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Backup basics

If you store information on a computer, you need backups. All electronic data is at some risk of loss or destruction, whether through equipment failure, user error, malicious intent or natural disaster. The question is not, “Do I need a backup?” but, “What type of backup do I need?” Thinking about the questions below can help you to answer this question.

What should I backup?

Any data you can’t bear to risk losing must be backed up. For a business this might include all your customer and financial records. For a home user it might mean hundreds of digital photos of your grandchildren. Think about all the information you have stored on any computer. For each item that you’d hate to lose, can it be easily recreated or obtained from another source? If not, then it must be backed up.

When should I backup?

How often does the information you’re backing up change? How much work can you stand to lose? Would your business (and your sanity) survive if you had to restore from last week’s backup and spend another week filling in the gaps? If so, weekly backups at the end of your busiest day might be sufficient. If not, you might need daily or hourly backups.

How should I backup?

The ideal answer is, “Automatically”. The elements most likely to break any backup strategy are human error and inertia. Modern backup software can run continuously in the background, detecting changes to files as they happen and making backups according to a schedule of your choosing. If automatic backup isn’t an option, partial automation is the next best thing. If you can double-click an icon on your desktop to run a backup every day, you’re more likely to do so than if you have to navigate through menus and options every time.

Where should I backup?

Making a copy of a file on the same hard drive doesn’t count! Equipment failure will destroy your backup along with your original. If you’re serious about protecting your data, you need both onsite and offsite backups.

Onsite backups

Onsite backups provide immediate access to old versions of files and copies of accidentally deleted files. They can also get you up and running again within minutes of a hard drive failure. Additional internal or external hard drives represent a highly effective and affordable solution for onsite backups.

Offsite backups

Offsite backups protect you against less likely but more catastrophic events that result in physical loss or destruction of both your live data and your onsite backups. Portable hard drives can work well, but you have to remember to exchange the offsite copies. If you have a high speed internet connection, online or ‘cloud’ backups are a great alternative, and if your backup set is small enough they can even be free.

What now?

Call us today at 518.392.0846 to discuss your backup needs. We’ll work with you to understand your requirements so we can recommend and implement a suitable backup strategy for you.

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