How To Protect Your Data

It’s an awful feeling when you try and access your data off of your hard drive and nothing happens. And in our tropical environment here in Hawaii we have it doubly hard. The warm temperatures and tropical breezes while paradise to live in play havoc with electronic equipment. And once the equipment fails there’s only so much I can do to recover your data.

So in this post, I’m going to tell you how to store your data and some free solutions for backing it up.

Back up, back up, back up!

Backing up your data to another hard drive, flash drive, or to the cloud is the number one way to make sure you don’t loose everything. Becuase your hard drive WILL fail at some point. Here in Hawaii, it’s most likely the salt sea air. But it could be that third cup of coffee accidentally knocked over your machine. Or maybe moving from one place to another and, OOPS, you drop the laptop or computer tower. Ransomware has been in the news lately and if your machine is infected, even if you pay the ransom (DON’T!!!!) the hackers may or may not give you control of your data again. Or it may just be old hardware that just fails (this has happened to me a few times). So it is imperative that you get in the habit of making a back up of everything important to you.

External Hard Drive

These are just what the name suggests. Hard drives that you can plug into your computers USB port and copy files onto just like your computers internal hard drive. Except this one is portable and completely separate from your computer or laptop. You can also do the same thing with a flash drive, which is just a small, handheld drive that also plugs into a USB port. But the difference is in the amount of storage and in some cases, some desktop external hard drives have backup software built in.

For instance, the average storage space for a flash drive can range from 1GB(Gigabyte) to 128GBs and can cost anywhere from $5 to $100+. While an external hard drive starts out with 1TB (Terabyte) and goes up to 20TBs. Trust me, you don’t have that many pictures of little Timmy to ever need 20TBs. I have 5TBs and its only half full. They range in price from $50 to $300 for a 5TB, or if you REALLY need 20TB – $1,000+.

This can be a quick solution to back up your data, BUT it still runs the risk of failing. Again you could damage it, lose it, or it could be stolen. So let’s look at the solution I use.

The Cloud

Now a day’s every is “In The Cloud”. No not the fluffy white things in the sky that looks like a bunny. The cloud is internet speak for online data storage. If you have an iPhone, then you might already be using Apple’s free iCloud service.

iCloud securely stores your photos, videos, documents, music, apps, and more — and keeps them updated across all your devices. So you always have access to what you want, wherever you want it.

~Via Apple’s Website

And this is really the basis for all Cloud services. A way to backup your data and make it accessible anywhere. Just to clear up any confusion, the cloud part of cloud-based storage services refers to storing your files somewhere other than your computer’s hard drive, usually on the provider’s servers. As one tech pundit put it: “There is no Cloud. It’s just someone else’s computer.” Having data in the cloud refers to the ability to access those files through the internet. Your data is usually encrypted before making the journey over the internet to the providers’ servers, and, while they live on those servers, they’re also encrypted. The services don’t upload entire files every time they change. They just upload the changes, saving your connection bandwidth.

Here are a few Cloud-based services in no particular order:

Microsoft OneDrive

Free 5GB
  • Paid Plan with more storage available

Apple
iCloud

Free 5GB
  • Paid Plan with more storage available

Dropbox
 

Free 2GB
  • Paid Plan with more storage available

Google
Drive

Free 15GB
  • Paid Plan with more storage available

Amazon
Cloud

Free 5GB
  • Paid Plan with more storage available

No these are not the ONLY cloud storage solutions out there, but they are by some of the most recognizable names. I personally use Dropbox’s Plus account. For $8.95 per month or $99 a year I get 1TB or storage and the ability to share folders with others. I use this mainly for work but if you had multiple computers in your house then everyone could install Dropbox, even on their devices, and sync to one storage solution. I’m not necessarily recommending Dropbox, it may not be what you need. So take a look at all the options and compare what is right for your needs.

Check out this article on Gizmodo comparing all of these storage solutions in more depth.