Oct 10

What happened to all my files???

What would happen if you turned on your computer or your phone or your tablet and nothing happened.  It won’t turn on.  You can’t get to your info.

Over the last several weeks, a couple of people called me and told me that something happened and that they lost a bunch of emails and other important files.  In one case a computer crashed, and in another case they dropped their phone into the water (I won’t tell you what water) and everything they had was gone.

Regardless of whether you’re using a computer, a smartphone or a tablet, you really should have a backup strategy.  You never know when lightning will strike — literally or figuratively — and wipe out your data.

Backups can be done a number of ways.  On your computer, the best way is to back up to one of these…

USB… an external USB drive.  These come in a variety of sizes, at a relatively low cost.  They plug into a USB port on your computer and don’t require a separate power supply — they draw their power from your computer.  If you run a Windows computer, most of the external USB drives come pre-loaded with backup software that allows you to schedule backups.  I typically did a daily backup, but depending on how you use your computer, you might want to do it less frequently.

If you’re using a Mac, there’s a great feature on the Mac called “Time Machine” that automatically backs up your computer at regular intervals.  Just specify the drive to back up to, and turn on Time machine.  If you accidentally delete a file on your Mac, just open up time machine, and typically you’ll find a back up that’s less than 15 minutes old.  Just restore the file you deleted and you’re on your way.

Backing up phones and tablets can happen a couple of ways. You can always back up to your computer, but most folks use “The Cloud” to back up their devices.  The cloud can come in a number of ways.

cloud services

People usually associate the Cloud with iCloud from Apple. But Cloud services are available from a wide variety of sources.  You can get free storage from almost anyone.  The amount of storage that you can get for free will vary by vendor. Once you get past that level, they start to charge you for storage, based on what your needs are.

For example, iCloud (which I’m most familiar with) gives you 5 gigabytes (gb) free.  An additional 10gb costs $20 per year, 20gb costs about $40.  Other vendors, like Dropbox, Box, Microsoft, Amazon and Google all have a variety of plans that should meet the needs of most folks. And as you decide where you want to back your stuff up to, you can find the apps for your phone or pad that can help to automate that backup. And you can always (and should) back up your devices to your computer as well.  Sometimes it’s easier and faster to restore from the computer than it is from the Cloud.

Next, the question becomes what should you back up.  Well, your documents and contacts are probably the first thing that comes to mind.  Most of the email today is IMAP based so that it stays consistent between devices (so if you delete an email on one device, it gets deleted everywhere) so email backups typically happen at the server level.  And when it comes to apps, well, again, the App Store and Google play will let you download any apps that you’ve previously downloaded or purchased, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

On my computers, however, I like to keep a “mirror image” backup.  Everything, including all the assorted system files, that are on my computer are backed up to the USB drive. That makes restoring the computer, should something happen to it, quick and easy and I don’t have to search for software discs that I originally installed my software from.

Regardless of what you’re using, however, having a back up strategy is probably one of the most important things you need to do that you’re probably not doing now.

Thanks for reading and be sure to forward, follow, comment and share it!



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