The other day I was talking to one of our more philosophical clients and he said, "You know Mike, what takes a lifetime to compile can be destroyed in a second."
He was referring to the data on his hard drive, including pictures of weddings, vacations and children's birthday parties, etc.
Unfortunately, we are in a business that sees this kind of thing happen every day. Most times we can bring those pictures and old memories back to life by means of data recovery software or simply transferring data to another hard drive, but with all of the storage devices available today, I am baffled by how many people still are not backing up their data. It is inexpensive and can save you losing your lifetime memories.
There are companies who specialize in online backups. This is especially vital for businesses but can and is used for everyday people. If this sounds like the right thing for you, I would call GoDaddy at (480) 505-8877 and ask how this all works. They have a program that allows you to share files online with others. If you get error messages every time you try to e-mail some big file to a client or family member, you can give them access to this file online. Sounds like a great deal to me, is incredibly cheap and they are local! This may be the answer to your backup needs.
"But Mike, I am a little concerned about people handling my sensitive data like passwords and such online. I don't even know these guys."
The transfer and storage of your data is encrypted and secure but if you are still a bit concerned, maybe a portable hard drive is the way for you to go. When portable hard drives first came out, they used to be 60 to 80 Gigabytes and sold for under $100. Now they are considerably larger and go from 120 GB to Terabytes (1,000 Gigabytes). That is huge!
The price has gone up as well so be prepared to shell out a few sheckles unless you can find a sale. These portable hard drives come with backup software that is sometimes confusing and needs to be checked periodically to ensure it is functioning properly, but the cool thing about portable hard drives is you can use them for other things as well. You can set up the portable to backup your system but if you are networked, you can backup all the computers on your network and still have room for storing vital documents, pictures, etc., and take them to other computers, although then you lose your backup functionality. If this is the way you decide to go, just remember one thing, these devices do fail. Trust me! We treat our portable backups with roughly the same care as someone who has just missed a 2-foot putt would treat his putter so no wonder we go through a number of them. I have had five or six of them since they first came out so be prepared for this inevitability. This may be the way you want to go and I would encourage this rather than nothing.
Jump drives or Flash drives are also another option for backing up your data. They are inexpensive and easy to use, but the great thing about them is their portability. Save data on a jump drive and you can take it to another computer and use it immediately. I have four or five of them at all times in my case.
Burning CDs and DVDs is another great way to back up your files. If you choose to do this, you can spend a few hours every month backing up files and burning your data to these devices. This is probably the safest way to backup because nobody has any access to your data but you. The drawback here is you have to remember to do it. If you are a regimented individual, I say "Go for it" but for my time and money I am going with the easiest and fastest way and have the fine folks at GoDaddy do it all for me.
Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services and lives in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (480) 753-7667.