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Family photos. Important tax documents. Everyday tasks and to-do lists.
Your family has thousands of important digital files you don’t want to lose, which is why secure digital storage is such an important investment. There are numerous data backup methods out there—which is best for your cherished files?
Here are some tips that can help you store and protect your digital assets.
When you rely on only one method of storage—whether it’s a hard drive or a cloud-based storage system—you’re putting your data at risk in the event of a failure.
“I’ve had hard drives fail throughout my career,” award-winning National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale told the New York Times. “Back when I first started as a photographer, I had a very nice hard drive system in my home, and the whole thing failed. I lost some historic moments from the first part of my career, and they’re gone forever.”
Even the most trustworthy storage systems can run into issues. Hard copies can get corrupted or damaged, and cloud storage can be hacked or experience server issues. Because Murphy’s law strikes when you least expect it, you should always back up your images and documents in multiple places.
While you can mix products and services to suit your needs and budget, it’s important to have multiple backups to ensure your documents are always available.
Chances are that your important files are saved to your computer, but computers are finicky beasts and can fail without warning. To secure everything from your tax docs to your favorite pet photos, you’ll want to create a physical backup on all of your family’s computers.
One of the most popular backup options is an external hard drive, like the My Book desktop hard drive from Western Digital, which allows you to make a copy of a computer’s hard drive. These devices are typically connected to your computer via USB cord, and if you have a desktop model, you can simply leave the external drive plugged in so it’s always up-to-date. If you use a laptop, you may prefer a portable external hard drive, such as those from the well-regarded brand Seagate, which you can plug in periodically to back up new files.
There are other physical backup options, too. If you’re backing up multiple computers, you might consider a network-attached storage device, like the ones from Asustor. It’s like a private cloud for your home! Alternatively, you can back up files to thumbnail drives or even CDs and DVDs.
External hard drives are great, but they can get lost, stolen, damaged, or corrupted, so it’s important to make a backup of your backup. Luckily, services like Backblaze and Carbonite make it easy. Cloud-based backup services typically charge a monthly or yearly fee, and once they’re installed onto your computer, they’ll automatically create backups of all your files. It’s pretty much a set-it-and-forget-it solution.
You can also upload files and photos to Google Drive, which provides 15 GB of free storage. If you’re only interested in storing photos, Google Photos is the way to go. It lets you store an unlimited number of images and videos, as long as they’re each under 16MP and 1080p HD. The downside to this option is that you have to manually upload your files—but it will save you money in the long run.
You might think that because you’ve uploaded your images to social media, you can use your social profiles as a secondary backup. But there are a few issues with relying on social platforms on the internet to house your important files.
Media uploaded to social media sites is often compressed from its original form, so you’ll likely lose image or video quality if you ever re-download them. Additionally, social media accounts are frequently the target of hackers—one survey found that nearly two-thirds of social media users have been hacked at least once, BusinessWire reports. If your account is compromised, you might lose your photos and files. If your social media photos aren’t currently saved elsewhere, you’ll want to back them up by exporting a copy of your data from the site.
There are numerous digital storage options out there. While you can mix products and services to suit your needs and budget, it’s important to have multiple backups to ensure your documents are always available—even when something (inevitably!) goes awry.