When was the last time you backed up the files on your computer? Or at least, the files you value?
Backing up data may once have been something that the ordinary home user didn’t need to be concerned with too much. As long as your schoolwork was saved on a floppy disc, there wasn’t a great deal on your PC that had much importance for the average computer user.
How that has changed.
Backups are now more important than ever, and it remains something that many people either aren’t aware of, or don’t take seriously.
Computers are used for everything these days. Not only photos and videos, but paperless bank statements, e-books and our documents – both business and personal. Files are now much more likely to be stored digitally, than for a printed copy to be filed away.
Additionally, the capacity of hard drives has increased to a point where there is far less need to backup files onto a disc in order to free up space.
When I bought my first digital camera, my PC had just a 6GB hard drive. Image file sizes were smaller but I frequently ran out of space on my computer and had to copy everything onto CDs.
With hard drives of modern computers frequently above 250GB, there’s no need for such measures and many people would find that they could go a decade or more and still not fill a drive of that size. But think of how much information would be lost if that hard drive failed? How many thousands of photos – taken over a period of years – would be lost if the laptop they were on was stolen, or damaged beyond repair?
The easiest way to backup is onto an external hard drive. A 500Gb drive can be purchased for around £50 and for simply backing up photos, that would be a sufficient size drive for the majority of people. For added security, back everything up twice. If one drive fails, you’d still have a good copy stored somewhere else.
Compared to the past methods of having documents in paper form, music on CDs and photos printed, it can seem as though having everything stored on one hard disk of a computer is much less of a safe method of storing important information. But with multiple backups, it’s easy to see how technology can make things more secure. After all, without buying everything twice or photocopying every document we received, we would only ever have had the ability to have a single copy of any information or photos/videos of importance.
While technology can be of huge benefit, it isn’t without risk. Just as that TV or toaster of yours stopped working without any warning, so too could the hard drive inside your computer.
So if you haven’t yet backed up the years of holiday videos stored on your computer, or the baby photos of a close relative, make it one of your priorities to do it as soon as possible – before it’s too late!
Personally I think the “easiest way to backup” isn’t via external drive but to cloud storage. You have to pay a subscription but for about £100 for 3 years you can get unlimited storage offline. You can access files from anywhere and if your house catches fire, there’s no danger the external drive is also destroyed. You simply put a piece of software on your laptop and it will backup in the background and any new file saved will also be uploaded automatically… Simples!
Cloud based storage is a good option for some, but less so for others. Broadband speeds are faster than ever, but not everyone has high speed internet. Uploading 1Gb, let alone 50Gb or more, would be a long and slow process.
Should something go wrong and the user needed to download everything in order to have a local copy, it wouldn’t be much less painful to download everything again.
Other internet related issues include reliability and usage limits.
As you say, one major advantage of cloud storage is that if you suffer theft or fire damage, your data will still be safe. An alternative is to have a second external/portable backup drive stored with a family member or friend. It’s not the most practical thing but is at least an option for those who may be limited by their internet connection.
Thanks for your comments.