Your computer contains many different kinds of information, and a truly complete data protection plan should take this into account. Below, I’ve included some of the most common files that a home or small business user might need to back up, and some suggestions about how this can be done effectively using cloud storage.
Flat Files and Documents – Yes
What I’m talking about here are everyday business files: Word, PowerPoint, Photoshop, Spreadsheets, etc…
These are the most common files that you would be backing up using an online backup service. Since these files will be changing regularly, you’ll want to pick an online backup solution that tracks historical versions of your data.
Most of the time, these files will be located – almost exclusively – in the “My Documents” folder or the “Desktop”. This is why most online backup services have these folders set as default.
However – if you save your working files to another folder – you’ll want to make sure to indicate these in the settings of your online backup application.
These files should also be set to back up “continuously”. In other words, the backups should be uploaded each time a document is saved.
Program Files – No
Since backups are usually meant for critical or irreplaceable files, you would not want to back up your program files using an online backup service. (Since you can always buy new copies from the store, they aren’t considered “critical”)
Also, backing up a program is pointless since it won’t allow you to actually recover the application. Unlike other documents, programs need to be installed on your machine in order to work.
Simply copying the executables won’t work.
A better solution would be to make an “image” of your system and save it to a DVD or other storage device. A system image is like a snapshot of what your computer looks like today. If your hard drive ever crashes, you can simply reload the snapshot and recover everything – including the operating system, settings and applications.
When creating a system image, it’s recommended that you save 2 copies. One at home and a second copy at another location… just in case.
The problem with this approach is that your system image will only be as current as your last snapshot. If you created this snapshot 6 months ago, you will still need to download all of your work for the last 6 months from your online backup service.
Email – Yes
When backing up, everyone seems to keep forgetting the PST files generated by MS Outlook.
Sure, your work documents might be protected, but losing 6 months of historical business interactions can be incredibly frustrating.
If your online backup service protects your data continuously, this might cause problems with your Outlook’s PST files since they change every few minutes. In order to avoid frequent unnecessary updates that might slow down your machine, you’ll want to ensure that your online backup provider allows you to isolate certain types of files (such as Outlook) for daily backups… while still backing up the others continuously.
Most online backup providers already offer this capability, but it’s still good to double-check.
Photos and Video – It depends
There is a lot of debate around this one. But here’s my take on it.
Since most pictures and videos will never change over time, they only need a single historical backup version. Files of this type are called “archival” documents, and are usually better suited for other types of storage.
In order to save money and (more importantly) ensure faster emergency recovery, you want to make sure that your online backups are kept as small as possible.
For only a few photos and videos, online backup is fine. But if you want to protect large amounts of these files online, I’d suggest getting an additional “online storage” or “online archiving” solution to complement your online backup service.
For larger businesses looking to back up their data online, there are many other factors that must be taken into account. But for home users and small business users, the tips listed above should be enough to cover most of the files you’re likely to come across.
About The Author: Storagepipe offers a comprehensive suite of online backup and data protection services for just about any type of system setup.