Friday, May 16, 2014

Backup Your Files

If the burglary of our home (including our laptops) has taught me one thing, it's this: it's a good idea to backup your files, and frequently. Consider this a "public service announcement".

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to do this. For instance, there are many online "cloud storage" options out there nowadays, including from Google (Google Drive) and Microsoft (OneDrive, formerly SkyDrive). Benefits: accessible anywhere, automatic backups, Google and Microsoft aren't particularly likely to lose your data. (I'm not as confident in some of the smaller companies offering "cloud storage" that are out there.) Drawbacks: someone can theoretically hack into your account, and you only get so much free space.

Or, you can get an external hard drive or thumb drive. I recently discovered that Windows 8.1 has a feature called "File History" that will automatically backup your stuff to an external physical hard drive (or a network drive) automatically without you having to do anything. And, compared to cloud storage, you only have to pay an upfront cost (for the drive) as opposed to a monthly fee (for additional OneDrive or Google Drive storage). That's all well and good, but of course, if a fire burns down your house, your external drive isn't going to be any more likely to survive than your primary storage is. (I think larger external drives are better for this than "thumb drives" - thumb drives are more expensive, and are easier to lose, not to mention steal.)

Perhaps the best way to go is a combination of all of these things: some level of "cloud storage", some level of physical backups in your possession (or in possession of a friend), weighing all of the security concerns with the need for redundancy. For security reasons, I'm not going to say exactly what I do; suffice to say, I did perform some level of file backup before, but I can, and will, do a lot better from now on.

Backup your files!

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