Backups Are Your Best Friend … Except for your dog.

This will be a multi-part blog about the best practices for backing up your data.  It will cover what to backup, backup methods, and finally, other issues associated with backups. 

Let’s start with the basics.  If you don’t back up your computer (and possibly your phone, tablet, or other devices), you are playing with fire. Computer failure, theft, malicious viruses, user error etc, continuously place your data is at risk.  Unfortunately, too many people and even businesses either fail to recognize the risk or are unwilling to take the necessary steps to mitigate the danger.  Fortunately, there are pain-free methods of backing up (and restoring) your data.

First up, what data should be backed up.

  1. What do you want to back up?  For most people, backing up the desktop, photos, videos, music, downloads, and documents folders on their PC covers the bases.  If you have other folders in odd locations that are important, add them as well.  In most circumstances, backing up programs is useless. That said, a little later in this blog we will talk about setting restore points that do address this point.
  2. How large is your backup?  If your critical data is limited to a few files, then creating a backup is basically free.  Remember though that those pictures you store on your computer are large and likely numerous files. If you don’t mind losing them, then no problem.  If you would be devastated by their loss, consider backing them up.
  3. How would the loss of your data impact your life?  If you are in business, how would you cope with losing your data?  If it would put you out of business, then good backup is critical.

Backup methods: Once you’ve thought about what’s important, here’s how you protect it.

  1. Backup Method:  For the vast majority of people a cloud based on-line backup is the way to go.    There are a variety of approaches ranging from Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive (which require a more manual process) to fully automated backup systems such as Carbonite (my preferred approach).  Regardless of the method you select, you must exercise some diligence ensuring that the proper files are selected for backup and that the backup is performed on a regular basis (with Carbonite, backup is performed continuously in real time).  Other methods include maintaining an external hard drive (but if it isn’t stored off the premises, it really isn’t great protection), using a true mirroring service (very expensive and complex to set up), etc.
  2. Backup Frequency:  If you do not frequently add or change data backups can be performed with less frequency but anything less than once per month places you at serious risk.  If, on the other hand, you are constantly adding and changing files on your computer, you should perform daily backups (this is where an automated backup system is immensely helpful). 
  3. Restoring Your Data:  If you are using a manual method, restoring your data may be as simple as going to the cloud and copying the files back to your local computer.  More advanced systems such as Carbonite provide for automatic restoration of your data with a simple mouse click.

Other backup issues

  1. How to deal with viruses, malware and ransomware.  If your computer has been compromised, a properly managed backup system can be a godsend.  That said, unless you retain more than one full backup.  A standard practice is to save at least seven prior backups.  In order to recover from an attack, you will have to go back to the last backup that was not infected.  Frequently, your most recent backups will be infected. While you may lose some work, the vast majority of your data will be safe.
  2. Setting a Windows Restore Point:  Any time you make significant changes to your system, it’s a good idea to set a Windows Restore Point. This allows you to roll back any changes you made in the event they have unexpected negative consequences.  To set a restore point, go to the Control Panel, System, and System Protection.  From there, simply create a Restore Point and you’re golden. (Quick tip.  To easily get to the Control Panel, simply type ‘Control Panel’ in the search box on your Task Bar).
  3. Backup Maintenance:  Whether you are performing manual backups or using an automated system, you should periodically check a couple of things. Ensure that you are backing up all of your important data.  Over time, you will add folders and files that may not be located in the places you originally set to be backed up. Finally, check a few backups for errors. Restore some data from a backup and make sure it is functional.

If you follow these simple methods, you can rest easy knowing that your data is safe.


About the Author: AF

Allen Friedman Founder and CEO of Techaerus LLC

Allen Friedman is the owner and CEO of Techaerus LLC, an office efficiency consulting firm. He is also a licensed attorney. Allen founded and managed one of the largest consumer collections law firms in the country and managed over 50 attorneys as well as hundreds of non-attorney staff. Prior to founding that firm, he opened and managed the New York and Michigan operations for the largest consumer collections firm in the United States. Throughout his career, Allen has always placed great emphasis on ensuring that investments in office technology provide the greatest possible returns. In order to achieve these returns, he focuses on three pillars of office management; asset management, training, and automation. His expertise includes document/image management, software and hardware integration, training, and process management and automation. Allen lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife Amy, his children Cassidy and Gideon, and two adorable dogs named Roxie (a labradoodle) and Bentley (an Old English Sheepdog).