By Paolo Chlebecek
You hear a report from the news that an impending crisis is heading your way. You have only moments to react. What do you do?
Far too often these days, we hear of various instances all over the world where people must flee their homes to avoid serious consequences. Sadl,y many are not prepared for such events and thus suffer more than they might’ve. Can you avoid the last minute panic? If you had to go now, what would you grab? Many people say photos or photo albums. But is that practical with all of the digital media now prevalent in these times? Does your smart phone have all of your data?
I have often extolled the virtues of off-site backups of your data. While there are many to choose from, there are only a few worth mentioning. Carbonite and Mozy, while not the only ones, are among the most recognized and reliable on the market today. I have been using them faithfully for backups and restoration of data for years. There are others to be sure — Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive from Microsoft, iCloud, and Evernote to name a few. In any case, it’s time, my friends, to stop what you’re doing and make a choice.
Thankfully, if you have either an Android or Apple smartphone, there’s a built in backup that you can use right now for free, and that’s a good price. But it’s limited in storage space, and won’t automatically backup all of your devices and computers for you. You can buy additional storage from either company to be sure there is enough room for all of your digital snapshots, but let’s be realistic. Most of us say “I’ll get to it when I have time,” until that day comes when your phone is still lost or stolen without a backup. Worse yet, there’s a disaster at home, whether it be water damage or fire, and your entire tech at home is rendered useless. What then?
Easy answer: Get an automated offsite backup solution. Once the appropriate software is installed and configure properly for all — ahem, all — of your devices, it should be a simple matter of “set it and forget it.” When it comes to backing up you have to take the human element out of the equation. Sorry, but it’s true. It’s too easy to forget to backup, so most software has a simple schedule or even continuous backup option.
“I have an external hard drive, so I’ll grab it if I need to get out fast,” you say. Sure, that’s good. In fact I recommend that as well. Don’t even take the cables — it takes too much time and the cable can easily be purchased again if needed, but not your priceless data. It should be part of your BOB: Bug Out Bag. You know, the bag you keep by the door for just such emergencies. You have a BOB, right? That’s great, but what if you aren’t at home or work? Maybe there’s a lightning strike or a terrible storm or fire and there simply isn’t time for anything except to get you and your family out as fast as possible.
Far too often, I have heard people say, “Then before I knew it all my data was gone!” And it’s not always from a disaster. Sometimes it’s from a malicious virus or ransomware. What’s ransomware? Trend Micro, a leading Antivirus software manufacturer, defines ransomware as “A type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system, either by locking the system’s screen or by locking the users’ files unless a ransom is paid.”
How can you prevent this from happening? Well for starters, have a backup. But more about protecting yourself from ransomware in an upcoming article.
For now, let’s not dwell on the negative, but as the Boy Scouts say, “Always be prepared.”
Paolo Chlebecek is founder and owner of PaoloTek, which he started in 2003. He loves to be helpful to people and our animal friends. Feel free to contact him at Paolo@PaoloTek.Com.