As computers have developed, the methods of backing up important data have changed considerably. Originally most backups were done on “floppy disks.” As data capacity grew, this method became fairly exhaustive as backup sets spanned across many floppy disks. This issue was solved by the introduction of CD burners, followed by DVD burners. Over the last few years burning backup DVD’s has become as tiresome as the old floppy disk backups, as 4 GB of data is no longer adequate for most people’s data.
So what is the solution? Well there are two, which are best used in conjunction with each other.
First Backup Method – “Cloud Storage”
Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft (and others) all offer some limited free disk space. Often the free space is around 1 Gigabyte (GB) of storage. This storage space is perfect for the most valuable files that you own, likely being personal resume’s and other documents. The upside of storing data on the cloud, is that it is accessible from nearly any other computer. The downside is that 1GB is not a large capacity. For a small fee most of these companies will increase the data storage to 5-10Gb. Again this is useful for a fraction of your data. Be warned though, that storing data on the cloud also costs you in terms of your monthly download quota. If you have a small amount of data allowance from your internet provider, you may use a considerable amount of that quota.
Second Backup Method – “External Hard Disk”
External hard disks offer capacities from 500GB up to 4TB (terabytes or 4000 GB). They connect to your computer through the USB port of your computer. This method of backing up data is ideal for the bulk files of your computer, or a complete system backup. Data transfer speeds are good, although it may still take a few hours to backup your entire computer. If possible buy a drive that is USB3.0 compatible as these disks offer the greatest speeds now. The downside to this method of backing up, is that if you lose the external hard disk, or it becomes corrupted, you have lost your single source of backup. The cost of an external hard disk is often around $100, and they are freely available from Harvey Norman or OfficeWorks. Another downside to external hard drives is that since they are really not built to be portable devices, accessing the data from outside your house can be difficult. This is where the “cloud” solutions mentioned above become important. In the last few years routers commonly found in people’s homes have been updated to sometimes include USB connectors, which when you plug your external hard drive into, become a local version of a “cloud drive.” With some further setup of the router it may even be possible to reach the hard drive remotely, although this is probably beyond the skills of the novice user. It is an effective and cheap method to gain a large backup storage that is available to everyone within your household, and can share files between the members of the house.
Therefore we recommend a combination of Cloud Storage and External hard disk drives as the best solution to the ever-growing data needs of regular users. Place all the most commonly used files on a cloud storage solution, and all the bulk backup data on an external hard drive. If you feel technically savvy you can turn your external hard drive into your own cloud storage solution using the latest generation of routers. By backing up regularly you can cut the risks of the loss of your data, and reduce the time it takes for a broken computer to be repaired and fully working again.
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