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What Do We Mean by Data Backup and Recovery?

You spill coffee on your laptop or your smartphone falls in the toilet. You try, but you can't access any of your information. That night, you toss and turn, mulling over how much you’ve just lost: files, contacts, family photos, research, financial data, passwords and so on.

Don’t be that guy (or gal). Data backup is about creating and preserving a copy of your device’s content to guard against a virus, crash or other disaster. In other words, making sure the stuff that matters most on your PC, laptop, cell phone, tablet, etc., is always secure and accessible.

To avoid whatever situation may one day cause your data loss, you need to prepare now. Start here with entry-level data protection advice, direct from our experts.

Storage: Where Backup Files Live

Backup devices — the hardware that stores the actual data — take many forms, including:

  • Personal cloud: A personal cloud provides all the security of a standard hard drive with the convenience and accessibility of the cloud. These devices come with an app that allows you to access your content anywhere and share what you want remotely.
  • External hard drives: Today’s external hard drives feature automatic backup and lots of storage. If you travel often, you can easily find portable devices that hold 1TB+.
  • Network attached storage (NAS): If you have multiple computers, at home or at work, NAS lets you back them all up to a single location. NAS also allows for network sharing of files and printers.
  • USB flash drives: Small and portable, USB flash drives are great for backing up files on the road. However, most don’t have the storage capacity to serve as your only backup system.

Software: How Backups Happen

The system you rely on for backups needs to support the degree and frequency of backups you need.

  • One-click system backup lets you back up everything with a single click.
  • Files-in-use backup lets you perform data backups while your computer’s still working.
  • Complete system backup saves a copy of your hard drive, allowing you to restore your entire computer back to a given point in time.
  • Incremental or differential backups may be used in conjunction with complete system backups to limit the data — and time — involved with a backup.

Other features to consider in backup software include data compression to maximize storage space, filtering to identify certain files for backup and password encryption to protect against hacking. And make sure you understand how — and how quickly — you’ll recover files and programs after a loss.

Once you’ve found a backup system that suits you, be sure to use it and use it right. Test it every so often to be sure it’s working. And then look forward to a good night’s sleep.

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