Maybe the most critical piece of your information security is the backup. Backing up your data can save you in case of computer failure, malware infection, or just a bad user decision. I’ll give you some backup methods that are adequate for most people. However, if you have really critical information, you may need to take additional steps for complete security.

There are a number of ways to go about backing up, but the first step is to decide what you need protect. It’s possible to backup an entire machine, so that absolutely everything can be restored to it’s prior condition. I usually recommend only backing up your personal data, as your operating system and software can usually be downloaded and reinstalled anyway. If you have small amounts of data, you may be able to use cheap or free cloud-based system like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Apple iCloud for your backups. This is a great way to keep your documents available to you wherever you are, as well.

For larger amounts of data, like photo and video collections, you need either a paid online backup, such as Mozy, CrashPlan, or Carbonite, or to backup locally to an external hard drive. The paid backups have a couple advantages. First, they are stored far away from your computer, which can protect you from physical disasters or theft. Second, the setup process is often a bit more intuitive.

Backing up your computer to an external hard drive also has some advantages. These devices are cheap and dependable, and backups are very fast. The software to backup is built into your computer.  For a Mac, use Time Machine. For Windows 10 and 8, use File History. For Windows 7, use Windows Backup. You can set these programs to automatically back up as well, so that you don’t have to remember to do it.

Your work documents on your computer are automatically backed up. If you would like to access them remotely, however, I recommend moving them into your Google Drive, which is also backed up. This is as simple as opening Google Drive in a browser window, and dragging your files into it. As always, please come to me with any questions or for more specific help. And please, please, please back up your files!