Your data is of paramount importance. No matter whether you store sensitive customer data for your business, or you simply have an embarrassing number of cat videos, no one wants to wake up one morning and discover that their data is gone. The only way to fully protect yourself is to regularly backup your data so you can fully recover in the event of a disaster — you can’t recover data that you haven’t kept. But how confident are you that the data on which you depend on is backed up successfully?
When it comes to backups, you have options, and one of is close to home. Local backup gives you immediate, instant access to whatever data you might need back, regardless of whether it’s deleted, overwritten or lost. Benefits include:
- Security: With local backup, which is usually in the form of external hard drives, the data is just as protected as your network. Further, once it’s stored and the drive is disconnected, it’s safe from any malicious attacks that affect your infrastructure — giving you peace of mind.
- Speed: With on-site backups, speed is not limited by connectivity. Backing up all of your data to an external hard drive usually takes a fraction of the time required by cloud storage. And, after that initial backup, daily updating can be done in a few minutes.
- Control: With a local backup solution, you know exactly where your data is, and you retain control over who can and cannot access your files. Keeping an offline backup locally is a good way to ensure that your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Both Windows and Mac OS X have beefed up their built-in backup tools in recent years. Windows 10 includes a File History feature and a full disk backup feature, and OS X includes its Time Machine software. Both of these are well worth running. Here’s how to do it:
Local backup for a PC: To set up a File History backup to an external drive, open the File History app by typing “File History” into the Windows search bar or by opening the Start menu and then navigating to Settings, Update & Security, Backup. Click Add a drive and select your external drive from the list. Under More options you can add more folders to your backup (by default Windows 10 backs up all the folders within the Users folder), exclude folders, and change your backup settings. File History backs up new files every hour and saves backed up files forever; these default settings are fine for most people, but you can change them if you like.
Local backup for Mac: To set up an external drive as a Time Machine backup, you might simply need to connect the drive to your Mac: At that point macOS usually displays a dialog box asking if you want to use the drive to back up with Time Machine. Choose whether to encrypt the drive, click Use as Backup Disk, and you’re done.
Ready to get started? Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Create a checklist: Document the files and folders to be saved and back up the most important files first.
- Create a schedule: Consumers may want to back up important information once a week. Small businesses might do so daily. Most cloud services let you set up a fixed schedule so your data will back up automatically.
- Verify the backup: Load information from the storage device back to the computer to ensure that the data copy is intact.