If you don't back up the files and programs on your personal or your company's computers and mobile devices, you are living on borrowed time. A loss from a major computer crash, physical damage to your computer or your premises or infection by virus, Trojan, spyware, malware, ransomware or other bad-ware is not a matter of if, but when. Backing up your personal or company’s files and programs should be conducted as a matter of due diligence. A number of backup options exist for both computers and mobile devices. One or more of more of the backup options listed below may represent the right solution for you and your company.
Features to Look For
The best backup solution for your company depends on its individual needs. For instance, if your company only uses desktop computers and no mobile devices, in-house backup provides maximum privacy. However, if you need ready access to your personal or company files away from the office, or if your company makes liberal use of mobile devices, a stationery backup system won’t do the job.
- Portability and Accessibility: The best backup system in the world is of little use if your files are not readily accessible. A combination of a network backup (for multiple computers), a portable hard drive (or high-capacity flash drives) and ready off-site access to individual files (in addition to full restore function) are all desirable features in a backup system.
- Capacity: If you have a large backup set, or need to back up several devices, a backup option with generous capacity is a must. Multiple external drives or a very large single external drive (think multiple terabytes of storage capacity), with files categorized by device is one option. If you opt for offsite storage, choose a service that with generous (ideally unlimited) storage options, the option to back up several devices, or both. Be prepared to pay extra money for very high storage capacity.
- Security: Whether you opt for on-site or offsite storage, maximizing security is a must. With an onsite system, limiting access to dedicated IT staff (if your company has an IT department) or a designated individual minimizes the risk of unauthorized access. If you opt for offsite storage, it goes without saying that you should choose a reputable company that follows industry-standard encryption and security protocols.
Computer Backup Options
Many experts recommend utilizing multiple backup options for your personal or company computer data – combining onsite with offsite storage. This may seem excessive; however, adhering to this strategy maximizes accessibility in case of a computer crash (through files stored onsite) with recoverability for computer loss through disaster or theft (through offsite storage).
- Secondary Internal Drives: Setting up a secondary internal drive requires a fair amount of computer know-how. However, this type of setup represents the easiest means of retrieving one or several files that may have been inadvertently deleted or corrupted.
- External Hard Drives and/or Flash Drives: External hard drives or flash drives can easily back up some or all of your computer’s files. However, they are pone to eventual failure or infection by malware. Theft and loss (especially with flash drives) is also a significant risk.
- Networked Backup: If your company has several computers connected to a single network, a networked backup provides ready access to one or all of your company’s essential files and data. However, an onsite networked backup is vulnerable to infection by viruses and other malware, as well as loss due to a fire or other damage to the premises.
- Cloud-Based Backups: Offsite backup options minimize the risk of infection by viruses or loss from physical damage. However, security and privacy of personal or financial data are legitimate concerns. If you or your company must back up sensitive data online, paying extra for HIPAA-compliant or similar security level offsite storage is money well spent.
Mobile Backup Options
Many people who are diligent about backing up desktop and laptop computers nonetheless neglect to back up their mobile devices. However, if anything, mobile devices are more prone than computers to loss, theft or physical damage. Backing up data from mobile devices also makes it easier to transfer data from old devices to new ones.
- Native Backup: Both Android and iOS have native backup options, iCloud for iOS devices and the Backup and Reset paired with synching data with a Google ID. However the free storage allotment for iCloud is limited and paid options can be expensive, especially if multiple handsets are involved. Android’s native backup option requires a Google ID, which can be created for free. Both options involve trusting either Apple or Google with your data.
- Internal Memory Cards: Adding memory is only an option for Android devices – iOS devices have no available slots for added memory. Using an internal memory card in an Android device presents similar drawbacks as adding a second internal hard drive to your computer: vulnerability to malware, crashes or loss due to damage or theft.
- Third-Party Apps: Third party apps and services are available to back up mobile devices as well as computers. Some, such as iDrive, Carbonite and Backblaze allow coordination between multiple devices, which can be very convenient. Costs vary according to how many devices are connected, the size of the storage allotment and whether HIPAA-compliant or similar encryption is required.
Computer Backup: Many people back up their mobile devices to their computers. This option is inexpensive and convenient, provided your computer hard drive has sufficient storage. However, mobile data stored on a computer hard drive is subject to the same risks as computer data stored on a hard drive. A safer option would be to offload stored mobile data onto an external hard drive that is not connected to the internet and stored offsite.