How Important Is Backing Up Your Data?

Even though we’ve all heard the horror stories about computer’s crashing and years of important data being lost, many of us still don’t back up our computer systems. As a tech expert who receives hundreds of questions and requests for advice pertaining to technology per week, there’s nothing that terrifies me more than to hear that someone isn’t backing up. Backing up your data is a bit like purchasing insurance, you hope that you’ll never need to fall back on it but if that day comes, you know it will be worth it. By the same token, you hope that your computer will never crash but if it does, you know all that data is safely backed up.

Not convinced yet? Think about all of those family photos or important tax information you have saved on your computer’s hard drive. It goes without saying that you don’t want anything to happen to those items and if your computer crashed, it would be devastating to lose them.

So, now that we’ve firmly established that you need to back up your data, what are your options?

Option 1: External Hard Drives

Your first option for backing up your valuable data is an external hard drive. An external hard drive is very much like the hard drive that lives inside your computer…It just happens to live outside of it and connect via USB.

External hard drives come in a variety of sizes and it will be up to you to decide what’s appropriate based on what you’re storing. Generally speaking, most users will be happy with a 1 or 2TB drive. If you’re planning on storing a lot of media, such as movies and music, you might want to take a look at something on the larger side. Ask for some help from the associates at your local Staples location, they should be able to help you choose the right size drive for your needs.

In terms of brands and models, some of my favourites include: Seagate Backup Plus Slim, Western Digital My Passport Ultra, and Western Digital My Passport Slim.

Option 2: The Cloud

Backing up to the cloud is another convenient option and the nice thing about this option is that the backups are housed outside of your home. This means that if something were to happen to your home—a fire, for example—you’d still be able to retrieve your data. There are several cloud services that will store your data safely.

Using a cloud service to backup your data typically requires you to pay a yearly subscription fee which is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that having your data stored safely brings. If the idea of backing up to the cloud appeals to you, check out CrashPlan.

Option 3: Network Attached Storage (NAS)

The third option for backing up files is investing in a Network Attached Storage, or NAS, device. The great thing about NAS devices is that they allow you to centralize your home’s data storage and give all the users on your network access to it. For example, I have an extensive media library stored on my NAS device so that my kids and my wife can access all our movies or music from their own devices. Having this NAS device also gives me peace of mind because I can set automatic backups to run on every computer in the house. Regardless of whether or not my kids remember to plug in a hard drive to backup their systems, I know their school projects are safely backed up on the NAS.

Network Attached Storage devices can be a bit pricier than the other options I mentioned, but they are certainly worth it if you have a few computers on your network.  If you’re thinking about investing in an NAS device, check out one of these: QNAP TS-212 Turbo NAS Server, LaCie CloudBox, Buffalo LinkStation Duo.

No matter what backup method you decide to use, I guarantee you’ll sleep better knowing that all your precious data is safe. I would even recommend combining one of the at-home backup solutions with a cloud solution. As our parents always told us, you can never be too careful.

By Mike Agerbo

May 13, 2014