Can you believe it’s been two months already? I did say I’d do these monthly, but that hasn’t worked out. So here is the next one: Huh? So I actually need a backup?
Why ask this question? It’s good to ask yourself a few questions about backups before you actually need one (it’s normally too late by then). Inevitably computers, phones and laptops break, and when they do, if you care at all about what’s on there, you’ll need a backup. Ask yourself: if this device/service I’m using breaks right now, will I care?
Here’s a common conversation I have with people:
Nerd: “So do you need a backup? Is there anything on here you care about?”
Regular Person: “No, I’ll just get a new computer/phone.”
Nerd: “So what about your photos? Emails? Business documents? Contacts?”
Regular Person: “Ohhh… yeah, I need those.”
Having a backup means more than just getting you working again, it means continuing without loss. Sometimes you can recover your stuff after you’ve lost it, but its risky, and often expensive (I know someone who spent $1000+ getting their family holiday photos back off their broken computer. Guess what? They didnt have backups…)
The other situation is where someone thinks they have a backup, but they don’t really. Here are a few examples of how to spot a bad backup:
“I have a backup,
- everything is sync’d to Dropbox”
- its that Windows 8/10 backup and I just leave my HDD plugged in”
- I copied everything off my phone to my computer before I deleted it”
- I copied everything off my computer to a HDD before I deleted it”
And here’s why those are all bad examples. They either synchronise changes, or you still only have one copy.
In scenario one, if you accidentally delete something, or you get a virus that infects your files, guess what? Your software will synchronise those changes too. You might be able to get your data back, but you don’t really want a backup that might work? The same applies if you just leave your backup HDD connected.
In scenario two, you still only have one copy. And if that copy breaks, guess what? You have no backup.
So then how should you do your backups? The three things to think of are frequency, method and reliability.
For frequency, how often should you backup? Ask yourself “if I lost some of my work and I had to redo it, what length of time would make it unbearable?” For example, if you had to redo a months’ worth of work, would that be too much? If so, you need backups that are more frequent.
For the method, it varies on whether you’re backing up just one computer or multiple, what kind of internet connection you have, whether you’re a home user or a business. What I’d suggest is that you get someone in to evaluate your setup and recommend a solution for you. If it’s just the one computer, generally getting a HDD to plug in and proper backup program should do the trick.
For reliability, the easiest way to describe this is “test your backups”. Is it too hard to get stuff back? Can you actually go far enough back? This is something you should do when you’re not in the middle of a computer emergency. Actually test your backups every 6 months to a year if you can.
So…how do your backups measure up? Have you tested them lately? Maybe it’d be worth working out, and if you’re not sure how your current setup works for you, it’d be a good idea to get someone in to work it out for you.