Safely Back Up Your Files

Are You Keeping Your Digital Data Safe?

Data Backups????? What Are Those?

     Have you ever lost your computer 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.

"I'll do it tomorrow"

     A great majority of us tend to procrastinate this backup process. It is not an issue of "IF my computer hard drive crashes", but "WHEN it crashes". Storage devices wear out or quickly go "bad". They should probably be replaced fairly often, or at least every few years.

  • Could you recover a deleted or corrupted computer file from a backup?
  • Have you developed a backup plan to keep your files backed up automatically?
  • Have you checked to see that the backup service is actually backing up? (the operating system backup services can become dysfunctional at times.)
  • What if your computer and backups are stolen, or destroyed in a fire or flood? All of your files are gone!
  • Do you have an offsite backup? It's important to have all of your files being backed to a site outside of your home in case your computer files and file backups are stolen or destroyed.
  • Do you have a family member that is responsible to be the "backup person" in your family? Does this person have access to computer passwords, backup passwords, and such in case you become deceased.
  • How are you going to make sure that your precious photos and family documents continue to be maintained after you are gone?
It's Not That Complicated

     "Cloud Drives" are basically large server farms that host huge amounts of storage capacity for individuals and corporations to store their files on. Each user can use a completely self-contained encrypted chunk of that storage for their own files. As long as you practice good security standards, your data is safe from outside viewing.

     Most provider companies offer a small desktop app that will sync your local files with their servers. This is very handy as it allows files to be modified let's say on a laptop, and then those changes are automatically synchronized with all of your other connected devices.

     There are many different businesses that will "rent" you space on their servers. Amazon Web Services has the largest server storage sites. Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, Google Drive, and Dropbox are some of the more common ones out there. Most of these services will offer a small amount of "free" storage space. Google is the most "giving" with its 15 gb storage capacity. This may sound like a lot, but actually it's a small amount. I personally have almost 43,000 images of my family over the years or about 300 gb of needed storage space and that doesn't include the family movies, and other documents that I have.

     Cost can run from about $1 per month for about 200 gb, to $120/year for 2 terabytes. Just google "cloud drives", and you will be presented with a variety of different providers for these. It's quite easy to sign up and get started with a provider. Do your research first though to ensure that you are getting a good provider. The ones mentioned above are the most commonly used, but Box, iDrive, and others can also provide you good service.

"Don't Worry, Be Happy!" You're Safe!

     If you leave your house open while you go shopping, you are not practicing good security habits. If you keep a mediocre password on your account, you will have a huge cybersecurity risk of being hacked one day.


     What are those best standards of safety practice? #1) A very strong password and #2) using "two factor authentication". What this means is that upon logging into your cloud drive with your username and your strong password, the system will send you either a text message or email with an additional code that you will have to enter. The code from the email or text is then entered into site textbox requesting this authentication and you are then allowed into the site. Having this extra step of security ensures that YOU are truly the owner of this cloud space.

What Happens If Your Cloud Storage Provider Disappears One Day?

     If for some reason your cloud service disappears one day, you still have your local daily hard drive backups and those files on your computer's hard drive available. Personally, I would stick with a well known cloud service provider like Apple iCloud, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox as they will continue to be around for a very long time.

     One of the most important reasons to do so, is to have your data backed up and stored in an “off-site” location, just in case you have a house fire, flood, hard drive failure, or computer theft. Should one of these things happen to you, you can still easily access all of your files by logging into the server and re-downloading them onto your brand new computer.

     Another big reason to use cloud drives is that you can easily SHARE your files with your family relations by using a simple “link” that you send them in an email. That link contains the information they need to access the files that you are sharing with them. Most of the time, your link is for “view only” permissions, which means that they will not be able to edit, move, or delete your files, but only view them and download them.

USB Type A Flash Drives Pose Security Risks!

Family History Education Website Links

Main Site Page