Cybersecurity Advent – Day 04

Today’s Cybersecurity tip is: backup your devices

If you’ve never experienced a hard drive crash on your computer or your mobile phone completely dying and you lose everything on your device … consider yourself lucky. We put a lot of information, time, and effort into our devices, and if we ever lose them it can potentially be catastrophic.

Fortunately, it can be quite simple to backup your devices and your data. Unfortunately, I can’t give a “one size fits all” solution here. I can provide you some guidelines and give you my personal setup though which will hopefully point you in the right direction to start backing up your computer and/or mobile device.

The first thing to remember about backups is the 3-2-1 rule. Have at least 3 copies of your data, on 2 media types, and keep 1 offsite copy.

How you decide to do that will depend on what you are backing up and how your system is configured. Here’s how I handle it:

My important files are stored locally in My Documents on my computer hard drive then synced to a cloud drive automatically. Additionally, I have an external hard drive I plug in manually at least once per week and run Windows’ File System backup at that time. So, I have three copies (one local, one online, and one on an external drive) on at least two types of media (hard drives and cloud drive) and one offsite (stored on the cloud provider servers). This same setup can be reproduced in Mac OS X with any cloud drive and Time Machine.

As for your mobile device … I suggest either the cloud drive or frequent, manual backups to your computer. My photos are the only thing on my mobile that I fear losing; so I have automatic backups to Google Photos enabled (iPhotos will do the same thing on iPhone … but with limited cloud space). In general, you need to ask yourself what you wouldn’t want to lose and go from there.

I know it can feel overwhelming, espeically if you’re not doing anything at the moment. So try signing up for a free cloud drive (OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, etc.) and just copy your “documents” folder to that drive right now. Or buy a 1TB USB drive (there are lots of great holiday deals, but typically can be found for under $50) and plug it into your system and copy everything over. Do that and you’re already halfway to being fully backed up!

This is certainly a bigger “tip” than can be dealt with in this one short post. So feel free to ask specific questions in the comments and maybe I can help set you on a better path.

See you tomorrow!