• Are You Keeping Your Digital Data Safe?

    Data Backups????? What Are Those?

    Have you ever lost your files? I can tell you from experience that it is a gut sickening experience. All it takes is a sudden hard drive failure to lose everything, even with a new computer. I had a top of the line HP business desktop that suffered a hard drive failure only 1 month after purchase. Luckily I had already learned to create backups.

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    It's Not That Complicated

    "I'll do it tomorrow"

    A great majority of us tend to procrastinate the backup process. It is not an issue of "IF my computer hard drive crashes", but "WHEN it crashes". I had a new hard drive crash within the first month of use. Storage devices wear out and have to be replaced often.

    • Have you developed a plan to keep your files always backed up?
    • Is it an automatic backup?
    • Have you checked to see that the backup service is actually backing up? (the operating system backup services can just shut off)
    • What if your computer and backups are stolen, or destroyed in a fire or flood?
    • Do you have an offsite backup?
    • Do you have a family member that is responsible to be the "backup person" in your family?
    • How are you going to make sure that your precious photos and family documents continue to be maintained after you are gone?

  • Learn to Utilize the "3-2-1" Backup Strategy


    3 Locations - computer, cloud drive, and backup service

    • Computer: KEEP YOUR FILES ORGANIZED so that you can easily find them to back them up.
    • Backup Drives: Both Mac (using “time machine”) and Windows (using “file history”) operating systems have features to automatically backup your files to an EXTERNAL USB hard drive. These backups can be setup to be automatic so that you never really see the backups happening. Of course, you’ll want to check weekly just to make sure that the backups ARE happening. USB hard drives can also go bad at inopportune times, so be aware of that. They do NOT last forever.
    • Cloud Drives: "OFF-SITE"!!! Examples of these include Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, GoogleDrive, Box, and others, each offering you varying amounts of free storage. Carbonite, iDrive, BackBlaze, etc are offline backup services that can also be used.

    These "clouds" are basically large "server farms" where data can be securely held and kept safely backed up.

    There are many “Clouds” to choose from with probably the most common being Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Apple iCloud Drive, however there are many others as well.

    Having your files stored in a "Cloud" offers you a way to keep all your files synchronized across multiple devices (iPads or tablets, Laptops, Desktops, etc). When a file is uploaded or changed on one device, all the devices connected to your "cloud account" will then be updated to reflect the current file changes.

    Most of the major "Cloud Drives" offer a desktop app that will install and integrate into your desktop browser (File Explorer in Windows or Finder on Macs). This allows you to organize or move files, or create folders just as you would do with any of your files on your hard drive.

    A file in the "cloud" is available anywhere you may be, such as at the Family History Library, "on the road traveling", etc, as long as you have internet of course.

    What if your computer hard drive suddenly dies? Don't worry, your files are still stored on your cloud drive. Replace your hard drive, reinstall your "cloud's" desktop app, and the files will download back to your desktop. This should NOT be your only backup strategy though!!

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    2 File Formats - You are using a Word Processor document, like Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or Apple Pages to save your documents. Each will save with a certain file format type. What happens one day when WordPerfect is not longer supported and you can no longer open your document files? (WordStar is a good example! Once one of the premier word processing applications, you can no longer even get an old copy to run to open your files.) Applications that are available and being used TODAY, may NOT be around TOMORROW!!

    How do I save files in two formats?

    1. First, save your file in the standard application format (normal procedure).
    2. Second, do a "Files Save As…" and choose a a different format such as in a PDF or RTF (rich text format).
    3. Files can become corrupted over time and therefore unable to be opened. Having two file formats will help prevent future problems in accessing your files.


    1 Off Site If you are using the “cloud drives” then those file are kept off site. There are additional ways to store things off site in a backed up state. Carbonite, BackBlaze, iDrive, and many others also can install a small app that will backup your changes to an off site location. Typically the cost is $~60/year. This type of backup differs from a cloud drive in that the files are not as easily accessible to use on a daily basis like the cloud drive. You have the choice to “backup” and “restore” your files. This adds an additional layer of security for your files.

  • Storage Devices


    DVDs were once thought to be a great archival media for saving files. However, they can deteriorate quickly and become unusable at some time, even after the first year.

    At this point, it is not a good idea to use DVDs as a backup storage media.

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    USB Flash Drives
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    Hopefully you are not storing your backups on USB Flash Drives. They were never meant to be used for storage of file backups.

    Use them to transport your information from one place to another, but get them transferred to a hard drive that is being backed up as soon as you can. One little electrostatic discharge can wipe the USB data quickly.

    USB Hard Drives — Still Best Solution

    Hard drives of 500 gb size are now considered small in size. 1-2 terabyte drives can often be found for around $60-$70. They can store a lot of information. How are you going to store all of your files? Are you prepared for a hard drive crash?

    This storage media is still the best to use at this point, however, make sure that you also have your data saved to the cloud, and even another backup USB hard drive.

    Using external hard drives plus a "cloud drive" makes for a good backup combination.

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