File Backups

Both university data and your personal information are very valuable and not easy to replace. It is important that data be stored in multiple locations for the scenario where something happens that could cause your data to be lost or compromised, such as:

  • Lost laptop or phone
  • Files are encrypted by malicious software
  • Liquid spilled on a device
  • Accidental deletion
  • Operating system crash (Windows doesn’t start)
  • Device hardware failure

If you are a staff member and have questions about the best practices for backing up university data, please contact your local IT department for help.

For personal data it is important to know what data is critical to you and where it is located on your device. Examples would be:

  • Pictures
  • Text Messages
  • Documents (Legal documents, Schoolwork, Tax documents)

Once you know what data you would like to backup, you can use different options to back it up:

  • Cloud (online) backup services
  • Offline backup using an external hard drive, DVDs or USB flash drive

Cloud/Online Back Up

Online/cloud back up storage services can offer advantages like:

  • Versioning (keeps older versions of files)
  • Backups are stored at a different location
  • Backup process is typically more hands off / automatic

Some disadvantages:

  • There is typically a monthly cost
  • It requires a fast internet connection to send and pull down the data

 Be sure to compare of online backup services to determine which is best for you.

If you choose to back up your data to a Cloud service you will want to protect any data that you backup by encrypting the data first.

Offline Back Up

Offline backups can offer advantages like:

  • Privacy (greater control over who has access to your data)
  • Typically a one-time cost for the external hard drive / flash drive

Some disadvantages:

  • Storage device (external hard drive / flash drive) can fail
  • More manual backup process
  • Difficult to keep at a different location

If you choose to back up your data to an external hard drive you will want to make sure it is in a safe location not near the source of your original files (home computer/laptop). For example if there was a fire at your house and your computer was destroyed you would want to have the external hard drive back up at a different location so you can restore lost data. If you choose this option these are some guides on using the tools built into Windows and macOS to back up your files to an external storage device:

Finally the two keys to successful backup are (1.) getting in the habit of backing up the files regularly and (2.) testing your backup solution to make sure that you can recover the data you need.