Friday, August 17, 2007

Security Tip: Backups

Security concepts in general are grossly overlooked by the majority of the population, but I would say one of the most common grievances are caused by infrequent or no backup of digital data.

We all have important documents we don't want to lose (whether in hard copy or digital format). It would probably be advisable to have all hard copy documents (i.e., Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses, credit cards, etc.) in a digital format saved in a secured, encrypted format. Other items you may want to have a backup copy of are:
  • Music (CDs)
  • Movies (DVDs)
  • Pictures
  • Journals (I keep my journal online so that I can make backups of it)
The next question is to determine how and where you are going to back up your data. It is highly advisable that you store your digital data somewhere else (physically) in addition to your personal computer. If it's stored on an external hard drive in your house with another copy on your family computer and your house burns down, you're out of luck. Some places charge a reasonable price to securely store any data you want (particulary web hosting companies if you have your own website). The next best thing would be to set up a file server somewhere where members of your family can upload their important documents, or you could put those docs on a reliable medium and ask family member's to store it for you.

Once you've established how and what you will be backing up, you need to set up a schedule and STICK WITH IT. Full backups of a computer can take a long time, so you may only want to do those every once in a while, and inbetween do only incremental backups (maybe only back up your My Documents folder).

Currently this is what I have backed up:
  • Music: I condensed all of my music into mp3's so that I could have a more portable version of all my music; it's also all on an mp3 player and on an external hard drive...this maybe overkill, but I have a lot of music, and redundancy is the only protection, especially since it's all stored in one location (I'm working on a solution for that).

  • Movies: this is trickier, as movies take up tons of space, I can only think of making one-to-one DVD backups (and this can only be done on those that aren't protected)

  • Pictures and important docs: stored on an external hard drive,on a file server in a remote location, and on one of Google's servers (Picasaweb).

  • Journal is also on my computer, and a google doc so I can access it anywhere I go.
I try to have a regular full backup at least once a month, but I don't usually do that much to my computer, and the most important things I have are in a single folder, so I might as well just make sure I constantly copy that folder to a secure location.

Redundancy is also a security risk, make sure you have sensitive data encrypted or protected in some way.

Questions to comment on:
  1. What other things would you suggest making backups of?

  2. What suggestions do you have for backing up DVDs (assuming that it is legal)?

  3. Any methods of backing up data that have worked best for you?

1 comment:

sherrie bebe said...

Sorry. I can't help much here. You're my husband and anything I already know is because you know it! Boy am I lucky to have you around! Love ya!