If you’re like most people, you know there are many ways to back up your computer. When it comes to deciding which you should use, though, you’re not sure where to turn. Computer backup can be confusing.
While data backup is one of the most critical actions for computer owners, the variety of choices makes it a difficult process to navigate. Fortunately, understanding the difference between respective backup methods makes it easier to choose the combination that’s right for you.
3 Common Ways to Back up Your Computer
When it comes to data backup, there are a few methods people commonly use. Here are some of the most popular:
1. External Drives
External drives, including USB sticks and larger external hard drives, are a favorite backup method. The pros of backing up to an external drive include the fact that it’s fast and inexpensive, and that you won’t have to pay monthly subscription services to keep your data safe.
The only drawback is that it’s possible to lose the drive or damage it in an accident, fire, or flood, which would result in you losing all your files.
2. Internet-Based Backup
Web-based backup systems are becoming more and more popular. Today, companies like Carbonite offer cloud backup services and affordable monthly packages. Programs like these work in the background of your PC, backing up files to the cloud and saving data. If your computer ever crashes, or you purchase a new system, it’s easy to restore your data from the cloud.
While cloud-based backup services are useful and comprehensive, they can be expensive and may be out of reach for some consumers.
3. Free Cloud-Based Backups
There are paid cloud services, and then there are free services. The free services include Dropbox and Google Drive, both of which allow you to store files and sync online accounts for a more streamlined computer system.
These platforms are comprehensive and affordable, although the space they offer can be limited, and you may find yourself paying to purchase the storage you need.
Which Should You Use?
When it comes to backup methods, there’s a golden rule to abide by: one is never enough. Because all backup methods are vulnerable to dangers ranging from theft to physical damage, you’ll want to use at least two separate backup methods to ensure the safety of your data.
Computer experts recommend that residential consumers use both an onsite and offsite backup. Onsite backups are backup methods that stay at the same physical location as you (an external hard drive, for example), while offsite backups store your data at different locations (a cloud-based service or online server, for example).
While an onsite backup will be faster and easier to do, an offsite backup isn’t as vulnerable to theft or physical damage, which means it could be your only remaining backup if your house is ever robbed or affected by a natural disaster.
When you use two separate backup methods, you help secure your files and afford yourself peace of mind.
Take it One Step Further
Instead of relying on manual backups, automate your data backup process. When you “Set it and forget it,” you can stop thinking about uploading all your files every week or month, and trust that your automated system is backing up all your photos, videos, and documents, as you create and interact with them.
Certain services, like the paid BackBlaze and free Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive offer syncing services that can help you automate your data backup and ensure that you always have another file available.
If you have additional questions about your backup method, don’t hesitate to contact the data backup and recovery experts here at Computer CPR. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you find a solution that works for you.