As spring blossoms into full-force, millions of people will start to shed the heavy baggage and gear that kept them warm during winter by partaking in a tried and true practice: spring cleaning. While whipping yourself into a cleaning frenzy around your home, take a moment to extend your spring cleaning efforts into your digital environments as well. And there’s no better time to kick off a digital spring cleaning than during World Backup Day.
What exactly is World Backup Day? I’m glad you asked.
In today’s day and age, data is basically digital gold. It’s imperative to ensure your information is organized and backed up—not just for peace-of-mind, but to protect yourself against potential malware and ransomware threats. Still, a large number of people have never backed up their files, leaving themselves vulnerable to losing everything. In fact, this has become such a systemic problem that a whole day has been devoted to reversing this trend: World Backup Day. One of the main goals of the World Backup Day initiative is to reach people who have never backed their data up or people who aren’t even aware that data backups are a thing, let alone a crucial security measure.
For those who may not know, a backup is a second copy of all your important files and information, everything from photos and documents to emails and passwords. Storing all of that data in one place, like a personal computer or smartphone, is a woefully unsafe practice. Creating another copy of that data through a backup will ensure that it’s stored and kept safe somewhere else should catastrophe befall your personal mobile devices, or if they’re lost or stolen.
Data loss isn’t something that only happens to huge conglomerates or to unsuspecting victims in spy movies. Every individual is susceptible to data loss or theft, and backing up that data is an easy, relatively painless step to protect all of your personal information and prevent pesky hackers from truly swiping your stuff.
Think about it—if you’re targeted by a nasty piece of ransomware but have successfully performed a data backup, there’s absolutely no need for you to pay the ransom because you have a second, secure copy of all that data. It’s a simple preventative measure that can pay off big time should worse come to worst. Even the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign, dedicated to increase awareness around cybersecurity and provide information to help digital citizens protect against malware, lists regular data backups as an important security action to safeguard yourself against cybercrime.
There are two main approaches to backing up your data: either in the cloud or on an external hard drive. A cloud-based backup solution is great for people who don’t want to actively back up their devices and data or worry about the space constraints that come with most external hard drives. Simply subscribing to one of these cloud solutions will do the trick—your device’s files and data will automatically be backed up and protected without you having to lift more than a finger. Cloud-based services typically come with a monthly fee, and you’ll need a good internet connection to access them. If your connection is wonky or the site is undergoing maintenance, it can be difficult to access your backed-up data.
With an external hard drive, you can manually back up all your data and files yourself onto a physical device that you have access to anytime, anywhere. These drives are extremely reliable and a great way to achieve data redundancy. An external hard drive doesn’t hinge on internet access like cloud-based services and is an easy fix when transferring data to a new device. However, using external hard drives requires a more hands-on approach when it comes to actually backing up your data. The responsibility falls upon you to regularly perform these backups yourself. Storage space can also pose a problem. Look for an external drive with at least a terabyte of space to accommodate all of your data, which tends to accumulate quickly.
Here are some other digital spring cleaning tips to consider this World Backup Day:
- Play it extra safe and go both routes for a thorough backup by using an external drive and subscribing to a cloud-based solution. After all, it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to your personal data.
- Back up data from your mobile devices onto a central laptop or personal computer for an added layer of security and protection. Then work on backing up these devices with one (or both) of the methods laid out above.
- Have at least one backup of your initial backup as a fail-safe measure.
- Test your ability to restore data from backups regularly to ensure your backups have been performed correctly and that they haven’t been compromised.
- Back up your data with a process and system that’s simple and works best for you—there’s no need to over complicate it!