Back it Up

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I know people are tired of my “back up your shit” posts, but back up your shit.

I used the “S word” because your data really isn’t that. We just don’t think of how much it means until we’re afraid it might be gone, or it is gone, or someone is holding it for ransom.

Ransomware is more of a concern for businesses than individuals BUT there is always the chance. If you have a business, you should have a professional business backup plan. You can get that with an online backup service like Carbonite, which I have used for years and love, or you can hire a local computer and IT business to set up backups for you, manage your network, deal with viruses, etc.

Ransomware may affect your personal files if your personal computer is also your work computer. If you connect to a business network on a laptop that you take home, you are at risk for a ransomware infection. So first, make sure you have real antivirus protection. Pick a company, Kaspersky, Symantec, whatever you feel is best after you research antivirus companies. PAY FOR IT. You can’t get by with just the free version anymore. I also recommend you install Malwarebytes. It searches for different kinds of files than most antivirus software.

Now you need an online backup service. Because we’re all lazy. We all think, oh, I can back it up tomorrow. If you have an online backup service like Carbonite, every file you change will be backed up. You access your backup from any computer and retrieve just one file that you need, you can grab the version of your manuscript from last night if you changed something and decide you don’t like the change, you can download all your files to a reformatted or new computer. The downside is that it will take a while, like a few days, if you have a lot of music, movies, or large file size pictures.

Now, you need a backup on an external hard drive. NOT A FLASH DRIVE. FLASH DRIVES ARE FOR TRANSFERRING FILES FROM ONE COMPUTER TO ANOTHER, NOT BACKUPS. Also, NOT DROPBOX. Dropbox is not secure. You can google this and read about it yourself.

What do you have on your computer?

  • Family photos
  • Family videos
  • Your music library
  • TV shows and movies
  • Your art
  • Your writing
  • Personal documents
  • Everything else

Isn’t all this worth $80? Because that’s what a Western Digital external hard drive costs. One that’s big enough to hold multiple backups of every personal file on your computer.

Buy an external hard drive. Back up your computer once a week. At least twice a month. Seriously. Because how much do you add to your computer in terms of new/changed files every week?

*Before you back up your computer, back up your phone/tablet to your computer. If you have an iPhone, back it up in iTunes. Encrypt your backup (WRITE DOWN YOUR PASSWORD) so you can restore your data AND passwords to your phone.

This is what you back up to your external hard drive. And you have to go to Start-(Name of your computer) to access the actual folders and files. The icons on your desktop are just shortcuts, not your files.

You back up:

  • Every personal file/folder on your desktop
  • Your My Documents folder
  • Your My Pictures folder
  • Your My Music folder
  • Your My Videos folder
  • You can probably back up the bookmarks folder from the browser you use. That’s very easy to do if you use Firefox.

Online backup service reps will tell you that you should have a redundant (external hard drive) backup. Because a)You always need to have at least two backups and b)Restoring all your files from an online backup service can take a long time, as I said before. However, you can get an online backup service plan that includes your OS, in case your hard drive gets wiped/damaged. I know someone who got a virus (from a link on Facebook) that wiped their hard drive. The computer couldn’t be reformatted because the OS was gone. That can happen.

Backing up your iPhone photos to your computer is easy. Plug the phone into your computer. Go to My Computer. Right-click on your phone icon. Import your pictures and videos. This is a good thing to do to free up space on your phone. You can save your photos to your computer and clear your camera roll, or you can save them and then delete individual photos and videos from your phone. Because you know you really don’t need ALL those photos of your cats on your phone all the time.

So if you don’t have any or all of these protections in place, get them. Back up your computer this weekend. You will never regret spending the money to safeguard your data.

*A quick edit: When you pay for an antivirus subscription, you get 24 hour tech support. Just one more reason to do it.

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