When it comes to using computers, the most frustrating thing is encountering an unexpected error and suddenly losing access to all your stored information – photos, applications, documents, all lost because of a single malfunction, or even worse, ransomware locks your computer. In this article, we will outline the importance of backing up your computer, and the most secure methods to do so!
Why is backing up your computer important?
Backing up your computer not only frees up storage on your device so it can perform faster, but also provides peace of mind knowing that your files are safe, and better yet recoverable. If your computer were to crash and lose any of its precious contents, you can use a saved backup to restore your computer to a previous date. You no longer have to worry about a crash or ransomware wreaking havoc on your computer, when you know your files are stored elsewhere, just in case!
The best defense against Ransomware
Backing up your files is the best defense against ransomware! When it comes to computer viruses, ransomware is one of the scariest. Ransomware poses a potentially devastating threat to both companies and individual users alike. It holds your computer and its data hostage until you pay the ransom to unlock your files. Simply removing the virus is not a solution, as your personal files will remain encrypted without the password/code. Often these ransom messages will appear to come from the police, the FBI, or other reputable sources, but none of these bodies would ever lock up a computer and encrypt your files.
FixMeTip: You can use the FixMeStick to remove ransomware, but your files will still be encrypted! This is why it’s so important to make sure you have a recent backup.
Here are some reasons why you should back up your computer files:
- Computer Theft – Do you take your computer to public places like the bus, a cafe, or the local library? Consider backing up your files because losing an entire laptop to theft means you might never get those files back.
- Computer Crashes & Damages – Computer crashes and damage tend to come at the most unexpected times. Let’s say you are drinking your morning coffee and typing away on your computer. What happens if you accidentally spill your coffee onto your computer?
- Hard Drive Failure – hard drives serve as the home for most of the files on your computer. They have a limited lifespan and can fail suddenly. The sudden loss of a hard drive can result in the total loss of all your files if you do not have them backed up in another place.
Which is safer? Using a hard drive or the cloud?
A cloud-based backup is typically more convenient than backing up your files on an external drive. Services such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or iCloud, will automatically sync your files to your online account, which can be accessed from other computers (and the StartMeStick!)
However, while convenient, cloud-based backup isn’t the most secure option. Any cloud-based system comes with its own security risks and hacking vulnerabilities. Whereas external hard drives exist offline and do not have the same vulnerability.
iCloud, for example, suffered a major hacking in 2014, which left many unsure about the software’s security. An iCloud hack can be conducted by obtaining a victim’s Apple ID and password. If a hacker gains your login information, your data can then be extracted from the cloud.
This is just another testimony to the importance of backing up your sensitive files onto an external device. Backing up your files to a physical storage device is the only way you can be confident you will be the only one to ever have access to it!
Want to learn how hackers can steal your login information for Microsoft and Apple? Check out this article HERE!
Keep your files safe using an external hard drive
Again, while cloud-based backups save your files online, an external hard drive exists offline. This means it is not vulnerable to hacking and is completely inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t plug the drive directly into their computer. The best feature is that it stores your files offline, leaving you with a secure backup of all your files.
FixMeTip: Scan your files with FixMeStick before making a backup so you know your files are safe from malware!
Using an external offline device to backup your files, rather than a cloud-based backup is even recommended by top security agencies like the DHS, the CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), and NASCIO (National Association of State Chief Information Officers). Using an external, offline backup is their main solution to protect oneself against ransomware and data extraction.
Using an offline external device is definitely the safest method to create a backup. You keep your files for your eyes only and steer clear from hacking vulnerabilities you would get while using online services.
Do you back up your computer regularly to an external device? Why/why not? Let us know in the comments below!