Today is World Backup Day. March 31st is your annual reminder to backup your data so you don’t lose everything.
One of the common mistakes that I see even highly educated people making is keeping their files in only one location. You might have told them that they should have a backup somewhere because if their hard drive dies, all of their files could go with it. They take it to heart and move their files to a USB drive. Unfortunately, the same issue exists. With only a single copy of an important file, you are relying on that single device not failing or getting lost.
The more backups the better. Having the files on your hard drive and copying a backup to a USB is a better practice than just having the file on only one of those devices. If your hard drive dies, it can be replaced and reimaged with an operating system. You can then restore your files from your USB drive so you again have them in two places. If you lose your USB drive, you can create another backup copy from the files on your hard drive. You are mitigating your exposure to both devices being unavailable at the same time.
Obviously, you can improve this by having even more places to backup your data. Having backup copies on multiple USB drives would give you greater reliability that you will be able to find a copy of your data should your primary storage fail. This would create a lot of overhead though. When you make a change to the original file, you need to update your backup copy on each USB drive.
Even with all of those copies, it may not do you much good if all of them were in a single location and a fire or tornado went through. This brings into the discussion on-site and off-site storage. On-site storage is usually cheaper because they’re in your location. You might backup to a USB drive or a NAS that provides redundancy to a single failed drive but if they’re in the same location, you still run some risk that would hamper your disaster recovery. Off-site storage has become significantly more affordable thanks to technological improvements and competition in the cloud. There are plenty of options to investigate to protect your photos, videos, documents, and the rest of your files, such as:
- You can setup your own service like Dropbox with ownCloud on a hosted server.
- You could also take advantage of services like Amazon’s AWS Glacier which provides very cheap archive storage where it costs more to retrieve your data than it does to upload it and store it there. I’ve configured a Synology NAS to automatically backup to AWS Glacier and it has worked great for a few dimes each month.
- You can install software like Duplicati on your computer to coordinate your backup to different cloud services.
- A well-reviewed paid service for backups is CrashPlan.
With those options, you can find one that fits your budget and your data but at least do something with this reminder on World Backup Day.