Ways to Securely Back Up Your DataUpdated: March 02, 2019
There are a lot of ways to securely back up your data. There is also a lot of information that you should secure in the first place.
Backup data is no other things than a copy of your most beloved information. This copy is kept safe, somewhere else than where you normally save your data.
- Backup data refers to multiple types of data:
- Smartphone and mobile devices data;
- Data from your computer (files, folders, documents);
- Written documents;
- Whole website data.
Having your data in just one place, the one that you normally use isn’t safe at all. There are so many situations that can happen, causing the loss of your data, often forever. Here are some causes that can make you think to back up your data:
- Malware and viruses;
- Natural disasters;
- Errors and malfunctions;
- And many others.
I mentioned above what type of data you can back up, so let’s further explain why should you back up, using all of the above causes of losing the data you have.
Nowadays smartphones almost have a default function of backing up. I don’t think I used my phone without backing up. It’s something that keeps me at peace: if something was to happen to my phone, I would at least have all of my data back.
With a smartphone, you have two options of backing up your data: either automatically/manually in a cloud service, either manually, on your computer.
Why should you back up your data? It’s pretty easy to answer. Just think of all the situations you’ve heard during your lifetime:
- Somebody stole a smartphone;
- Dropping a phone in water;
- Updating the software;
- Malware and viruses;
- Big software errors (that can, for example, make your battery blow up).
Each of this situation is irremediable. You’ll not be able to get back your data. The only solution is to back it up constantly.
If you don’t care about losing photos, messages, contacts, and other types of data, then you should be fine. But I’ve rarely heard of someone like you, to be honest. Most of us keep not only data mentioned before, but also personal information that shouldn’t be lost. Of course, in this case (personal information) you should also try to secure your smartphone as well as you can.
I remember that back when social media wasn’t born, losing all of your contacts was the hardest part. You didn’t have an alternative to reach those people - only by phone. So losing their phone number meant that you’d have to wait for them to contact you again, in order to keep in touch. Otherwise, you’d be able to chat only if you were to meet by coincidence. That’s if you didn’t have common friends.
In present days, smartphones require either an iCloud account, either a Google account. Both big companies offer you some free space, in order to automatically do your smartphone’s backup. So, to back up your smartphone, you can set it to automatically upload a basic backup in the cloud.
Otherwise, you can periodically connect your smartphone to your computer, and save a backup. In case you want to further back up, you can save it in the cloud or on your external hard drive (see the next part).
Companies should do these smartphone backups regularly. There could be important messages from clients, notable contact details and so on. In case they don’t have the required budget (companies of 2-10 people can still use a free cloud service, but the bigger ones might need a subscription), they can ask their employees to back up their smartphone on their computer.
Computer data is something more complex. Working daily on your laptop can bring up loads of new data that may or may not be in need of a backup.
Most of the time, the data that you should back up from a computer is:
- Files and important documents; don’t be tempted to throw in a backup all of your files, because you’ll never need some of them;
- Saved games;
- Apps and software - this is not actually a backup, it’s more of a list of apps and software that you had installed on your computer. Software can’t be transferred from one computer to another because it requires an installation process. But it will be extremely helpful to have a list of all the apps you had.
Laptops and computers are powerful enough. Most of the time, the hard drive that’s inside your computer can be easily transferred to another computer, without losing the data. There’s one condition on this: always use the D:/ partition to save your important files and documents. Usually, the C:/ partition gets erased along with the operating system.
There are numerous cases when the “thing” that crashed and made your heart explode of worriness was the operating system. There are also cases when other computer components broke, leaving the hard drive safe and sound.
But what if your computer gets stolen? If some natural disaster comes and ruins everything? If you stupidly click on that link you’re not supposed to and you get a powerful virus that erases everything?
You won’t be able to get your data back! Only if you were cautious enough to do regular backups of your hard drive.
Backing up your computer or laptop should be a well-established process:
- Do it regularly: once every few days, once a week, or whatever time frame suits your needs;
- Do it immediately after you save something important. In this case, you can just back up the specific file/folder.
- Most of the time, backing your data up is done using 2 main ways:
- Cloud back up;
- External drive back up.
It all comes to how much space do you have, how easily you want to access the backups, and your budget.
