Now that more and more data is being shared and stored electronically, it's important to make sure that your important information is protected.
Statistics vary some on this topic but generally speaking data-loss can be broken down into five categories (ranked from most common to least):
- Hardware or System Malfunctions: ~44%
- Human Error: ~32%
- Software Corruption: ~14%
- Virus: ~7%
- Natural Disaster:~3%
How do you protect your information knowing this? Generally speaking the more important a piece of data is to you, the more varied places you should store it – you should never have important information stored on any less than two different locations/mediums. The way you back up your data is also very important - some ways can be better than others.
- The Help Desk suggests that you can use your personal network "H" drive to save important documents (like your senior thesis!) - though keep it to documents as you do have limited space. This folder is backed up every night and is likely the safest location to backup your important data. A Faculty or Staff member should also have a Department "I" drive that can be used in much the same way - though keep personal information stored elsewhere. Online data storage from a 3rd party vendor may be helpful as well, especially if you can recover data from different times in the past.
- The next best backup location (and for other information such as your entire music collection, family photo-abums or other items that can take up a significant amount of space) we suggest using an external hard-drive or USB Flash drive. These devices can sometimes come with built-in utilities to make backing your data up a breeze (Time-Machine on a Mac is a good example). External drives can provide a significant amount of backup storage space - but keep in mind that these drives tend to be mechanical in nature (they have moving parts) and can fail. USB Flash drives are not mechanical and can be much more reliable than standard external drives but offer significantly less space (and a higher cost). With this in mind you'll want to use what's best for your needs.
- An alternative method of backing up your data is to burn it to a Bluray/DVD/CD disk - they offer a varied amount of storage space and can be useful for long term storage if handled properly. This may be a more cumbersome way to back up data (many disks to hold all your data) but is by far one of the cheapest. If the disks are stored properly they can last upwards of 10 years or more.
Again with any of these methods, for any backup to be a true backup you must have the data stored in at least two different places or mediums. A very economical way to give yourself extra data protection (especially at home) would be to have an external drive for your main backup and then burn the same data to as many DVD's as needed (and store them in a safe location). That way if by some chance you have an accident and your laptop and external drive ends up in a river (as external drives tend to hang around with the computer that's using it) - you'll still have your data!
If you have any other questions or need some quick tips or help with properly backing up your data please feel free to call or email the Help Desk!