I remember when I was given my first 2 GB hard drive. I said, “I will NEVER fill that up!” Now, I’m having a hard time figuring out if I need to delete files or upgrade my 1 TB of storage.
Between the software we use, our digital music collections, thousands of documents and digital photos, we can easily fill a hard drive in no time.
The price of storage is so low, that we take it for granted: we save everything, we know we should back it up, but a very small percentage of people I come in contact with actually do anything to protect that data.
I speak from personal experience when it comes to data security. I have had a laptop stolen, I’ve had hard drives fail, I’ve lost USB thumb drives and I work all day on three different computers.
Protect Your Data
Especially if you use USB thumb drives or carry a laptop, you need to secure your data. A lost or stolen device in the wrong hands could be very problematic for years to come. I use TrueCrypt to protect my systems. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. I have chosen to set my system up so that when the computer starts up, it asks for a password to gain access to any files on the computer, but they also offer the option of only encrypting certain files or directories. It is very easy to install and you won’t even know it’s there.
Many people gravitate to external hard drives with backup software. This isn’t idiot-proof enough for me. Like TrueCrypt, I wanted something automatic that requires no thought. On my desktop, I utilize RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives). Basically, I have two physical hard drives in my computer, but they only show up as one. Every time I write a file, it is written to both drives. So when (not if) one drive fails, I have a complete copy. I finally did this after I had lost my entire digital photo and music collection due to a disk failure. About a month ago, one of the drives in my system died, but I lost no data due to RAID. RAID is becoming an available option from many computer manufacturers such as Dell, HP and Lenovo so look for it on your next computer purchase.
Unfortunately due to size limitations, RAID isn’t a viable option on a compact laptop such as mine. Again, I wanted something that was a no-brainer. That’s where Mozy comes in. I pay $55 per year per machine to have unlimited, automatic, off site backups. The first backup takes some time, but incremental backups after that are very quick. If my house burns down, RAID isn’t going to help me, but I can have Mozy mail me DVD’s of my data and get back up and running very quickly. I run this on all of my machines and the peace of mind is well worth the money spent. They offer 2 GB of backup for free, which is probably enough for documents, but not pictures or music.
I see more and more people working with multiple computer systems, frequently a laptop for most items and a more powerful desktop for photo/video manipulation. In my case, I have a Windows XP laptop, a Mac Mini desktop and a Windows Vista Tablet that I need to keep my data consistent across.
I tried quite a few different programs that all promised to sync easily across systems, but narrowed it down to one that actually works called SugarSync. Pricing starts at $24.99 for 10 GB of storage. Simply choose the directories you want to keep synced and anytime a file is changed or created, it is uploaded to their service. When the other computers are connected to the internet, they sync from the site to the computer, keeping all computers working with the same copies of your files. It also provides for web based access if you need to access a file from someone else’s computer.
You Have Car Insurance, Right?
Think of this as insurance for your precious data. For an extra $150 when I built my computer, I have hardware redundancy and for less than $7 per month I have complete data protection in the event of loss or theft, off-site backups, multiple computer syncing and online access to my important files. And it’s worth every penny.