It's that time of year again where people are trying to think of resolutions to make for the new year. So, I thought I would suggest everyone try to back up their data.
As someone that's known for being a bit techie, every so often I have a conversation like this:
Them: "Help! I've lost all my data."
Me: "Do you have a backup?"
Me: "Oh dear! That's a shame."
The main calamities that occur are:
- The person accidentally deleted something.
- The person lost the storage device their data was on.
- The storage device the data was on had a technical failure.
- A malicious person hacked the computer encrypted the data and is now asking for a ransom.
- Acts of nature: fire, flood, lightning strikes, etc.
While it is impossible to reduce the risk to zero, a backup solution will give varying degrees of protection against all of those.
There are various ways of setting up a backup. Just copying data to an external drive is probably the easiest to set up, but it's also easy to forget to do it. Online storage services (OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud and DropBox) can be good but can also be expensive and don't always protect well against accidental deletion. The way I do it is that I have a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device with duel hard disks that all our computers back themselves up to every hour or so. Then I periodically take a copy of the NAS to a portable hard drive and store that away from the house.
Here is a list of useful links to get you started:
Finally, if you have lost some data and don't have a backup there is still some hope. Often data that was stored on corrupted drives or files that were deleted are actually still partially there. With encrypted drives and SSDs this is less likely than with the old Hard Disks. There are tools and services which may be able to recover them, however these are a bit hit and miss and sometimes expensive. If you do the wrong thing you can make these recovery tools less effective so don't do anything without first getting advice.