Computer data backups take up much more space than smartphones ones. Hence, you should either:
- Have a cloud service with big storage (those usually come with higher prices on subscriptions);
- Purchase an external hard drive with, again, sufficient space. These can be pricey, too, but I believe that nowadays they are much more affordable. Especially if you want to buy one for personal use.
The ways of backing up your computer data can be applied to both personal and professional life.
It’s self-implied that companies should pick the method that best suits their amount of data. Most of the time, big companies choose cloud services because they are more flexible and cheaper. In case something happens with the company’s building, their data will be untouched.
Of course, some wonder about privacy matters, the malware and of the Internet threats. Usually, for big amounts of data, the cloud service companies offer an automatic backup of the backup, simply put.
Some companies even use both methods: one backup is on site, on a physical hard drive (big one), and another is in the cloud. Again, it all comes to the company’s needs and budget.
For your personal life, backing your computer data shouldn’t be that expensive. One external hard drive of let’s say 5TB should cover a lot of years of documents. I, personally use a 1TB external hard drive for old photos, school documents, and various others, and I still have plenty of space on it.
It is true that nowadays we love to have our backups closely and easily accessible. That is why you can use Google Photos to keep all of your smartphone photos in a sort of a backup. There’s also Google Drive, Dropbox, and many other cloud services that can help you not only have a backup but also easily access your computer data. Compared to an external hard drive, having your documents in the cloud means that you’ll eliminate the possible situation of losing the drive (theft, broken or misplaced).
Of course, you can do both: use an external hard drive as well as a cloud service to keep your computer data.
Compare the costs and the benefits of each other, and choose what’s perfect for you.
The world still has physical documents. A lot of them. Of course, for some, their actual value can’t be replaced by a copy of any kind, but backing them up is far better than not doing it.
Companies are required to keep documents for a number of years. This means that if they keep them in improper conditions, or if something like a natural disaster occurs, they will have some problems.
It is a good idea to have a kind of a system, a process that every employer should do: whenever they receive an important document, they should back it up, and keep the backup in another designated place.
The same idea is applied to freelancers, too.
In your personal life, you are not required to keep documents. Still, you should do it just in case. Of course, there are other types of physical documents that you should back up. These are warranties, invoices, employer contracts, birth certificate, important diplomas, IDs and other similar ones.
No matter if you’re a company, a freelancer, or if it’s your personal life, there are 2 main ways to back up your physical data, by establishing a process/ a habit of:
Making a xerox copy of the document exactly when you get the document, and keep it in a safe place.
Taking a picture, or scanning every piece of important document you receive, right at the moment you get it. Make a subtle mark on the specific document, so that in case you forget that you backed it up, you’ll just look at it and you’ll know.
Upload the photos into the cloud, or save them on your computer, or do both.
This part mostly refers to companies and freelancers.
Most companies have a website where they present or sell something. Freelancers usually use platforms, hence they don’t have to worry that much about backing up their website data.
Still, freelancers can think of always saving their blog articles of other editorial text on their computer or cloud, too. It’s not a clever idea to have all that content saved only on the platform, as some bad situations can occur:
- The company behind the platform can enter bankruptcy
- The servers can be attacked and broken.
- Whatever you write, keep it in a local place, too.
Regarding companies, the website data is much more complex. It doesn’t include only editorial content, but a whole code, as well.
There are two main situations that can lead to a partial or total loss of website data:
Servers crashing. The whole website information is on a server, cloud or local. If something happens to that servers, the whole website data can be lost, sometimes forever, and it will not be an easy thing to manage.
Updates or other modifications that are made without having a staging version. Websites need improvement constantly. If you want to update it, you should to it on a staging version - a copy of the website, that lets you test your modifications before launching them. In this case, you’ll know if something goes wrong, and it will not be on the live website. It will give you an opportunity to not screw the whole website up, but to test it out first.
Most websites have an automatic backup. Some of them have a mirror backup server, that can replace the main server when something happens to it. This savvy solution will keep your website from crashing, and not letting customers and visitors check it out.
Either way, you can opt for a local server where you can manually or automatically backup all of your website (and I mean all of it). Or you can use a cloud service that’s specialized in keeping this kind of data (they should have powerful servers).
All of those backups that I mentioned need to have at least some small level of security. OTherwise, your work might be in vain. For each type of backup data there’s a solution, so let’s dive deeper into this matter.
