If you’ve been putting off a thorough backup of your computer and smart devices (hey, we all do it), the New Year is a great time to embrace the task. Not only will it clear space for new files and photos, it’ll give you peace of mind knowing that you have solid copies of all your most important data, should your computer crash or phone go missing (my worst nightmare scenario).
Whereas doing a full hard drive backup used to take all day and multiple disks back in the day, now you can get the whole thing done in a matter of minutes or hours (depending on how much you need to back up, of course). Here are three easy places to back up your digital life — just a few clicks (or taps) and you’ll start off the New Year on the right foot.
External Hard Drive
The easiest way to backup your entire computer is on an external hard drive — or even two stored in different locations, in case one of them is compromised. My general rule of thumb is to choose a drive with at least double the amount of space as your computer, so you have room for more than one backup. A few years ago, these were pretty hefty, but now you can store multiple terabytes on a single, portable drive — especially great news if you’re a freelancer or frequent traveler who’d like to carry a backup with you wherever you go.
Don’t want to keep track of physical drives? Back everything up to the cloud — a virtual external hard drive that’s powered by a remote server. While an initial backup of an entire computer can take a while, once you’re in the habit of copying files to the cloud, it’s a super convenient way to back everything up on the go — and you can access your files from literally anywhere because it’s all backed up online. The only downside is that you’ll have to entrust all of your computer or smartphone’s contents to a cloud hosting service, which makes some people a little uncomfortable (the top-rated services promise that your stuff is encrypted and secured, but still…). If you’re not 100 percent sold, try it with your photos first — Google Photos is my new favorite, and provides unlimited storage.
For your most important files or those you access most, consider carrying a tiny, portable thumb drive. Though it has the least amount of space of these three options — it definitely won’t hold an entire computer’s worth of files, for example — it’s a convenient way to carry just what you need wherever you go. Most are small enough to fit on a key ring and are built to literally plug into your computer’s USB port.
All of the Above
I’m an advocate of having your data backed up in multiple places, in case a cloud account gets hacked or you lose a drive, so it’s great peace of mind to know that you have those important documents in multiple places should you lose them. I wouldn’t recommend this for active files (the ones you’re still working on) because then you get into a pickle managing versions… but at least you know your treasured photos or just-finished manuscript won’t suddenly vanish.
Do you regularly back up your digital life? Let me know in the comments!