A Variety of Backup Systems
You need multiple backups to adequately protect your data from disaster. Your computer normally stores your working data such as photos, documents, and data files. You must first protect your data in case your computer fails. There are a variety of backup systems including:
- External Media: Most computer have CD or DVD drives. These devices are cheap and reliable but have limited storage capacity. When you discard old backups be sure to destroy them. If you just tossed your discs in the trash then a clever dumpster diver could abscond with your data and create lots of unpleasantness. Be sure to break old discs and be aware that breaking discs can create plastic disc shrapnel.
- External Drives: External drives have much more storage capacity. Thumb drives can work for small amounts of data and USB drives (spin drives) can hold much more. Thumb drives are much slower and they will wear out eventually. Spin drives typically connect via a USB port, come in various sizes from large to mega-giganto, and start at around $60.
- Cloud: The Internet can be used for external storage. There are free and paid storage sites where you can save your data. Cloud backup companies save your data on server’s that are protected and backed-up and some even have co-locations in different cities. Remember that cloud backup is only as good as the company that stands behind it.
- Multiple Backups: Multiple backups are required regardless of the backup method used. Cloud backup companies normally do multiple backups but access to your data is only as good as your Internet connection. I prefer physical backups rather than using the cloud. If you use an external drive then you MUST have multiple back-ups. Personally, I have my working data in my computer, a local backup drive, and another backup drive in a safe-box at the bank.
So, which is best? Well, it depends on the amount of data, the value of that data, and your personal comfort level. For low volumes of data CD/DVDs or a couple of thumb drives might be fine. If you have critical data then you may want to use multiple external drives or the cloud. Talk with a computer professional to decide which backup regimen would work best for you.