"Back up your data" is a piece of advice that is often said, and often ignored. It's such a simple task for technicians and can be an affordable service when compared to what could be lost, but humans can be complacent unless faced with adversity. If you've had a recent data loss scare or need a reminder about how to get your started, take a look at a few different redundancy and recovery planning steps.
Individual Hard Drive Backups
The most basic way to have a backup of your data is to make a direct copy. If you haven't bought an external hard drive yet, there are other creative ways of saving a few important files, like attaching files to an email or using a thumb drive. But, getting a hard drive at the same size or larger than your original drive can allow you to copy everything over. For a more sophisticated backup, you'll need some other tools.
Sure, you can simply install the hard drive, then drag and drop your files to the new drive. Your documents, videos, and music will copy over, but what if you want to use your computer? If the original hard drive completely fails, your computer won't simply work because you've copied the operating system over as well.
Disk cloning is the technology behind creating an exact copy of your computer's current state. A snapshot of your computer's current state--called an image--is created and can be applied to future hard drives for recovery. Simply remove the old hard drive and keep the new hard drive as active and--in most scenarios--you'll have a working computer again. There are always chances and mistakes that could lead to failure, but you can test the cloned image before a problem occurs to ensure proper operating.
To The Cloud!
Cloud computing is a nice marketing buzzword, but understand that this is nothing more than storing your information on a network. The "cloud" term comes from an explanation of how networks operate and are connected. There are far too many nodes, connections and destinations (including your individual computers and mobile devices), so the network is instead illustrated as a cloud or series of clouds.
Instead of using a specific hard drive or set location to store your information, you send the files to a web service that stores your information on a robust network. If you haven't already, you may want to check out your email service's cloud, since that's an easy way to not only attach files to emails, but to save them for later use.
There's no denying that clouds are convenient and hide many of the details that may be daunting to basic computer users. But there's a caveat: a cloud can fail as well. Remember that when discussing the cloud, there is no single cloud used for all information. These are all different companies offering their own network storage, and it's possible for those clouds to crash.
If you need help recovering information because of a failed backup or if you haven't created a backup at all, contact a data recovery professional, like we recover data, for deep information inspection and planning for data backups.