There’s a saying in the computer world that states, “Having one backup of your important data is a good start, having two is better, but having three or more is even better.” With high-resolution cameras, music, movies, games and other media, it is easy to rack up a lot of data. But nothing can ruin your day or week faster than a hard drive failure. If you’re lucky, you can fix it with software, but more likely you’ll be unlucky and the data will be unrecoverable. True data recovery is a slow, expensive and oftentimes unsuccessful venture. But hard drives are cheap, especially in comparison, so it’s better to back up your data before, rather than hope you can get it back after.

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What Is a Backup?

A backup in its most simple form is a copy of your data. But it isn’t enough just to copy and paste it somewhere on your original hard drive. Sure, you have multiple copies, but they are still both vulnerable to corruption at the same source. Instead, you need to have that data spread across multiple hard drives to lessen the chances that you’ll lose it.

Internal Hard Drives

Internal hard drives are the multiple drives that are inside your computer. These have the advantage of always being accessible from your desktop. Internal drives are also cheap and come in a variety of sizes of anywhere from one to six terabytes, depending on your needs. The major downside to internal drives is that if something happens to your computer, like a fire, flooding or theft, then that copy of the data will likely be compromised as well.

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External Drives

External drives are like internal drives, but they have a durable housing to allow easy transport between computers. External drives tend to be a bit more expensive for the same capacity due to the need for housing and extra cables, but the price difference is generally fairly small. They can be a little bit slower to transfer data because they generally rely on USB instead of SATA, but this is usually negligible. External drives can also come in rugged housings, allowing them to brush off minor hazards, like small drops, that a regular drive wouldn’t survive. Their disadvantages are similar to if something happens to your computer. Since they usually live by your computer (except when your transporting them), they are also vulnerable to theft, fire and flooding.

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Cloud Storage

The cloud’s biggest advantage is that someone else is always watching your data for you. The cloud works as an external hard drive that you can access from anywhere over the Internet. The advantage of cloud services is that these are companies that are designed to house large amounts of data and they’re good at it. They know how to spread your data across multiple hard drives so there are always several copies, eliminating the chances of data loss. They are also inexpensive especially if you have larger amounts of data. Depending on the company, you can get packages with a few terabytes, which is more than enough for the average user, or unlimited storage for those who really need it.

The only real disadvantage to the cloud is the time needed to get everything uploaded in the first place. This obviously depends on how much data you have and your connection speed, but it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. But after that, the upload times drop considerably because it will only have to send the changes made to your information.

There isn’t a reason not to have a combination of ways to back up your data. Keeping a few hard drives around the house, or better yet, at a friend’s house, to protect against a bad hard drive and additionally keeping a copy in the cloud will ensure that you don’t lose a precious memory or your entire media collection.

~ Hiro