Don’t be a fool – Backup on March 31st!

We’ve all been the unfortunate recipient of a failed hard drive or lost data. It’s frightening, unnerving, and down right inconvenient to have technology let you down like that. One day, not so very long ago, I was copying files from DVD discs to my computer’s hard drive so that I could form a better filing system. In the middle of this process, my computer screen went blank and the machine shut down. 

I immediately took the laptop to my IT Manager (at the time it was my brother) and he removed the hard drive and was thankfully able to recover most of the files that were on it. The hard drive had failed, but before it was 100% unusable, about 75% of the files were able to be retrieved. He stressed to me then that I needed a better backup system. My entire life was on that computer! I purchased an external hard drive and started backing my system up on a regular basis. It’s really unfortunate that incidents like this are what cause us to take action. That’s what World Backup Day is about. 

World Backup Day is slated for March 31st to remind people to prepare their systems for another year of use and back up their computers on an annual basis. The moniker “Don’t be an April fool” is used as the slogan for the day and personally, I think that’s a great way to remember when to backup your system. WorldBackupDay.com defines a backup as a “second copy of all your important files — for example, your family photos, home videos, documents, and emails.” The idea is to make a second copy of your system instead of storing everything in one place (like your computer). That way, if you system that is constantly in use fails, you can always go back to your backup and still have all the important files maintained and safe. 

One thing I want to stress here is that a backup is a “second” copy. The reason I’m pulling that out as a distinction is because some people might think that by storing all their photos in a cloud-based system that they are covered. That isn’t always the case. A cloud system is still a hard drive somewhere in the ether. It, too, can fail. Have a backup — a redundancy — in place to save your files. 

So what are the options for backing up your files? Well, there are several things you could choose to do. 

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Single External Drive: This would include a portable hard drive or even a flash drive, if it’s a large enough capacity. I like this method for basic users — people who have a single computer with a smaller hard drive. There are lots of great choices out there for hard drives. My favorite right now is the G-Drive Mobile Pro SSD Thunderbolt 3 500GB hard drive from G-Technology. This is, of course, meant for users with TB3 compatible systems, but G-Technology has a lot of options for portable drives that are USB-A compatible, too. 

Network Attached Storage (NAS): This method involves setting up a NAS system like the DS1019+ from Synology. We are currently testing this system and will release our review within the next few days. The point of a NAS is that any computer on your network can utilize it and these systems usually offer some sort of redundancy within its system architecture. So, if you have a home or small business that has multiple computers involved, it would make sense to develop a NAS option that works for you. 

Synology actually has some great deals available through Amazon and Newegg to celebrate World Backup Day. The DS218j will be 20% on 3/31 on Amazon, as well as featured in the Newegg emailer on 3/27-3/28. There is also a DS218+ bundle deal with two 6TB Seagate Ironwolf drives at Amazon and Newegg for the 30th and the 31st. Many NAS systems to do not come with hard drives pre-installed and there are lots of choices out there for hard drives. 

When it comes to mechanical drives, you really have to be cautious about what you select — especially for NAS systems. They usually run more often and more frequently in a NAS system so you need something more than the run-of-the-mill drive you can pick up at your local big box retailer. We actually recommend the WD Red Pro series hard drives. They are designed to work in NAS systems and while they are more expensive than standard drives, they are less likely to wear out and fail in this type of system. These hard drives also feature a 7200RPM spin so they are going to access data faster than other mechanical drives. 

Cloud-Based Storage: This is probably the system that most people these days are familiar with. “Send it to the cloud” was almost a catch phrase a few years ago and so many different systems are cloud-based now that it is very much a part of our culture. I actually recommend this type of system to larger organizations. It’s much more practical to utilize a cloud system for backups when you have dozens of computers you are trying to manage. In addition to being a good system for larger organizations, this is also great for individuals that move around a lot or work from remote locations. You can access your files from anywhere — not just your office. The downside to online storage is that it can be expensive and because you require a connection to the internet, your system can be susceptible to hacking — especially when you are accessing them from public hotspot locations. You can, of course, protect yourself by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) application to protect your data. This is another area where there are lots of choices out there for providers. You can get started by visiting VPNPro to find out what services might work best for you. They are a site that breaks down VPN services and informs consumers about what might work best with their system.

While cloud-based systems are great for files that you access frequently, it may not be the best option for large media files simply because of the expense. Some of the most well-established cloud storage options are Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. They all have free plans, but those plans have limits. Once you exceed those limits, that’s when the expense kicks in. 

No matter what backup plan works best for you, take some time on March 31st this year to evaluate your system and create a backup. It will save you the stress of losing a hard drive when you least expect it. 

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