Today Is World Backup Day—Act Now to Protect Your Data

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Yes, today could actually change your life. March 31 is World Backup Day (WBD), and there are a myriad of reasons to participate in this noteworthy event. To find out why, let’s take a look at some startling data protection statistics.

Sponsors of WBD want you to know the facts. Backups are still not the norm, across virtually all devices. According to a 2017 study by Backblaze online backup services, 21.2 percent of individuals never back up their data and another 46 percent do it only once a year or less. That means two-thirds of the population is at significant risk of losing their data by not backing up regularly. All you have to do is close your eyes and picture all the photos you’ve taken in the past 364 days. Does a yearly backup still feel adequate to you?

“I spilled wine on my laptop!” Repair shops hear that and other accident stories on a regular basis. Devices also get lost all the time. Broad statistics are not easy to find, but smartphones and other portable electronic devices are easily lost, stolen, or damaged. While you should brush up on what to do with liquid spills because seconds count, also think about how much lower your stress level will be when you have a backup.

For computers, you also have to worry about viruses and even ransomware attacks, where thieves hold your computer hostage until ransom money is paid. If you routinely back up, this cybercrime, which shows no sign of slowing down in 2018, will have little to no effect. Who wants to pay hackers to stay out of your equipment? Back everything up instead.

Choose your approach. 

There’s a good saying in the data security business that goes something like this: “You don’t have to back up all your data—just the items you can’t afford to lose.” That list likely includes photos, videos, legal documents, and more. Think about how often you store valuable information, consider your level of comfort in protecting your data, and then you can choose a backup option that works best for you.

One approach is cloud storage services like Backblaze, Carbonite, or Spider Oak. You’ll want to make sure the cloud storage is encrypted andlearn about the ways to retrieve lost data. Before deciding on a provider, ask questions that are most important to you, such as, “If my hard drive fails, can I duplicate it rapidly?

Onsite backups should be part of every data storage plan. You can use an external hard drive that plugs into your device. USBs are another option. These are simple to connect, but to make it worthwhile you must remember to update your storage data regularly. Or, better yet, \set your computer to auto backup using software like Apple’s Time Machine or Microsoft’s File History. Be sure to encrypt these backups for maximum protection.

Apple makes a Time Capsule device that also functions as a wireless router; it backs up wirelessly using Time Machine. Western Digital offers RAID devices to serve the same function. The “R” in RAID stands for Redundant, and that is what you want in a backup.

One old-school backup is the safe deposit box; just don’t use it to store paper or images that can be destroyed by water. As folks in hurricane zones have discovered, these boxes are not meant to guard against all risks. At a minimum you can place valuable documents or USBs in a plastic bag for added safety.

While a single data backup source is better than none, two is even better. Between the potential for theft, lost or damaged devices, and the potential for fire or water damage, it’s no wonder data security experts prefer to back up their data locally on a device they can see and remotely in the Cloud.

Finally, test those backups regularly. A 2017 survey indicated that a significant percentage of businesses with backups still experienced data loss because the backup failed or became corrupted.

Ready to pledge?

We all have good intentions about backups. Sure, those photos of your kid’s graduation from Kindergarten are irreplaceable, but life often gets in the way. Reinforce your decision to back up by signing WDB’s pledge. It’s short and sweet:

“I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”

There are many ways to back up, but they only work when you use them. As the folks at WBD say, “Don’t Be an April Fool.” Back up all the data you cherish today.

Still not convinced? Read this gut-wrenching story from Mat Horan of WIRED magazine who experienced an epic hack that cost him all his digital data. It can be really, really devastating.

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