Are you prepared to lose a hard drive? Even for the most tech-savvy among us, there are several ways that data loss can occur: Your machine is lost, stolen or broken; your backups aren’t run frequently enough; the backups aren’t appropriately or securely stored; your backup plan hasn’t been thoroughly tested; and more!

Today we’ll continue our Quick Security Tip series and take a look at the crucial aspects of data backups at both the consumer and corporate level. If nothing else, use this post as a reminder to make sure your IT has a clear strategy for backups that will work for your business.

Backups for Consumers

If your main PC at home was lost or stolen, or your hard drive failed, what would you lose? Personal information? Pictures and videos? Passwords? At every level today, it’s not a matter of if a hard drive will fail, but when it will fail, so preparation is a must!

In addition to a failure, you might also want to recover/restore data when you get a new PC and want to transfer all your data. In this case, having a solid backup is a huge convenience that will save you from having to manually copy and move everything, or spending time double- and triple-checking to make sure you grabbed all the files you need. The time to download a full restoration can be lengthy, but it’s well worth it for a complete backup!

There are several local and virtual/cloud backup options to consider at the consumer level:

  • Windows 7 and Windows 10 have “Backup and Restore” features that you can schedule or use manually to send data to another hard drive or the cloud.
  • Time Machine is a great option for Mac users that is built right into the OS; it provides a local backup of all your data to an external hard drive.
  • Carbonite is a set-it-and-forget-it application that automatically backs up your data to the cloud.
  • Western Digital offers a My Cloud external hard drive that syncs to the cloud — a solution that you could use in conjunction with Time Machine on a Mac.

Backups for Organizations

Perhaps the most important part of a backup plan for a company (aside from actually having a plan!) is making sure employees have been trained about file storage and understand that their files should be stored on a backed up company file server, or SharePoint or other cloud environment. They should not be saving files directly to the PC, as data at the corporate level should never be put at risk due to a lost or compromised machine.

Here are some good corporate-level backup options:

  • Virtualization as a whole (there are several providers) is a fundamental component of your backup strategy. You need to restore data using snapshots of virtual instances, not a backup on tape!
  • File History is an option on Windows 8 and higher that you can enable to back up files from libraries, the desktop, contacts and favorites to the cloud every hour. If your people already have several places they store their files, this solution can be very easily integrated.
  • Datto backs up locally saved data and files to a virtual machine so users can keep working in the case of a hard drive failure or other machine issue.

Regardless of what provider you choose, it is crucial to actually have a backup strategy, which includes implementing it, as well as regular testing. It’s no good to have a plan only to find out it doesn’t work when you need it! Don’t wait for a data breach or other disaster; get a comprehensive backup strategy in place today!