Properly back up and store valued data
Over the past number of years, many of our important documents and irreplaceable files have become digital and are stored on the hard drives of our computers. This includes family and vacation photos, financial documents, resumes, contact lists, work documents, to just name a few.
With the value of many of these files, losing them could be devastating, which is why it is important to keep a backup of the data as well as keeping it safe from hackers. There are many ways that you could lose your data – your computer could malfunction, succumb to a virus or it could be stolen. It could also be damaged or destroyed by flooding or a fire within your home.
“If the information you are storing is sensitive or critical, you should consider having multiple copies in different locations and protecting them by enabling passwords or encryption security,” said Zarah Malik, spokesperson for Public Safety Canada. “A popular form of backup is storing data on cloud services, which offer amazing convenience by making backups easily available across many devices. If you use a cloud service, you should become familiar with their service contract and the security services that they use to protect your information. You may also want to consider whether your information will be stored in any foreign countries with different privacy laws than Canada.”
Cloud computing allows people to use any device they wish at any time and still always access everything they need through the Internet. That means you don’t need to store a single thing on your device – folders, files, documents, application programs – everything is easily available by high speed Internet and powerful web browsers.
However, as with any technology, there are a few cloud computing safety risks to be aware of. You should become familiar with your service contract as it relates to cloud computing and online servers. For example, your data could be stored in one or more foreign countries – find out which ones, since your data will then be subject to that country’s or countries’ laws. Since you have personally taken measures to keep your data safe and secure – make sure your cloud service provider is also enabling the strongest and most current security available to protect your data.
Public Safety Canada also has several tips to ensure Canadians are securely backing up their data:
- Organize your files and documents using folders and sub-folders instead of saving your files to random folders or leaving them scattered around your desktop.
- Use external hard drives, USB keys and network drives; data CDs or DVDs which you create using a CD/DVD burner; or online server storage through service and utility providers. Some external drives come pre-installed with auto-backup software that automatically and regularly backs up everything for you. For extra peace of mind, consider backing up on two different storage devices.
- Keep your data back up storage separate from your computer, perhaps even away from home – to minimize the chances of both being stolen or destroyed.
- Back up all the folders, files and documents you want to protect. It’s not necessary to back up application programs, utilities or your OS – for these you would use the original disks to reinstall.
- Protect your data backups by enabling passwords or encryption security.
- Check or restore some of your backed up data once in a while just to make sure that everything works. No matter what else happens, by backing things up you’ll know that all of your data, special photos, personal files and important documents will be intact and easily available.
Another tip to keeping your data and computer safe is keeping tour operating system (OS) up to date. Just like your security software, firewall and browser, it can be a vulnerable weak spot targeted by hackers if it isn’t kept up-to-date.
Here are some tips on how to maximize your OS security updates:
- Try to keep your OS updated with the newest version.
- Your OS has many security features built-in. The OS manufacturer will release regular updates called ‘patches’ or ‘fixes’ to constantly upgrade and improve security.
- Make sure you enable automatic updates on your OS so your device will automatically download and install these fixes as soon as they’re available.
- If your OS asks you to take action or download a fix manually, do it – your OS can’t protect you if you don’t empower it properly.
Updating your OS when you’re prompted is one of the simplest things you can do to protect your computer. After all, it’s easier to allow an update than to have to reinstall your operating system.
This article, written by Edmonton freelance writer Dave S. Clark was originally published by Postmedia Agency.