I Got Your Back (Up)

After my last blog post, many people asked me to go into more depth about the best ways to back up their data. While we all know the importance of backing up our files, it’s often one of the most neglected acts of basic computer maintenance. But as anyone who’s experienced a computer crash can tell you, losing your most important data — personal and professional — is an unmitigated disaster that can end in tears. Don’t let this happen to you.

So, here are a few more useful tips that will help you keep your data safe and secure:

First, keep track of where you store your information. While keeping your files organized is good for workflow, consolidating your data also makes it easier for data specialists to recover those files if your hard drive crashes.

Second, schedule a regular backup. It’s a simple process that requires simply an external hard drive and approximately 30 minutes. Plug the external drive into your computer’s USB and follow the prompts that guide you through making it your default backup drive. Once the process is complete, your operating system will regularly and automatically back up your computer.

Third, sign up for a cloud storage service. Dropbox, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon offer cloud services with differing amounts of free and paid storage space. While the one you choose is mostly a matter of preference, these services ensure that your most important files are backed up and available no matter where you are.

Finally, keep physical copies of your most valuable documents. While digital storage has many advantages, there’s nothing like having a hard copy of a file that was lost or accidently deleted.

But no matter what solution you choose, you must always be proactive. Because although I got your back (up), you have to always watch your front.

Protecting Your Data: Basic Steps

As computer and internet usage rises, your data and technology profile continues to grow and define you, while privacy vulnerabilities continue to increase. From the information you share on the web to the data collected by all the companies with which you interact, there’s plenty of information available about you on the internet.

Since you’re leading more of your life on computers, smartphones and tablets, it’s critical to ensure that you’re taking the most basic steps to protect sensitive data.

First, take your data seriously by having multiple backup locations. In the unfortunate event that your computer crashes and you didn’t back up your files, that data is lost forever. As a safeguard, use an external hard-drive or cloud storage service to back up your most important information.

Second, just because you delete something doesn’t mean that it can’t be recovered. But there are file scrubbing applications that will permanently delete your recycled files. This is especially important if you’re removing sensitive personal information such as financial records that you may have accessed on a shared computer.

Third, be wary of the sites you visit, especially if you’re downloading third-party software. Some sites host legitimate third-party applications that they bundle with Trojans and other types of malware. Many anti-virus programs provide browser extensions which inform you about unsecure and dangerous websites. Use these tools as an internet roadmap so you’ll know which places to avoid.

This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means. But following at least a few of these steps is a good way to start protecting your data and regaining some control over your technology profile.