Many take the data on their computers for granted and have a carefree attitude toward their files. However, this should not be the case.
Whether you are a student, office worker, or businessman, the files on your computer are valuable data. And if you lose them, it could cost you hours and even money to rebuild or recover them.
So what is your best option if you want to store and back up your files?
Common backup and storage options
Most people just store files where they saved them on their computer. After finishing a project, they leave the files on your PC and forget about it. And if they need it in the future, they simply search for it using Windows File Explorer or some of the best Windows search alternatives.
But if you care about your digital life, backing up your files is a must. So these are your most common options if you want to protect your files.
External drive: its reliability and its options
Connecting an external drive to your computer and copying your files over is the easiest way to start backing up and storing files. However, it’s not the best for consistent backups, and you also risk losing or damaging the drive, especially if you carry it with you frequently.
However, it’s a good way to get started with backups, since you don’t have to pay a subscription to get them. If you need to back up files between your home and work PCs, consider getting a durable portable hard drive, or SSD.
Another option is to get an external desktop drive to back up your PC, especially if you want to protect the contents of your laptop. But if you’re on a tight budget, you can buy an enclosure to turn your unused hard drives or SSDs into an external drive.
Cloud storage: is it secure and big enough for your needs?
Another backup option that has recently gained attention is cloud storage. Various cloud storage providers give you free storage space between 2 GB (Dropbox) and 15 GB (Google Drive). However, you will need to pay for a subscription if you need more storage.
Some providers, like Microsoft, bundle their cloud storage services with their other subscription services, making them more convenient. Plus, cloud storage services like OneDrive and iCloud+ integrate seamlessly with Windows and Mac, respectively, making it easy to set up and maintain file backups on your computer.
However, these services have three main disadvantages. First of all, you have to pay a monthly or yearly subscription to use their services. While it may initially seem affordable, it will surely be more expensive than buying an external drive outright.
Second, you’re limited by the storage options they offer. For example, Dropbox limits you to 5TB before you need to purchase a custom plan, and you can only get a maximum of 1TB per user for OneDrive.
And last, but certainly one of the most important concerns, is online security. Since cloud storage is easily accessible online, you are more vulnerable to cyber attacks, even through no fault of your own.
Network Attached Storage: The Most Complicated (But Best) Option
A network attached storage (NAS) is undoubtedly one of the most complicated backup systems to set up. It’s like setting up your personal file server at home, so you need a dedicated computer to connect your storage to the Internet.
However, despite the additional configuration, you will find this to be the most flexible option. This is because you are free to choose storage capacities, brand of drives, and even RAID configuration for redundancy.
The only drawback to this setup is that it is located in one place. Therefore, if an accident occurs that damages the real NAS, you risk losing your data.
What data needs storage?
Some will argue that a NAS is the best way to back up your files; is not necessarily true all the time. This is because the best backup and storage solution will always depend on your budget and purpose.
So these are the things to consider when choosing a backup system.
archive your life
If your current computer is full of old files and you’re simply looking to offload them to another storage device for archiving and more space, you should consider getting an external drive. This is probably the cheapest and easiest option for simple storage.
However, when you do this, you lose a copy of the file on your computer. So, if you want to open a file archived in this matter, be sure to label the drive so you can see its contents before connecting it to your PC. This is crucial, especially if you have multiple backup drives.
You should also occasionally check the health of your drives. This is because while SSDs and HDDs have a long lifespan, they don’t last forever. This is why you should check how long your storage media will last before committing to any type of external drive file.
Backup current files
But if you want to have a backup of your frequently used files, it is better to use a cloud storage service. Most cloud storage deals range from 5GB free to 2TB, which should be more than enough to accommodate most of your common files. It should also be enough to fit raw files for most short videos, even if you’re shooting in 4K.
And since cloud services often back up your files as you make changes to them, especially if you’re online, you’ll always have the latest version available. So even if you lose your computer or backup drives, you’ll have an up-to-date copy stored on your provider’s servers.
Do you have a massive database?
While 2TB is probably plenty for most people, you’ll want a NAS if you’re working with a lot of large files. This is mainly suitable for professional photographers, videographers and video editors, video game collectors, data scientists, indie game developers, and more.
Setting up a NAS may cost a bit more in terms of hardware, and you may have to figure out a few things yourself at first, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re in full control of your data.
Also, you can easily scale your NAS in terms of storage and users; you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for every terabyte and user access you need. And if you’re concerned about the physical security of your NAS drive, you can install multiple NAS devices in multiple locations, allowing you to have redundant security.
Our list of the best NAS is a good place to start.
Protect your digital life: back up your files
Today, you need to protect your files. While you may think that setting up a backup is unimportant and a big hassle, you’ll think otherwise when you lose most, if not all, of your files.
But if you have your data backed up, you won’t feel as penalized if you lose your computer or your drive fails. All you need is to connect to your device or backup service and copy or download the files you need to your PC.
And if you’re working on crucial files, especially when your profession depends on them, you should implement the 3-2-1 backup strategy for near-perfect data protection.