Backups are certainly necessary, but where you keep your data is also an important decision. Choose from offsite or onsite backup systems.
There’s nothing worse than losing all of your client data because a virus attacked your computer or a hacker got in. Sometimes it’s not an outside influence, but a mechanical failure that causes all your data to be lost. Whatever the problem, it’s not a matter of if, but when, your computer will go down. When that happens, you want to be sure that you have backups of everything important.
You have a few choices when it comes to backing up all your information, but first, you’ll want to decide whether you want to backup yourself or have a service do this task for you. There are pros and cons to each.
To save money, you may want to do your own backups. It’s not a complicated process, but it can be time consuming. There are a few methods of doing this.
CD/DVD: You can burn data to disks, using a CD or DVD depending on the amount of data that needs to be stored. For large amounts, a DVD will be best. In order to use this method, you will need a CD or DVD burner and software to allow you to burn it.
Hard Drive: Some computers have dual hard drives in case one goes down and you can save your information and important files there. An external drive is also an option.
Hard Copy: You may wish to print out some of your more important data and keep it in a filing cabinet.
Memory Stick: These portable drives are very easy to handle and while they can’t hold that much data, they can serve as a good backup for specific, important files. You can also update them, which is not possible with a CD.
Online Storage: You can also store files online, but if you do go this route, be careful to ensure the security of your data. Just putting it on a server won’t necessarily protect it, so take steps to keep everything safe from prying eyes. For videos or photos, you may want to store files on sites like YouTube or Flickr. These can be good places to maintain lower quality copies. While not ideal for backups, they will do in a pinch.
Remember that all of these choices will need to be done on a regular basis. In order to ensure that you stay up to date with your backups, pick a time frame, once a week, twice a day, etc. to do your backups and then follow the schedule very closely. While free, this takes considerable time and can be easily overlooked.
One of the biggest flaws with doing your own backups is that you are likely to forget to do it once in a while. If anything happens to the computer system before you have a chance to save that valuable new information, you’ll lose it forever. To combat this, many companies now use external backup services which can be set to automatically backup specific areas of your computer as often as you please.
On the downside, these services do charge on a monthly basis, which means, if you want to be sure that your data is all being stored, you will need to continue paying. Most services are fairly well priced, but even so, ten to twenty dollars a month can add up over time. However, if you are constantly forgetting to do your backups, they make it quite simple.
These days, nearly all offsite services are online and will keep your data secure. Via the Internet, the company will do regular backups according to a schedule that you set. If anything happens to your computer, you can simply go online and grab your files from the company. However, if you stop paying, they will delete any files you have stored with them.
Another advantage of working with a company that stores everything offsite is that you don’t need to worry about things being destroyed. When you have DVDs and external hard drives in the same office as the original, any disaster such as a fire or storm, can damage everything, leaving you with no backups at all. However, when this information is stored elsewhere, your entire office could burn down and you will still have access to the valuable files you’ve stored.
Keeping copies of your files is vital, even if you don’t have national secrets on your computer. Everything to do with your business should be backed up in case of an emergency. You want to have access to everything from your company’s financial records to client lists, which will enable you to rebuild should anything happen.