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We have all at some point dropped our computer, had a power failure, or clicked the wrong button and for an instant in time, our hearts stopped. “MY DATA!!!!!” we scream in our heads … What if something happened to my data!!!.

 

These days a lot of people meet this challenge, or believe they do, by copying their files to a USB drive or an external hard drive either on their desk beside them or in a closet somewhere. Your data is the most important thing on your computer. Be it family photos, important tax documents, pieces of art, your band’s music, sensitive research papers, or anything else, losing it is simply not an option. Unfortunately, computers fail, and often. Having a backup plan set before anything goes wrong is one of the most important tasks you will undertake as a responsible business owner or computer user.

How should you secure your data, your computer(s), your databases and your servers?

There are several free cloud services available that you can use as an always-online backup location for your files. These include Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, Apple iCloud, DropBox, and more. These services all come with a fair amount of space for free, and can be upgraded with more space for a fee and are a fairly decent option for the regular home computer user who wants to protect their pictures, videos and important documents. What these services lack however is automation and bullet proof security. We like to believe that none of these reputable companies WOULD read your data, but it can be scary to know they COULD. And following that same theme, if you leave your computer open, save your browser based passwords or worse, your provider gets hacked, then that information, those photos and videos, are available for anyone to see. Add to that the fact that if your computer dies, then all your programs, system state information and configurations are gone too.

 

If you want to properly secure your data, your very digital existence, there are a few things you need to focus on, and a lot you don’t.

First, a few facts for you to ponder while you search relentlessly online for the “best” backup option for your personal and business data.

1. If you store your backup data in the US, it is subject to the Patriot Act. It doesn’t matter where you are based, it doesn’t matter what agreement or promise you have from your vendor, it is ALL subject to the Act. Some vendors can guarantee your data is stored in Canada.

2. Honestly there are VERY few stand alone vendors. A great majority of the services you find online are doing one of a few things. They are reselling services, they are pushing your data to a massive cloud server shared with millions, or they are a 100% legitimate, caring, and professional company who truly cares about the sanctity and security of your data and about YOU.

3. Probably 90% of all “cloud” based backup services are hosted on Google, Amazon, Rackspace or Fast Comet. Seriously. Sure they have different names, wildly varying pricing and services and “wicked cool easy to use software” to facilitate your backups … but odds are good it is going to one of these providers

4. Unless you have the Encryption Key, and have been told that if you lose it your data is garbage, then someone, somewhere, besides you .. can read that data.

5. Price should not be the only deciding factor in where you decide to store and manage your backups. A lot of costs are “extra” and not obvious when you sign up. Is there a seeding service? is there a restore fee?  Are you just paying for “space”? Ask these questions and don’t be shy, it is your data after all and really, you are sort of screwed without it.

Now that you have some facts, do your research and ask questions. Just because you recognize a name or the price is “super cheap” it doesn’t mean it is the right solution for you and your business because really, what value CAN YOU put on that data? What value HAVE YOU put on that data?

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