the quality and availability of data, which may encompass anything from complex and intricate business plans through to a quickly typed-in note that could nonetheless revolutionize an entire organization.
Availability is the key word – and something few people give enough thought to in a wider sense. You might dabble with documents in the cloud, syncing content so you can easily get at it on multiple devices. But what are you doing to protect that data?
Ask yourself: would you be in a bind if your computer stopped working in an hour’s time? What about if someone stole it, or your smartphone? What would you do from a business and data/documents standpoint if the place in which your hardware was all stored burned to the ground?
That might sound extreme, but you need to plan for all eventualities. Don’t assume disaster will never strike when it comes to important data, just because it hasn’t so far. In short: you need to start backing up.
What is a backup, and what data needs securing?
A backup is a copy of data, which can subsequently be restored. It’s a way of making said data safe, in the event of disaster; this could be a major event (such as the aforementioned fire) or something less dramatic that nonetheless has a negative impact (accidentally deleting a critical business document).
The general rule of thumb if you’re serious about making data safe is to ensure it’s stored in an absolute minimum of two separate locations. Ideally, one should be remote. Multiple redundancies should mean you’ll never lose data, because you’ll have various avenues of recovery.
It’s worth noting cloud and file sync services are not backups. The likes of iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive can prove useful in the event of hardware failure. Get a new computer, sign back in, and you can get back to work. But they aren’t backups in a conventional sense, even if they do sometimes offer similar advantages, such as the means to recover deleted files. You therefore need something more.
What backups do I need to make?
In subsequent entries in this series, I’ll delve into various kinds of backup (local backups and clones to PCs and Macs; remote backups; backing up mobile devices), outlining the benefits of each kind. What you go for will, to some extent, depend on the devices you use, the importance of the data you have, and how much you’re willing to invest.
On devices and data, it’s important to think widely. If you use your smartphone for work – perhaps as a scanner to capture receipts – its data is critical too. (And from a personal standpoint, if you’ve used a phone to capture videos and photos of your kids, you won’t want those to be gone forever should you mislay your device. Backups can help there too.)
You also need to think about where you use your devices. If you’re often jet-setting with a notebook, there’s no point relying solely on a backup drive that sits thousands of miles away in an office.
The financial side of things, at least, should be an easier decision. These days, you can grab a 1TB drive that can be used for local backups/clones for $50; backup software is often built into operating systems (such as Apple’s Time Machine on the Mac), free, or very affordable; and a Backblaze account for mobile backups will cost $5 per month per computer. In all, that’s a very small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from knowing all your data is safe.
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