What are your most valuable assets? You automatically think of your house, your car, your jewelry and your savings account. Very few of us would also add to this list the countless digital data kept on our computers and mobile phones. Moreover, this is not a very healthy attitude, because we also tend to neglect to protect these data as carefully as we usually protect the other valuables we own.
Why Is Data Valuable?
To put it bluntly, the data stored on our computers and smartphones is a faithful image of our identity. Just think of all the personal information stored on these devices: your photos and videos, your address, telephone number, email address, and even your bank account number and ID documents.
These days, we use computers and smartphones for everything: business, entertainment, shopping, paying bills and taxes. So the more we use them, the more personal, sensitive and vital data is stored in them.
What Is Offsite Data Backup?
Offsite data backup means creating a full copy of all your files and folder in a different storage medium than the one where you currently keep them. Some examples of offsite data storage mediums are:
• USB flash drive
• External HDD
• A different computer/server
• Cloud storage services
Of course, not all these storage mediums are equally safe and recommended. CDs and DVDs can be broken, lost or scratched and become unusable. USB flash drives are not very reliable either. External hard drives can malfunction, just like the one inside your computer.
At present, cloud storage solutions are the safest and most reliable offsite data backup solutions. The most popular cloud storage services offer an entry-level free account with generous storage capacity:
• 2 GB for Dropbox
• 10 GB for MediaFire
• 15 GB for Google Drive
As we will show you later on in this article, storing data on a physical device in the same location as the computer, is not a good idea. This principle is similar to the saying “do not keep all your eggs in the same basket.” For this reason, we recommend cloud storage as the safest offsite data backup solution.
“But My Computer and Phone Work Perfectly!”
This is the number one counterclaim made by all the people who are advised to start backing up their files offsite. Private individuals, home-based business owners and professionals alike put much faith in the devices they use. It is a top-of-the-line model, I’ve had it for only one year…these are the excuses even you would come up with if prompted to start looking for data backup solutions.
However, every device made by man is subject to malfunction one day. Also, accidents happen: you spill coffee over your laptop or drop your smartphone on the hard granite floor, and it shatters into pieces. Worse, there are individuals, cybercriminals, who are intent on hacking into your devices and compromising your data.
Are you still not convinced that you may be at risk of losing your files? If you still put all your faith in technology, here are five key reasons why you should consider backing up your data:
5 Reasons Why Backing Up Your Data Offsite Is Extremely Important
1. Natural and Man-made Disasters Can Compromise Your Devices
A lightning bolt or a power surge…a flood or a fire, these disasters can happen to any of us. While insurance covers for damages to the house and the furniture and electronic equipment, nothing can bring back lost data.
This is why a DVD, flash drive, or external HDD are not very reliable. They will be destroyed in the natural disaster together with your laptop, PC, or smartphone. If you want to keep a backup copy of your files on such a device, it is recommended to store it outside your house: at the office, at a family member or trusted friend’s house, etc.
2. Devices Can Malfunction Beyond Repair or Data Recovery
Maybe you have already been through a few situations when your computer or smartphone stopped working, but you managed to get them repaired. However, there are cases of catastrophic failure, when a computer or mobile phone cannot be fixed (or it would be unreasonably expensive to do it).
“No problem, I’ll just recover the data from it.” Do not be so confident. Although there are software programs that can recover data, they never guarantee success. In fact, not even IT firms and specialists ever promise to get your data back, only to attempt doing so to the best of their abilities. In cases where there are physical damages to the sensitive discs inside a hard drive, it may be impossible to recover any item of data.
3. Ransomware Attacks Are More and More Frequent
Ransomware is a specific type of virus which encrypts the hard drive of your computer. You are no longer able to access your files and software unless you pay a ransom to the cybercriminals. For instance, you may have heard on the news about the WannaCry global attack – this was a ransomware attack.
Sometimes, the cybercriminals request ridiculously large amounts of money, in the range of thousands of US dollars, to decrypt your computer. However, even if you afford the sum, there is no guarantee that the cybercriminals may be right on their word. It is like trusting thieves to bring back your stolen items after you pay them.
4. Access Your Data Even When You Are Away from Home
Mobility is the defining characteristic of our generation. We relocate for work, frequently travel for business and go to distant islands and beaches for holidays. On certain situations, you may need access to specific data. If they are stored only on your computer back home, this may be very hard, unless you can ask a friend to go to your home and turn on the computer.
Keeping data backed up offsite is the answer: either you access the cloud storage service, or you carry with you the USB flash drive or external HDD. Thus, you do not have to worry about finding ways to access information required, for instance, for hotel check-ins or plane ticket booking.
5. Your Devices Can Be Stolen
Smartphones are easy targets for thieves and muggers. No matter how careful you are, one day you may become a victim of such theft. Even PCs and laptops can be stolen when someone breaks into your house, or there is a burglary at your office.
While there are ways to lock your stolen devices and make them unusable or to erase all data stored on it, you also lose the respective data, unless you have a backup copy.
The best policy is to be ready for the worst case scenario and make sure that, no matter what happens, you have access to your personal and valuable data at all times.
What option will you choose to backup your files offsite? Drop your comments below.
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