How to Save Yourself (and Your Data)

Since the dawn of computers, users have been plagued by the constant threat of losing all of their work in one, horrible moment.  Even though the technology of computers has progressed enormously since they were created, memory loss is still a possibility.

Backing up your data is the only way to ensure that all of your data is safe.  Fortunately, there are several methods to backing up computer data, each with its own benefits and disadvantages.

Memory Stick

Storing data on a flash drive, a memory stick, is possibly the easiest method.  It involves inserting the stick into the USB port on the computer.  Once the computer has recognized the flash drive, the user can then drag all of their files into the flash drive.  Memory sticks are useful for two main reasons.  First, most memory sticks have a fast transfer rate compared to the other methods, and data can be moved to and from the drive very easily.  Second, memory sticks are inherently safe from prying eyes.  It is impossible for a malicious hacker to access the flash drive remotely, and most memory sticks can even be encrypted with a password in case it is stolen.  The disadvantage of memory sticks is size—the largest reach 32 GB.  This is enough space to store typed documents, photos, and a few thousand songs, but it isn’t enough space to store video or large quantities of documents.  Memory sticks are best for users looking for a private, quick, easy-to-use solution to save only their most essential files.

Server/Cloud Storage

Cloud storage involves using the internet to store data across a network.  Basically, your computer sends files to an online service, which sends the data to databases for storage.  Examples of these services include Carbonite, Mozy, and Quanp, each of which provides a different level of memory and protection to your files.  An advantage to server storage is its diversity—since this method involves sending your data to a third party, there are many companies willing to provide storage space, some for a price.  Carbonite, for example, provides unlimited memory for a monthly subscription, while Mozy has several different payment plans, each offering a different amount of memory.  Most companies will even provide a limited amount of memory for free.  Another advantage of this method is its capacity to be automated.  Once established with permission to access your computer, the server will automatically back up any work you create.  All of the data that is retrieved is also encrypted to protect against privacy violations by hackers or malicious software.  Encryption does not guarantee the data, of course, but none of the major companies have ever had any problems with privacy violation.  Subscribing to an online storage service is best for convenient, automatic backups, but at a monthly price.

External Hard Drives

External hard drives are similar to server storage in that there are many options to choose from—but that’s where the similarities end.  External hard drives function in the same way as large flash drives and typically require their own power source.  Most external hard drives are drag-and-drop, like flash drives, but many can be automated to copy any saved files from your internal hard drive.  While their difficulty of use is a definite disadvantage, its advantages make it an attractive alternative to server storage for backing up large amounts of data.  External hard drives are priced according to storage capacity, at about £40 for 200 gigabytes to about £150 for 2 terabytes.  Since they typically also have high transfer rates, it is much easier to store large amounts of data on an external hard drive, especially if a high-speed internet connection is not available.  External hard drives can also be encrypted, either partially or completely, and cannot be accessed remotely.  Many are even fireproof, making them the safest place to store essential data.

In the end, the type of storage used depends on the type and amount of data being stored.  For quick, safe, lightweight backup of essential data, memory sticks are the best option.  For a user needing an automatic backup system, a server or cloud storage subscription is the best option.  For the heavy-duty user, with lots of video or high-volume data and a desire to maintain tight, private control over all of the data, an external hard drive provides a secure, protected place to backup essential data.

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