Smartphone data contains lots and lots of information, from messages to Health data, from accounts to photos. In case you don’t want to lose any of this data, the recommendation is that you do a daily backup in your cloud account (Google or Apple).
The truth is that this cloud backup is, as far as I know, less complete than the full backup done on the computer. Hence, you should also perform a backup for your smartphone on the computer, at a regular interval of time.
Nonetheless, each one of your backups should be protected and secured. The backup done on the computer will be part of the computer data, so we’ll leave this for the next part of the article.
The cloud smartphone backup is something to which you can’t do much in order to secure it. It’s the whole account that should be protected at all times, as long with the full smartphone.
As I’ll mention later, nowadays most of the account (at least those where you keep lots of data) have the two-factor authentication. This also goes for the accounts that you’re using to access your smartphone:
- Google - a Gmail account (or email) that will be used to access the whole range of Google apps;
- Apple - a iCloud account which is necessary to use a iPhone, along with all of the Apple services.
Each one of these types of accounts will recommend (or make) you use the two-factor authentication for security reasons. So let's put all the ways of securing your smartphone backup data in a list.
- Use the two-factor authentication method
- Don’t let anyone use/know your account’s password
- Periodically change your password, making sure you’ll remember it
- Secure your computer backup data
- Backing up your whole computer data can be a bit
- Secure your website backup data
Think that you whole website is one of your most important assets that your company has. Not only because it is your way of working with your clients aka making money, but also because you have there numerous sensitive information: clients’ data, sales and others.
It would also be difficult to recollect all the website data if something was to happen to it. So backing your website data should be a constant process, not just a one-time only situation.
You may have secured your website using various methods. But what about your website backup? How can you securely back it up?
Similar to backing the data up, securing this data is a process, too. Think of it as a chain with multiple link: there’s the person who manages the website, including backups and securization, there are the connections and then there are the servers.
Take each “link” and ask yourself: is this secure enough?
1.Who has access to the website data and backups?
Nowadays, most companies have more than one person that keep their websites up and going.
Be careful to whom you give access to. Every single website has the possibility of giving full-access to one person, and to the others limited access, based on what they’re doing.
In this way you’ll be sure that in case something happens, you’ll know exactly where to focus your attention. In case everyone that manages your website has full-access, then it would be difficult to analyze and repair situations.
2. Keep your backups on a different server
It’s basic knowledge: never keep your backups in the same place as your original content. No matter if we’re talking about computer, smartphone, personal or professional data.
Therefore, as a company, you should have access to your hosting server, where your website is; then you should have another server (cloud or whatever you prefer).
3. Make use of notifications and logs
As your primary hosting server has notifications, your backup designated server shouldn’t be less. Notifications are there to rapidly inform you of any kind of change.
Maybe some of your employees has access to the backup server, and modifies something by mistake. The admin, who has access to all of the website data, should be instantly informed.
In case the admin somehow missed the notification, logs come to rescue. The admin will see who changed and what, and he can talk to that person to see what was the reason.
4. Backup automatically and regularly
The website backup should be done automatically. Human error of “forgetting to do a backup” can happen a lot more than you would expect.
Putting in place an automatic backup can save you valuable time and resources. This can come along with notifications: in case there is an error at backup up the data, you’ll know right away. You’ll be able to solve it in no-time; or at least be aware that your website isn’t correctly backed up.
5. Multiple authentication methods
You may have noticed that in the last years, most of the services (social media, cloud services, and various other account based website) have started using two-factor authentication.
This is a way of having more control to your accounts, keeping them more secure.
So if you’re doing this on a, let’s say, lower level, why shouldn’t you do it on a higher one? Your whole website backup, as it is kept somewhere else than your hosting, should have at least a two-factor authentication.
If someone would be trying to get into the backup server, you can be notified by receiving a code on your phone. You will know that there shouldn't be someone that wants to enter the server, hence you can quickly act and secure the...area. One password may be easier to hack, but having also a one-time code will for sure minimize the damage the hacker can do.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to securely back up your data; I wasn't lying you when I said that in the first part of the article. There is also a lot of information that you should secure in the first place.
For companies, it is better to secure and safely back up everything. In you personal life, take some time to think: what really need to be backed up; I'm sure you don't have vast amounts of back up space, so keep only the important stuff.