‘There’s no one-size-fits-all back-up solution and you might need to test a few to see which works best.’FROM fires and floods to a simple hard-drive failure, there’s no shortage of disasters waiting to claim your family photos and other precious data. An insurance policy might cover your home and contents, but irreplaceable family photographs are perhaps our most precious possessions. These days your photo library is probably spread across computers and other gadgets scattered throughout the house. All those artefacts could be lost forever, and it happens to people every day.
Also spare a thought for important documents such as school assignments, business reports and tax records you can’t afford to lose.
Even if fire and flood aren’t lapping at your door, there are plenty of more mundane threats to your precious data. Burglars are quick to reach for notebooks, smartphones, tablets and digital cameras. Power spikes and hard-drive failures can wipe your digital life in a flash, as can a nasty virus. Even something as simple as a leaking roof or burst water pipe can wash away your digital memories forever.
The best way to insure yourself against a digital disaster is to make back-ups of your precious files for safe-keeping. That doesn’t mean keeping them in the desk drawer, where they’re also likely to fall victim to the disaster that claims the computer on the desk. It’s vital to safely store ”off-site” back-ups.
The easiest way to do this is to burn files to disc or copy them to a USB drive and leave them at a friend’s house, or maybe in your desk drawer at work. But it’s easy to become lax with your back-up habits. For an extra level of off-site protection, also consider making automatic back-ups to a cloud storage service. Choices include Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Mozy, Carbonite and Jungle Disk. Cloud back-up software runs in the background on your computer, automatically uploading new and changed files.
The initial back-up might take a long time, and you’ll need to keep an eye on your monthly data limit if your internet service provider counts uploads towards your monthly allowance. After the hefty initial back-up, regular incremental back-ups should run quickly. Some software lets you create flexible schedules, perhaps backing up school assignments once an hour but your photo library once a day or week.
Get into the habit of regularly copying the photos from your digital camera to your computer, rather than leaving months’ worth of photos sitting on the memory card. If your smartphone tends to be your camera too, your photos are even more at risk of being lost or stolen. One simple back-up strategy is to email the best photos to yourself. You should regularly back up your mobile devices to your computer so the files will be copied to the cloud.
The iGadgets option needs Apple’s iTunes software to back up to a computer, but the back-ups are locked away in hidden files. Use the camera import settings in Windows, or Image Capture on a Mac, to copy the photos on your iPhone or iPad to a folder on your computer. Or use photo management software such as iPhoto or Photoshop Elements to import them into your photo library.
The same techniques should work with most Android devices, which let you see your photos as if the gadget were a USB stick. Windows Phone owners should use the Windows Phone desktop app.
Many smartphones and tablets can automatically upload your photos to the cloud wirelessly, but it’s important to keep an eye on your mobile broadband usage. On an iPhone or iPad, you can automatically back up the camera roll to Apple’s iCloud. Photo Stream copies photos from an iGadget to your computer and other iGadgets. Dropbox and Google+ can do a similar job on Apple or Android gadgets, as can SkyDrive on Windows Phone devices. Or you might manually upload photos to these or other cloud services. Apple’s iCloud and Photo Stream back-ups run only over wi-fi but the others can also use 3G/4G, so watch your mobile broadband allowance. There’s no one-size-fits-all back-up solution and you might need to test a few to see which works best. If you can’t afford to lose everything, you can afford to spend the time protecting your precious files.Back up versus sync
NOT all storage services are created equal, and it’s important to understand how they work.
Back-up services such as Carbonite, Mozy and Jungle Disk lurk in the background on your computer. You tell them which folders to watch and how often to check, and they automatically upload new or changed files to the cloud. Some back-up services will protect several computers using one account, but others require separate accounts for each computer. Should disaster strike, you can download the files again or perhaps access them through your browser.
Google Drive, SkyDrive and Dropbox can also lurk on your computer, but they’re designed mainly to synchronise files and folders between devices. Copy a file into your computer’s Dropbox folder, or edit an existing file, and it’s copied to the Dropbox folder on your other computers. A copy is also kept in the cloud, which is a handy back-up.
Unlike back-up services, sync services tend to lack advanced features such as throttling upload speeds, restricting back-ups to specific file types and keeping old versions of documents. Even so, the pressure from sync services has forced back-up services such as Mozy and Jungle Disk to add sync features, along with competitors such as SugarSync and CrashPlan.
Apple’s iCloud is another contender, but it lacks the flexibility of other services; it syncs Apple’s iWork files between iGadgets and the desktop iWork applications on a Mac. Some third-party desktop applications also tap into iCloud. You can use iCloud to sync your calendar, contacts, email and photos, but it’s not a general storage service and you can’t use it to back up a desktop folder full of photos and non-Apple Office files.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.