One of the first things I learned about computers was how to safely back up your data. Obviously, in the early 90s, this was a somewhat easier prospect – all of one’s documents and important files could easily fit on a 3.5″ floppy disk or two, and making multiple copies was straight-forward enough. Simply copy your files to one disk, keep it somewhere safe, and copy them to another disk too, and keep that somewhere else.
In 2022, backups are both somewhat more complex and also a lot easier. What’s become more undoubtedly more complex though is reminding people that backups are important. So much of our lives is digital – from drivers licences to bank cards, photos and precious memories, just about everything can (or in some cases, only) live on a mobile phone, laptop, or a cloud service.
How do you keep that data safe? Keep a backup!
What is a backup, you ask?
A backup is a copy of all your important files — for example, your family photos, home videos, documents and emails. Instead of storing it all in one place (like your computer or smartphone), you keep a copy of everything somewhere safe. Better yet, keep a couple of copies – one somewhere at home that’s easily accessible, and one somewhere else that wouldn’t be lost or damaged if your home was.
Want some terrifying stats?
- 21% of people have never backed anything up
- Around the world, 113 smartphones are lost or stolen every minute
- 29% of data is lost by accident
- 30% of computers are infected with some kind of malware
For all of these reasons, keeping a couple of copies of what matters to you is super important, and it’s not too hard to do.
What’s an effective backup strategy?
Any backup is better than none, and your most important files should be backed up a little better. You might try something like this – and trust me, it’s pretty simple:
- Go buy a couple of USB drives – you can even get some like Sandisk’s iXpand Flash Drive Luxe that hold 256GB and will backup your phone AND a laptop. There’s lots of options.
- Backup all your important files – photos, documents, password databases, browser bookmarks, emails, whatever – to drive number one. Keep that somewhere safe, but relatively accessible. A drawer, hall closet, etc.
- Backup all those important files again to drive number two. Keep that drive somewhere else; in your car glovebox perhaps, at a friend or family member/s house, at work, basically somewhere different.
If you want to take it a step further, you can follow the 3-2-1 rule which is both rock solid, and a little more involved:
- There should be 3 copies of data
- On 2 different media
- With 1 copy being off site
How to do this without going nuts? Easy – take our twin USB-drive backup option, and throw in a home NAS or similar, and before you know it, you’ve got:
- 3 copies – one at home on a NAS, one on a USB drive, and one on a USB at someone else’s house.
- 2 different media types – hard drives in the NAS, USB sticks elsewhere.
- 1 copy off site – at a friend’s place or similar.
You can also substitute other options, such as online backup services.
What do I use?
Call me old-school, but some of my important documents aren’t kept online, I still keep a file of important paper documents at home. Separately, the most important ones are photocopied and kept elsewhere just in case.
For my digital needs, I backup key data to a NAS a couple of times a week (it happens automatically, so once it’s setup, I can basically forget about it), and to improve my digital hygiene, I’m thinking about keeping a backup of key documents on a USB drive as well. I’m not quite committed to the 3-2-1 rule yet, but my important documents probably need a little more protection than they currently get.
Sandisk’s iXpand Luxe USB drive is a double-ended drive so you can use it on your laptop and your mobile – both Lightning (for iOS) and USB-C on the one drive means you can basically use it anywhere. The included software makes it a cinch to copy and – if necessary – secure files on your USB so if you do happen to misplace it, no one can access your documents without your secure password.
Of course… the software included with a USB drive like this isn’t always the most feature-rich or powerful. It will get the job done, but you might find yourself wanting something a little more capable. For most people though, it’ll do the job. Simply drag the folders you want to backup onto the app, and it’ll encrypt them onto your drive.
If encryption isn’t so important to you – e.g. you’re going to keep the USB drive somewhere safe that others won’t easily get to – encryption mightn’t be worth the hassle, and you can just drag and drop files onto the drive itself without encryption.
Whatever your preference, a USB drive is the easiest and likely most affordable backup option that doesn’t rely on ongoing cost or some 3rd party service provider.
While the software and drive are great and easy to use on Windows, it’s equally easy to use on my mobile; plug it in, install the Sandisk app, and you can easily backup photos, music and more from your phone to the USB drive. You can also, of course, use it as a handy way to get files between your laptop and mobile.
The only annoyance? For some reason, Sandisk’s iXpand Luxe interferes with my USB-C docking station and causes one of my displays to have a small panic. I think it may simply be that my dock is overloaded … but more experimentation is required!
However you do it, backing up your data is important!
This is why World Backup Day on 31st March is a thing; yes, you might think it’s a bit of a marketing ploy and you’d be right. After all, makers of USB drives and other backup solutions have to market and sell their products like anyone else.
However, it’s a timely reminder of the importance of securing our digital lives; having everything digital is great, but you need to be able to recover your data should something happen. Laptops fail. Mobiles get lost or damaged. Having your data somewhere else so you can readily get it back if your primary device fails … it’s just common sense.
Want to learn more about World Backup Day and tips for securing your data? Check out the World Backup Day website for more.
How do you backup your data?