Remember the movies that depicted a very important government operative carrying a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist? Usually, the agent was carrying an extraordinary amount of money or the codes to launch a nuclear device ... not to mention a nervous disposition.
If something happened to the agent with the briefcase, we were certainly in for at least an hour-and-a-half of stressful “bad guy chasing.” Protecting that briefcase was important enough to invest in a pair of handcuffs (which evidently only prevents the briefcase from being inadvertently left in a restroom). What they needed was real protection.
Each of us has files on our computer that we need to protect: family photos, extensive MP3 collections, digital books, journal entries, family history documents, work materials and more. They may not be the codes that will send us into World War III or enough cash to buy a small country, but they are nonetheless important (and real).
The problem with a guy with a briefcase is that there isn’t any backup system. The briefcase with the handcuff is apparently the last line of defense. We can do better with our computer files. The key is to get our files to a safe place, far away from our computer. Let’s look at two of the more popular options:
One way to backup data is to copy files to an external hard drive or DVD. In theory, this is a good way to add a layer of protection for your data ... in practicum, however, things happen. The burglar who breaks into your office can easily grab the external drives on his way out the door. A fire will not magically skip the backup devices when it ravages through the home. Floodwater destroys backup devices just like everything else. You could put your backup drives in a safe-deposit box, but are you realistically going to go to the bank every time you take a new series of pictures or download a song?
Another (and frankly a better) option is to store your files on a secure, online server. By copying your files to an outside location, you separate the “targets,” so to speak. If there were two guys with briefcases, that movie may have gone a little more smoothly. Online backup systems offer virtually endless space and state-of-the-art security for your priceless data.
Online backup systems come in all shapes and sizes. Some are noticeably easier to use than others, and these “cleaner” functioning services don’t bombard your computer with unnecessary software programs. A good online backup service will require you to download a small program to assist you in transferring files, allow the service to automatically perform backups, and permit easy retrieval of your files when needed.
Security on online servers is sufficient to allow you to rest easy. Typically, online backup services encrypt the data leaving your computer, and then encrypt it again at its final resting place. By scattering data and maintaining a central, secure system, online backups ensure that your files will be completely safe.
As always, Computer Problem Specialists is available to help you set up an online backup system for your data. No more worries … no more handcuffs. You are free to relax — your data will be in good hands (and it won’t be strapped to the wrist of some poor guy in a suit).
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.