4 Easiest Ways to Back Up Your Files and Keep Them SafeUpdated: June 30, 2019
Backing up your files is crucial in today's world if you want to keep your data safe. Let's learn about the best and easiest ways to back up your data.
We store all kinds of information on our computers, from our favorite music to photographs and personal financial data.
You'd think that this data is safe by leaving only on our computers, but the reality is that anything can happen with our devices at any time. They can crash, break, or a cyber criminal can hack into them and damage all the files.
This makes backing up your files an important step of protecting your data.
Let's dig more deeply into why you should back up your data as soon as possible and what are the easiest methods to do it.
There's a misconception that only businesses must go through the hassle of backing up their files. Although businesses do indeed backup important data so they keep them safe, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it also.
If you store different types of data on your computer, such as photos, work or school presentations, banking details, you want to make sure they are safe. It's best to prevent losing your data instead of learning the importance of backing up the hard way.
The files we refer to when we talk about backing up your data represent all the digital files stored on your computer. They include everything you save and store, including the programs on your computer.
Files can get on your computer by:
- Downloading them online (e.g. music, movies)
- Creating them (e.g. a Word document or Power Point presentation)
- Transferring them to your computer (e.g. photos from your phone)
- Coming installed in your computer (e.g. the OS, programs)
Why should you back up your files
- Computers can crash - This doesn't happen as rarely as you might think, especially with older computers. Accidents can also happen, such as spilling that glass of water on your computer by mistake.
- Ransomware - Through ransomware, a cyber criminal gets access to your computer and encrypts all your files. You won't be able to access your own data anymore.
- Computer viruses - Hackers use various types of malware and viruses to get what they want, and some viruses can damage all the files on your computer.
Even though backing up files is an important part of protecting your personal data, it seems that most people are still confused about what backing up a computer really means or involves. Or, even if people have an idea about what backing up data is, they still don't get to do it because they feel too overwhelmed by the process.
But you should know that backing up your files is not such a difficult process and it will save you from losing your most important data if something should happen to your computer.
Also, you don't necessarily need to back up all and everything. Start with what's most important to you, such as work related documents, photographs, and personal data.
We'll go through the best ways to back up your files so you keep them safe.
One of the best ways to back up your data is to use an external hard drive.
When you save something on your computer, let's say a movie download online, it is stored on the internal hard drive of your computer. If something happens to that hard drive (like a crush or having our computer hacked), you can say goodbye to all the files it stores. Backing up the files on an external hard drive is a great alternative to make sure you'll never lose your data.
An external hard drive acts the same as the internal hard drive, the difference being that it is, well..external. Most external storage device these days are small, portable, and affordable. You can get an external hard drive of 1TB storage with as little as $60. And if you're willing to spend a little more, you can get up to 16TB storage. To put this into perspective, you can fit 85 million Word documents or 200,000 photos (taken with an 8px camera) in a 1TB storage.
To use an external hard drive, you must get a bit technical as it requires to install the right driver on your Windows PC. On Mac computers, yo can use the Time Machine application to back up the files on the external hard drive.
Cloud store has become more popular than ever. And with good reasons.
If your computer or external storage get stolen or destroyed in a fire, you won't be able to get your files back. Cloud services solve this vulnerability of physical storage methods by providing a place to back up your data that can't be physically damaged.
Cloud storage providers have huge servers where they allow you to store your files in exchange for a small fee. Most of them offer end-to-end encryption for your data so it is safe against hackers. What's best about cloud services is that you can access your files anytime, from anywhere and from any device.
The process to start using a cloud service is easy. You only have to sign up for an account. Many cloud storage provides offer you a free amount of space and they have cheap storage plans available in case you need more storage space to back up your files. After creating your account, you can easily upload the files you want to back up from your computer to the platform. You can also make a habit of using cloud storage as your primary place where you save different files, such as your photos. All you need to access your data is an internet connection and you can log in from any device.
Even though cloud storage provides encrypt your data and offer a level of security, you should still be careful when you choose your provider. Make sure the provider you pick is not new on the market because you can wake up with the company closing their doors and you losing the data you stored on their servers.
Some of the best cloud storage providers are Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox, Sync. There are also cloud services designed for specific types of files, such as Google Photos.
Flash drives are smaller versions of external hard drives. They are the size of a finger or even smaller and they can be easily carried on a key ring.
The flash drive connects to your computer by plugging it into the USB port and you can easily back up your files by copy-pasting them or drag and dropping. You can find cheap flash drives with storage space varying from 4GB up to 256GB. There are also 1TB flash drives, although they can get pretty costly.
The biggest downside of flash drives is that they are small and quite easy to misplace, lose, or damage so you must safely store your flash drives if you chose this method of backing up your files. Also, you should know that flash drives are susceptible to breaking down over time (a couple of years).
NAS stands for Network Attached Storage and it represents a mix of local storage (e.g. external hard drive) and cloud storage (e.g. Dropbox). It is mostly used by businesses and companies because, unlike an external hard drive that only allows one computer to connect to it at a time, a NAS allows multiple computers to connect to it as long as they are on the same network.
NAS devices are similar to external hard drives, but they usually come with built-in operating systems which add extra functions such as remote access and media streaming. They offer the same functionality as cloud storage services, but without the privacy and security concerns due to the fact that you're not handing your data to no provider.
Well, there's no simple answer to this question. As you've seen earlier, each method has its pros and cons and none of them is perfect.
To strongly protect your personal files, it's best that you choose two of these ways of backing up your data and use them together. This way, if one of the methods fail, you'll still have the other one to back you up.
For example, you can use cloud storage along with an external hard drive.
Choosing to backup your data on an external hard drive is one of the best practices for securing your data because the hard drive is not connected to the internet and no hacker or cybercriminal can have access to it, making your files safer.