Back up, back up, coz it's on
“Worse things happen at sea,” is how the saying goes.
And if you lose your data, then the chances are you will be all at sea.
In the not too distant past, backing up data was primarily a concern for businesses who stood (and of course still stand) to lose out financially if something went wrong and they lost access to their files.
To the average home user, it was more likely to be a headache than a disaster.
But since digital photography has become the norm and invaluable family snaps and videos are stored on the ageing computer in the corner, even the most casual user of a laptop or PC stands to lose out on more than money if disaster strikes – and believe me it does.
In the months since I started TechMate, I have already had several cases where customers have needed my data recovery service.
A common misconception is that data is usually lost if it is deleted by accident, or if a hard drive fails mechanically.
But so far for me, neither of those scenarios have been the reason why data recovery has had to be deployed.
Among others, I’ve ventured across:
- A laptop that was stuck in a recovery cycle which meant the operating system had been corrupted and the only way of getting the laptop working was by removing the hard disk.
- A laptop where the fuse had blown on the motherboard and it was cheaper to buy a new computer and get the data off.
- And a computer over a decade old running Windows Vista that turned on but did little else.
These are only some examples, and on each occasion the hard disk itself was still intact so the data was retrievable with varying degrees of ease.
But if your disk does have a mechanical failure then recovery is not always guaranteed. If your computer is stolen or destroyed in a house fire – I, nor any other computer technician, will be able to retrieve it.
Yet the answer to it all is so simple – back up.
While backing up to an external disk or a USB stick is better than nothing, they are equally likely to be lost in that apocalyptic theft or fire I mentioned. Even a trusty NAS set-up – which is a great idea for other reasons – isn’t immune to complete catastrophe.
So if your pictures or documents would be too much to bear losing, the obvious solution is the cloud.
The chances are if you are running Windows that you are already most of the way to having OneDrive running on your PC. Even if you haven’t yet signed up, it sits there hungrily waiting for your files to be uploaded in the side pane of your File Explorer window.
There are plenty of other online storage services out there, most notably Dropbox – which I myself use for day-to-day files I need to access safe in the knowledge I can access them anywhere and I haven’t got to worry about hardware failure leaving my business in the lurch.
But for a more complete solution, I recommend using a tailored online backup service.
The main benefit of these services is the ability to select which disks and folders you want backed up. This is done when you first sign up and install the software and after that you can literally forget about them while they silently back up your valuable and invaluable data.
Admittedly, I personally check back periodically to make sure everything is as it should be, but in four years I’ve never found anything amiss.
While these services are not free, and not always cheap, they also in most cases – and certainly in BackBlaze’s – offer unlimited storage. This means you will never have to worry about reaching a capacity limit no matter how many pictures, videos or music files you throw at it.
If you have any thoughts on cloud backup, or are a devotee of a particular service not mentioned in this article please do let me know.