Growing cyber threats like ransomware mean it has never been more important to back up your data. Fortunately, it has never been easier to provide yourself with a bulletproof plan for safeguarding your customers and company data against cybercriminals or some sort of catastrophic hardware or software failure.
By following just a few simple steps you’ll be able to ensure that, should the worst happen, you can get back up and run with as little data loss as possible in no time at all. Here’s an infographic to help you remember them. So without further ado…
Storing data in one place only is just not good enough. All security experts agree that the 3-2-1 rule is the only way that you can guarantee that your data is truly protected. The 3-2-1 rule involves having 3 copies of all the data you want to back up. The original copies, a physical back up on an external hard-drive and a virtual backup on a cloud-based service. With such backups in place, the only way you’d lose any of your data is if something truly apocalyptic happened. And if that’s the case, data is probably the least of your worries.
Physical Hard Copies
There have never been more options for cost-effective high capacity external hard drives. Desktop USB external hard drives offer the most cost-effective solution. About 4TB of space on an external hard drive will cost about $100. Portable hard drives cost a little more but they are smaller units and don’t require a separate power supply. Other options include USB pens and SD cards although storage capacity will be limited on these much smaller options.
It is now easier than ever to get yourself set up with a cloud-based storage service that will automatically backup any important files. Furthermore, if you have strong passwords, files that are stored in reliable cloud services will be some of the most secure files you have. Google offers 15GB of free space via their Google Drive program and once you’re set up all you have to do is save everything you want backing up in your Google Drive folder and it’ll automatically be backed up to the Google Cloud.
If 15GB isn’t enough then Google offer paid subscription services; 100GB for $20 a year, 1TB for $100 a year or $100 a month for 10TB. There are cheaper services available with Blackblaze offering unlimited storage for $50 a year and Carbonite and Crashplan offering similar plans for $59 a year.
What Needs Backing up?
With 3 copies, including the originals, all important files should now be protected. The big question now is. Which files are important and consequently which files need backing up.
With Windows, it is possible to create a backup image of the whole system. This will include the operating system and all of the data held on it. These system images require a lot of space and require a Windows recovery drive, which will need a dedicated USB pen with at least 8GB capacity.
To ensure that the most recent data is protected system images should be created every couple of months but this still leaves up to 2 months’ worth of vulnerable data. Creating a full system image may not be necessary, however, and could be akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It might be much more suitable to…
Backup Important Files Only
Is there a need to restore everything back exactly the way it was? For example, programs and system files might already have backups via their original hard copy and will simply need reinstalling. Personal files will need protecting the most.
Each Windows user has a dedicated user folder, which is easy to find, that contains all of their personal files. Contacts, Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos and even Saved Games are here. Backing up this dedicated Windows user folder regularly to a physical hard drive and a cloud-based storage service will safeguard the most important data on the computer.
A few extra things to remember
After the backup is complete, it is important to keep the physical copy disconnected from the computer. This will protect the backups from potential harm should something happen to the originals or the PC.
It is also important to make sure that the chosen backup process is as simple as possible to make sure you do it as often as you should. The Windows Back up tool is good and can be automated but there are better ones out there. Crashplan in particular offer unlimited cloud-based storage plus the ability to automate the backup process to the cloud but also to a physical hard drive, even if you disconnect the hard drive between backups.