There is nothing more devastating than the loss of a hard drive…. or is there?

You reach a point in your life where you cannot afford to lose you data, whether it is because your business depends on it, or because your personal collection of photos, music, essays, poetry, financial information et. cetera becomes irreplaceable, and therefore, priceless to you.

Computers are made of moving parts that will undoubtedly fail. It is not a question of “what shall I do if my hard drive fails?”, but a question of “When will my hard drive fail?”. When you “save” a file or a project, you are saving onto a disc or “drive” built into your computer. When this drive breaks, the information “saved” on the drive can be lost forever, unless a copy has been made somewhere else. Having your data “backed up” is a preventative step to protect you from the potentially devastating sudden loss of everything on your computer’s hard drive. There are usually not warning signs for a hard drive failure. The easiest thing to do is to back up your data several times per day, in order to prevent more than one day’s productivity being lost when your drive does fail.

Ways to back up your data:

1) Digital Backup- The easiest way to store a digital backup is by purchasing an additional hard drive to be used as a ‘backup drive’. You can either  backup files that are important to you by manually dragging the files into the external hard drive or you can utilize “backup software” such as ChronoSyncTimeMachine (mac only), and CarbonCopy (mac only). Important to note: it is good practice to run your storage drives every now and then, like a car, to keep the moving parts… well… moving.

2) Cloud Backup- This method of data storage uploads your files to a server via an internet connection. This is useful if you are working on more than one computer, or if you need to access information from your smartphone when you’re not at your office or home. You must be careful about putting your private information or unpublished intellectual property on “The Cloud” because you need to protect yourself from cyber-piracy. Always read the “Terms of Use” when using a cloud service. I use the following cloud services for data storage: Dropbox, Google Drive (built into Gmail), and regular email (email yourself important files and you will be able to download them again from the email). There’s also iCloud for Mac users.

3) Optical Backup- You can store your data in an optical medium on DVDs or CDs. DVDs and CDs can last more than 10 years, if stored safely. A small percentage (1-2%) of the discs will fail in that time though. The plastic in the CDs and DVDs will not last forever. This method of storing data is not as cost effective as it used to be compared to the falling cost of Hard Drive and Cloud-based storage.

Any of these methods are valid ways to back up your files. It’s important to find what works for you and to do it everyday!

Remember, your backup drive is just as likely to fail as your primary drive, so always have your files in no less than 3 places at once to ensure that your won’t lose your work, data, music, photos, ect. Be prepared for the worst-case-scenarios (house fire, robbery, flood, ect). Don’t have all 3 back-ups in the same location ie: your house or your backpack.