Many years ago, I was a real pilot. Now I just "fly" computers. My avatar is from Flight Simulator. This is what short final really looks like!
By: DataPilot , 2:20 AM GMT on March 24, 2014
My prior blog posting included a couple of long-winded comments about a neighbor's recent run-in with Cryptolocker and the need for everyone to back up their computer's data regularly. I cringe a bit when I read through the posting now, since I seem to have done a better job at pontificating about backups than explaining how to do them. I hate it when I do that.
The purpose of this post is to rectify the situation. In the "Data on Data" series, I'm going to try to explain some of the backup options available and how they can be utilized to create a backup and restoration strategy that is effective for you. No two people use a computer in exactly the same way, so there is no one-size-fits-all strategy that works for everyone. Picking appropriate tools and using them in a way that aligns with your strategy is what you ultimately want to achieve.
First, a little background on me. I'm an IT professional, specializing in the management of large amounts of valuable data. Data is what I do, day in, day out. (I didn't name myself Data for nothing.)
Part of my job is ensuring that the data under my care is well protected, while at the same time keeping it as available as possible for legitimate work purposes. Those two diametrically-opposed goals can make my work very interesting - or maddening, depending on the day - but they can never be ignored. I bring up that point so that you, as the owner of your data, understand that you should keep both protection and accessibility in mind as you plan backup and restoration strategy.
Protection AND Accessibility? Backup AND Restoration? Huh? Isn't just making a backup good enough?
Well... yes and no. The important thing is that you keep all of those factors under consideration when you develop your backup strategy.
Notice that I called it a "backup strategy", not a "backup procedure". A backup procedure is a routine that you follow regularly. You just do it. Or, better yet, you automate it and let the computer do all the work. (We'll get back to that point later.) A backup strategy - or more accurately, a backup and restoration strategy - is the plan that you make to minimize loss of data due to unforeseen circumstances. Your backup procedure is just one part of your backup and recovery strategy.
For crying out loud, Data, you're making this backup thing awfully complicated. All I use my computer for is ordinary stuff. Why can't I just configure the backup program that came with my computer and be done with it?
Vendor-provided backups are one option, and in many cases, they're also the best option. In fact, if you haven't formulated your backup and recovery strategy yet, the vendor-provided software is an excellent place to start. It's always a heck of a lot better than nothing. Adopting a basic backup procedure is easy, but developing a full-blown backup and recovery strategy takes time. So let's do the easy part first.
If you haven't at least got basic backups in place for all of your computing devices - and by "computing devices", I mean "desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones" - do it now. Here are some handy links to help you get started. If your device isn't listed, Google for it. Information on "How to back up 'device X'"is usually not hard to find online.
Microsoft Windows 7 Backup
iCloud Backup (for iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices)
Samsung Galaxy Backup (Verizon)
Once you've gotten the basic vendor-provided backup procedure in place, we can talk about formulating your backup and recovery strategy. In my next blog posting, we'll discuss some of the options available, and how you can use them to your advantage.
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