I’ve been in IT for a very long time, but at my first job in IT I made a huge mistake. Someone came into my office stating that they couldn’t get to the files on the server. I checked, and I couldn’t get to them either. After I dug into it a bit more, I could see that the data was gone. We had to pay $11,000 to a data recovery company to get the company’s files back.
It was a moment in my life that I will never forget, and from that day on, I have been a stickler about backups. I don’t care what kind of backups they are, if there is data, I make sure it’s being backed up.
Many home users will think this doesn’t really apply to them. They aren’t running million dollar companies, and don’t really have a need for backups. They could not be more wrong!
It’s true that home users don’t have the important data that businesses do, but what they DO have is data that is important to them. Pictures of your child’s birth, contact information for long lost friends, that awesome flyer you made for a PTA meeting, many of these things can be irreplaceable pieces of data that should be backed up.
I can’t even begin to tell you how often I STILL see people saying they need contact information from people because their phone was damaged. There are so many different ways to backup your pictures and other data, that no one should ever lose another piece of data again!
Cloud Services to Backup Your Pictures
There are a lot of services in the cloud to choose from these days, many of which actually perform different functions.
You can have a cloud account with an app or piece of software that will keep your data safe in the event of a crash. If my Google account will keep all of my contacts and calendar safe and secure, or my budgeting app Mvelopes will keep all of my budgeting and financial information safe if my phone or computer were to die.
All you need to do to get your data back is to log back into your account. Your transactions or contacts or whatever else will automatically download back to your device.
Files and photos can use a storage service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. I use a combination of the 3, but I mostly use Dropbox. I have all of my documents and important files stored in Dropbox.
If my computer dies, I just login to Dropbox and all of my files will return. I also have Dropbox installed on my phone. Anytime I take a photo it is automatically uploaded to Dropbox. This is also a feature with most of the other applications like Google Drive and OneNote. Even Amazon offers free photo storage for Prime members.
I recommend you try each of them for a bit and decide for yourself which cloud file system you prefer. Sometimes it even comes with some free storage, but if you want to backup your pictures, and you have a ton, you may end up paying a monthly fee.
If you don’t want to pay a cloud service, or you have a ton of data to backup, you may be interested in doing a local backup instead. Local backups are just like it sounds. You would be backing up to a device that is in your house.
My warning with local backups is many people will back up their data to a single hard drive and store it in a closet. Years later they pull that hard drive out to check out the data or photos. They discover that the hard drive has failed. This is a VERY regular occurrence. External hard drives are notorious for failing frequently.
Relying on just one external drive to backup your pictures is a terrible idea. Over time hardware degrades, especially if it lays dormant. What I prefer to do is the backup to a NAS.
NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. Usually, these devices will have multiple hard drives inside in what is called a RAID. When one drive in the device fails, you can pull the failed drive out and replace it with a new one. The data will resync with the new drive and you will be back up and running.
Without this redundancy built into a backup device, you will be reliant on a single drive that will most certainly fail eventually. I really like the Netgear ReadyNAS devices. They are really easy to set up and configure, and you can be backing your data up in no time.
The Rule of 3
In the IT world, we like to use the rule of 3 when talking about backups. The rule states that you should have 3 copies of your data at all times. One is the original, one is the backup and one is a backup of the backup, stored in another location. Using a combination of cloud and local backups will allow you to follow this rule.
The rule allows for 2 points of failure. If your house burns down and destroys your local backup and your original, you can rely on the cloud copy. On the other hand, if the cloud company suffers a major disaster or outage, you still have your local backup.
Any piece of data you think might be important to you, make sure you have a backup! You won’t be sorry you have a backup. However, I can promise you if you don’t have a backup and disaster strikes, you will definitely be sorry.
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Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com