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Backup: 7 Ways You Can Avoid Data Catastrophe

The average person stores a significant portion of their life digitally – everything from bank statements to personal photos. For those who are heavy computer users, that allocation grows more profound. When data is lost due to an unforeseeable circumstance, the consequences can be catastrophic. Without a secure backup method, data loss is often irreversible.

There are multiple factors to consider when deciding what form of backup is right for your business or your own personal use. Finding a balance that works for your own situation and habits is key. There are three general variables and two significant details that should be weighed:

Major Considerations:

Price: The price of various ways to back up data spans the spectrum. The standard rules do not apply in this area – more expensive does not necessarily mean perfect for you. The best thing to do is sort out exactly what you as a customer need and what your budget is. Don’t pay for services you are not going to take advantage of, but also remember to ensure that your assets are fully covered.
Security: Some systems of data backup are simply more secure than others. If you are planning to store or backup sensitive information, such as client information or your own financial documents, take that into consideration.
Convenience: Putting money toward a backup method that you never use because it does not fit your personal habits is as bad as not having a method at all. For example, if you are the type who works on the go or from multiple locations, an online service you can access from anywhere may be your best bet.

Details to Investigate

Backing up files only vs Creating drive images: Though many methods do a combination of these, it is important to decide which is better for your specific needs. Often, simply backing up one’s files is fine. However if you are using unique software that those files depend on, you should consider creating a full drive image – it may use more space, but absolutely everything, including software installs, will be saved.
Incremental backups vs Full backups: Incremental backups only backup files that have been changed; this is quick and great for those constantly updating work. Full backups take more time, but also do exactly what it sounds like: create a complete backup of all files. Again, figure out what works for you. A combination is recommended for the best results, such as a full backup once a week with incremental otherwise.
As to the how of all this data backup, there are several options available.

Backup Options

Optical Disks: Storing files or drive images on CDs or DVDs. Great for a way to physically store data but with the possibility of the disks themselves being damaged or lost.
Flash Drives: Storing on USB drives. Known also as flash, thumb, or jump drives, this option has the same advantages and disadvantages at storing on optical disk.
Tape: An older method and not commonly used in today’s tech market but still considered viable.
Internal Hard Drives: One major advantage is the price – internal hard drives are on a cheaper than their external counterparts per storage space size. In addition they are generally faster and easier to link together for a “larger” capacity drive. The disadvantages are the lack of easy portability and swapout, along with the very real possibility of being damaged by whatever causes the need to use a backup in the first place. (Example – lighting strike that causes a power surge of entire system.)
External Hard Drives: While a bit slower and slightly more expensive per amount of storage space than internal drives, these have the distinct advantages of portability and the factor of being distinct and separate from the system being backed up.
Network Storage Device: Devoted entirely to backup, these devices are larger and faster than the external hard drive on the whole. This option works well alone or in conjunction with other options such as an online service.
Online Services: There is a hefty benefit in storing data backups online – it means recovery is possible even in the event of an utter disaster locally. The caveat is of course that for the majority, using online services means putting their data into third party hands. However, with research finding a reliable company to suit the user’s needs is elementary. It should also be noted that using a third party has other indirect advantages. Often the security of online services surpasses anything the customer could afford alone and the convenience of these services helps prevent data loss due to forgetfulness or a harried work lifestyle.
Ultimately, the key point always in choosing a backup option is to actually do it. Finding what works for your own unique needs, budget, and habits is the best way to go from good intentions to a functional method. There are a myriad of possible choices; using multiple systems of data backup is an unarguably solid idea. Choosing not to backup however – well, to take a line from one society’s cliches, it’s true: You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.