Why should I back up data on my computer?

Information or data on your computer could be lost, if:

  • The hard drive in your computer fails
  • The data on your computer is corrupted for a variety of reasons
  • Your computer is lost or stolen
  • Your computer is in a fire or other environmental event
  • A virus infects your computer and deletes or corrupts your files

Consider the inconvenience of having to recreate all of the information stored on your computer – how much of it is important to you, your education or professional career – and how much of it might actually be irreplaceable.

What should I back up?

Back up any information that is important to you. Consider not only the documents folders where you store the files you create, but also your Web browser bookmarks, contacts databases, and files stored on your desktop.

  • You should consider making a daily back up of any critical files that you are working on.
  • You may find it helpful to make a backup copy of files that you are creating as you work on them.

It’s generally not practical or appropriate to back up copies of programs you have installed, but you should always make sure you keep the installation disks or files. This way, you will be able to reinstall programs that you own, if your computer is reimaged or replaced.

How should I back up my data?

There are a number of ways to back up your data. They generally fall into three categories: backing up to the network, backing up to an external disk or drive, and using a third party back up service.

Backing up to the network (within your business): This is the recommended way to back up important files. Most established businesses will have a ‘file server’ with an area configured where they can store files not intended to be shared with others. This would be a secure location.

These secure locations are recommended back up locations for a variety of reasons:

  • Access to these drives is restricted to authorized accounts.
  • All the data on these drives is backed up to backup server/tape drive (assuming business applies best practice).
  • These locations should be available from anywhere via a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection.
  • Tip: At the end of each day that you have worked on an assignment, consider uploading the document to Google Drive, or e-mailing a copy of the file to yourself. This way, the current version will be backed up in a secure location, and also available to you whether you are in or out of the office. Of course, always comply with Data Protection Law and any other policies that your business may require you to adhere to.

Backing up to an external disk or drive

There are a variety of types of external drives, such as CD or DVD burners, which can write your data to a disk for backup. Additionally, USB drives come in a variety of sizes; some very small and portable, some too big to carry in your backpack every day. The larger USB drives are a generally reliable option for backing up your data. However, the smaller thumb or flash drives are only recommended for temporary storage of data, such as carrying information from home to office or client for a presentation. These drives fail frequently and are not recommended for long term storage.

Using a third party back up service

A quick Web search for “Internet backup service” will provide you with a number of results, both companies providing the service as well as articles reviewing these services. Third party solutions would not be recommended for company proprietary or sensitive data, as there would be requirements for storing sensitive data. However, you may find a third party service useful for backing up your personal data, such as your digital photo or music collection.

How frequently should I back up my data?

You should back up your data as soon as you have created enough new files or changes to existing files that it would be difficult to recreate them, if lost. We recommends backing up individual files daily if you are saving to the local drive of your computer.

What else can I do to prevent data loss other than backing up my data?

Many home users, businesses & educational faculties choose laptops because of their mobility, but they are also more vulnerable to loss or theft. We offers the following suggestions to protect your computer equipment:

  • Never leave your laptop unattended, even for a minute.
  • Use a cable lock mechanism to secure your laptop to an immobile piece of furniture.
  • Install laptop recovery software.
  • Talk to your home insurance representative about covering your laptop through your home insurance policy.
  • Always lock your room, office, or car when you leave.
  • Never leave valuables in plain view.