Home Computer Backups

Closeup of a backup drive.

Backups, backups, backups.

Recently I’ve spent a fair bit of time talking with our clients about backup solutions for their business. Those conversations keep going through my head, so I guess backups is what you get to hear about today.
I figured I’d make this article about backing up your computer at home, as it looks like that topic applies to most of you subscribed to this newsletter.

First of all, what is the point of having backups? In my limited experience (that has been fraught with a surprising amount of peril in this field) we need to do backups because of these three things:

• Viruses, malware, and all that bad stuff that gets on your computer from China, Russia, and sometimes North Korea.

• Hard drive failure on your computer.

• Changes you make by accident that really mess up your day.

With businesses, virus protection is arguably the biggest reason to do backups, but with home computers it’s not nearly as big a deal. It is a risk to be aware of, but if you at least have virus protection of some kind to keep the basic filth off your computer, that’s pretty much all you need.

Even small businesses can get hit by targeted attacks, often because hackers are trying to go up the chain and get into a bigger company that the smaller business is doing work for. But home computers aren’t worth the effort for most attackers.

I would say drive failure is the main reason I would recommend backups for your home computer. Drive failures are getting to be quite rare because solid state drives are installed in most computers by now. But if your drive does fail and that’s the only place you had your data stored, you could as well kiss it goodbye! Drive recovery is available, but boy it is exPENsive.

Accidental edits can sure mess things up. Let’s say you saved some changes on a file that you didn’t want to. Having a backup of that file to revert to can really save your bacon!

So, what’s the best solution for keeping your data secure? Here are a few options.

Save your files to Google Drive or a similar platform. This is great for important documents that you need to keep around but won’t be editing very often. It keeps them safe from drive failure, but doesn’t help if you made a change and need to revert.

For those of you using QuickBooks and similar applications, back up your company file to a USB stick. It keeps a copy of your data so you aren’t totally reliant on your computer’s drive. And you can revert to the backup if you do accidentally mess things up.
If you eject the USB drive after you run a backup, you can keep your backup secure from viruses that could find their way onto your computer and wreak havoc on every drive attached to it.

We recommend a nifty little service known as Backblaze if you are looking for a way to back up all the files on your computer. This service backs up all your files to the cloud and runs on an automated schedule. It’s a great preventative measure against all three risks listed above.

The question of what the best backup solution is for a home computer is annoyingly hard to answer on a broad basis, because everybody’s situation is truly different. But I hope the options listed above can point you in the right direction and give you something to go off of if you need to set up backups of your own.

-Dylan Penner

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