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How to Protect and Back Up Your Computer

Written by Kelley Keehn

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

In a recent article, we covered the dangers of ransomware and the number one tip from our expert was: Back up! Back up! Back up (your computer)!

So we've gone back to David Papp, Edmonton-based tech expert specializing in Social Media, Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Technology Management to find out exactly how to back up our computers and digital assets.

"When it comes to protecting your digital assets, like files, documents and photos, on your personal computers and devices, you must take responsibility to ensure your data has been backed up," says Papp. "Don't assume it's being done and don't assume that it's working."

Papp also highly recommends having several copies, one onsite near you and another copy offsite somewhere safe, at minimum.

"Onsite backups don't help for situations of fire, flood, and theft," he explains. "However, onsite backups are quicker to restore and retrieve files you need right away. Offsite backups are your last resort when something bad has unfortunately happened and you need to recover data that is no longer easily accessible."

Hard Drives and Memory Sticks

Papp thinks external hard drives and memory sticks are "great for quick ways to back up files onsite."

However, he adds: "You must be aware of the physical security for these external devices. If they're not encrypted and/or physically locked up, it would be easy for someone to grab and have access to everything on them."

How to Back Up Offsite

First, Papp recommends that you physically take a copy of your data offsite on a regular basis.

Second, he stresses the importance of using an automated program that uses your Internet connection. Internet connections are generally very slow when sending a large number of files.

His favorite program option is "anything that doesn't involve something manual to occur" and believes the best course of action is "to remove the human factor. If you're relying on someone to do a back up, or to take a memory device offsite on a regular basis, it will likely not be done when you need it. Therefore, automated programs are preferred."

David tells us that online backup programs have evolved over time and are a great solution to consider for your offsite backups. "They're generally all automated and they back up all your important files on your device. Do your homework when finding an online backup solution."

Questions to Ask When Researching a Backup Solution:

  1. Are they reputable?

  2. Do they offer flat rate plans and unlimited data?

As a tech expert, Papp's favorite personal online backup solution is Backblaze. He also has several encrypted external hard drives that he rotates to a fire safe.

Why?

"So, there's always one copy locked away and everything is never out in the open."

Always Make Sure Your Backups are Working

"Take responsibility to verify that your backups are occurring and don't have any errors," Papp says. "It's a common problem I encounter when helping out clients. They assumed that their backups were running and then something bad happens, and they realize they can't recover anything because their backups were not running automatically."

Even if someone else is managing your backup solution, it's still your responsibility to inquire if those backups are occurring, whether they're offsite, and when they were most recently tested.

Papp's bottom tech line?

"Losing data is a horrible experience. Don't assume anything; take responsibility."

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