On a day to day basis, we are all using I.T devices in some shape or form. Whether it be desktop pc, a laptop, smartphone, smart TV, the list is a long one. And with the use of these devices, we are also using and creating more and more data and information, data and information that is in danger of being lost if the device we are using breaks, is stolen or lost.
To that end, we should all be backing up our data on a periodic basis but being the busy bees that we are, it rarely if ever gets done. As an example, a survey taken by Acronis in 2017 found that nearly 57% of respondents did not back up any of their computers. A Backblaze survey has that number at a more conservative 24% but that is still a lot of computers and a lot of data that exists in only one copy!
Backup – Not Sync!
One little caveat here, using cloud storage software like Dropbox to store photos, documents etc that are instantly synchronised on multiple devices is not strictly speaking a backup. Yes, if you lose one device, you can simply turn on another one and access your cloud files straight away. But if you delete a file in the cloud on one device by accident, that deletion will be synchronised to all your devices. Gone forever.
A backup should be a location where a one way copy of your data is held from your original files. If you want to find an old copy of any data, the backup is where you will find it.
That sounds simple in theory but in reality, whether it be for personal or business-related data, implementing a backup strategy can get complicated to the point where you lose the motivation to keep doing it regularly. And once you stop following the strategy, you are back to where you started from…. So, what is a good strategy to use?
The 3-2-1 Rule
For personal or business purposes, a good starting point is to follow the 3-2-1 rule.
This rule states that you should:
- Store 3 copies of every important piece of data.
- Store the data in 2 different formats.
- Keep 1 copy of this data in a physical location away from your normal home/place of work.
Even though the idea of having 3 copies of your data seems like overkill, it actually makes a lot of sense.
Having 3 copies ensures that no single event will completely destroy all your data. You will always have at least one version to go back to.
Having your data in 2 formats ensures that an issue with one format will not cause a problem with the other and ensuring that you always have a version to revert to.
Having 1 copy in a different physical location protects you against larger physical issues that could occur like fire or theft in your home/workplace.
Even if this strategy sounds complicated, there are plenty of options that can help you with the heavy lifting of looking after the backup of your data.
For the first copy, you don’t have to do anything! Just working on a day to day basis gives you your first copy of your data.
For the second copy, Windows and Apple both have built in software utilities you can use that are completely free. At the very least, all you have to do is purchase an external hard drive, plug it in to your computer, set up the free utilities and you are away. Two thirds of the way to ease of mind! There are also lots of software utilities you can buy that give you far more bells and whistles to satisfy more complex requirements like Acronis backup.
For the third copy, there is software (like Acronis backup) and services (like Backblaze) that will backup your data for you to an external location and all with a few mouse clicks and at very reasonable prices.
When the cost of data loss can become critical in extreme situations (especially for small businesses), a relatively small investment in a backup strategy can help you worry less about the what-if scenarios and leave you to get on with the work you need to achieve.
If you would like help or just a chat about the options available, contact us and we’ll be pleased to talk.
If you feel confident enough to try it yourself, check out the software available from Acronis and also the service from Backblaze, both really good products (yes, we are partners for both of these products but we also use both of them for our backup strategy so if it’s good enough for us…)