For all the seemingly billion perks computers have afforded us, there is one inevitable downfall: the crash. According to Scientific American, computer crashes are common and can be caused by a variety of factors. Errors in the software, hardware errors, power outages, failure of the computer’s memory, heat, age, and even user error can all cause a PC or laptop to unexpectedly shut down, leaving the person who owns it to rely on backup.
When it comes to backing up your information, several options are available. The best choice likely lies in the kind of backup you desire, as well as your budget.
External Hard Drives
Among the most common methods for backing up data is the external hard drive. While these were once expensive, the invention of other backup options has caused the prices to decrease dramatically. Nowadays, you may be able to find hard drives for under a hundred dollars. These hard drives usually have a large number of gigabytes, giving you plenty of room to protect any data you want. Some of the most popular external hard drives are the ones made by LaCie and Seagate.
Today there is almost nothing we can’t do online; this includes storing data. A particular perk of online storage is the ability to share between several PCs. This is ideal if you want to access your work files while at your home office. Some online storage programs will also sync your data for you, meaning you don’t have to worry about losing anything valuable. Two online file storage services available are Mozy and Dropbox. Dropbox, specifically, is ideal for people who only want to store a small amount of data as they offer free 2 GB of online storage. If you are planning on backing up a large amount of data, Mozy may be the better option. For less than 14 dollars a month, Mozy will back up your data so that it will be safe no matter what happens to your computer.
There are many advantages to flash drives, mainly their price; you should be able to find one for $10-$20. Because you can literally transport them in a pocket, they are also ideal for backing up items like presentations, proposals, or other important work documents. A flash drive is the perfect way to keep your data safe from viruses or hackers. However, they do have one downfall – their size. Since they are so small, it can be just as easy to lose them as it is to transport them. Thus, flash drives are best if you aren’t the type of person who regularly misplaces car keys.
Depending on your computer, you may already have a built-in backup system. Macintosh, for instance, offers the Time Machine. This internal backup allows you the option of restoring your data to a previously saved point (such as a specific day) or allows you to find one file from weeks earlier.
Similar to online storage, cloud storage is a type of backup where your data is kept in virtual pools hosted by a third party. The advantages to cloud storage are that you only have to pay for storage you actually use, you can choose between off-premise and on-premise storage (or a mixture), the hosting provider is responsible for maintenance tasks, and users have immediate access to the hosting site’s applications. Though some hosting sites offer free cloud storage if you sign up for their services, cloud storage is generally not cost effective for the individual. Instead, it is ideal for corporations and small businesses.
Antivirus software is an important purchase for any computer user. Not only can a hacker attack your computer and infect it with a virus, but opening a seemingly harmless email can also break your computer beyond repair. Antivirus software is a proactive way to protect your data. It’s also affordable – you can find it for as low as $30.
In the U.S., 70 percent of power outages are a result of weather, which makes them unavoidable. Lightning, hail, wind, rain, snow, and dust can all cause the power in your house to suddenly shut off. If your computer doesn’t have a surge protector this can cause irreversible damage. Thus, for a price of $25, surge protectors are one of the most affordable ways to protect your data, photos, and music collections.
This article was contributed by CJ Gordon, gadget enthusiast, avid blogger and self-professed tech junky. He recommends the APC Battery to keep your devices running and your information saved, even when disaster strikes and the power goes down.