With everything going digital, our lives have gotten easier but it has also made us more vulnerable. Losing precious memories or a month of hard work used to require a hungry pet or a natural disaster. Now all it takes is clicking on an email link or visiting the wrong website. While this has long been a hazard, the surge in ransomware has increased the chance of losing precious data exponentially.
With this increase in risk, backing up data to prevent a catastrophic loss has gone from being just a good idea to being critical. Single data backups reduce the peril significantly, but they really aren’t sufficient. This is especially true if the backup is stored on a portable drive that stays connected to your machine. When the computer is compromised anything else that is connected to it, including the portable drive, is also exposed.
Thankfully you don’t have to worry about data backups on your Mount Royal workstation as long as you save your data on the H: drive, J: drive or Google Drive. IT Services backs up multiple copies of files on those servers in multiple locations for you as does Google. If you are saving files on the C: drive or the Desktop though, they are at risk as files stored there are not backed up. This is why IT Services is constantly telling people to stop storing files on the C: drive and the Desktop. We aren’t trying to make your life more difficult, we are trying to protect you from data loss.
What about your machine at home? What is the best practice when it comes to backing up your own data? Most professionals will suggest the 3-2-1 strategy. Have three copies of your data, on two different unconnected devices, one of which is off site.
- Your first copy is your working copy. It sits on your computer and is what you mess with every day.
- Your second copy is stored on a separate device. You can use a USB key, a portable drive or another computer. It is connected to the internet or your computer only long enough to copy your data and is then disconnected. Ideally you would do this daily, but you can chance it and only do this weekly.
- Your third copy is stored off site. This ensures that if your home or office is flooded, burns down to the ground or is destroyed in some other manner; your data is still safe. Again, this should be a device or service that you connect to upload your data and then disconnect from. You can use a cloud service or the sneaker net (upload to a portable device that you store in a safety deposit box or other safe location). Ideally you would also do this daily, but a weekly update can be done as well.
Following 3-2-1 will almost guarantee that you can recover from any kind of data loss. However it does take some time and commitment, all you have to do is determine if your data is worth it. Unfortunately, we usually don’t figure that out until its too late.