Keep your memories safe: How to back up your most important files and photos 5



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Hard drives fail. Phones get lost. iPad minis get dropped into toilets by inquisitive 2-year-old grandkids on Christmas day (don’t ask). It’s a sad reality that data can be lost and destroyed, and with it, precious photos, important documents and valuable memories.

Have you ever lost something important because of technological failure? Are there any tips you’d like added to this list?

Sign up for Dropbox

This is one of the most effective ways to keep your data safe, and will work for PCs and Macs alike.

Dropbox is a cloud storage service that can keep your most precious data in various secure locations far away from your computer. It’s free to sign up, and we strongly recommend doing so now.

Once you have installed the Dropbox program, a Dropbox folder will appear on your computer. Anything in this folder will automatically be backed up to the cloud.

Next time you save an important document, make sure it goes somewhere inside your Dropbox folder. Simple as that! The program will handle the rest for you.

If you have multiple computers or devices, this Dropbox folder will synchronise across all machines – add a photo on one computer, and it will soon appear on the other. Even if your computer has a catastrophic meltdown, you can install Dropbox to your next one; it will seamlessly pick up where your broken computer left off.

You can even install a Dropbox app on your phone or tablet and – if you choose – have it automatically save all your photos as you take them. We cannot recommend this enough.

Sign up for iCloud
If you have an iPhone or iPad, chances are your data is already being backed up well. But it’s always worth checking. Go to your device’s settings and scroll down until you see “iCloud”. Follow the instructions from there to ensure your photos, contacts and notes are automatically backed up.

Note that iCloud will only store your most recent 1,000 photos, so if you’re a more avid photographer, it will be worth regularly connecting and saving to your computer (learn how here) – or backing up with Dropbox via the instructions above.

Buy an external hard drive
The old fashioned way isn’t necessarily going to be as consistent or reliable as the more automated processes above, but for added peace of mind, we recommended periodically copying the contents of your computer to another drive – even a simple USB stick can suffice for smaller needs.

While this won’t help you get back up-to-the-minute documents and records, it’s very useful for larger collections – old photos, home movies and personal writings – that you might not necessarily access regularly.

Have you ever lost data important to you? Do you regularly back up your photos and documents? What other tips would you add to this list?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I use the Grandfather method. 50 years ago I learnt to backup all data in full at least once daily. Two copies are made…At the completion of the backup the medium is removed to a secure off site storage and becomes the “Son” version. Yesterday’s becomes the “Father” and yesterday’s Father becomes the “Grandfather”. On the next backup the “Grandfather” is reformatted and becomes the new “Son” and so on.

    I do have a lot of data but, it fits on a USB so that is my “medium” selection. I make three copies, two for offsite storage and one to carry on my person if I’m away on hols.

    I do my backups weekly on average depending on the amount I have saved since the last backup.

    One of the other things I have always done during my PC days is while I’m stopped and thinking about what I’m going to do next is “SAVE’ as I have seen too many cases of folks writing huge docs and doing something to wipe the data and loosing up to 100 pages and have to start again. And if that is coming out of one’s head it will not be the same the second time. Even when I started to use voice activated for large reports twenty-five years ago I would use the save facility during a pause.

    Yes it is a pain to do and yes in my working life I’ve lost data and yes a “restore” was usually straight forward because the backups were there.

    I won’t bore you with stats but, if you saw them you would be horrified.

  2. I use a program called Synctoy and use that to back up regularly to two external drives – one large and another portable to take with me whenever I’m away.

  3. I used to teach IT and always rabbited on to my students about the importance of backing up. Guess what happened when my hard disk crashed? No backup! It was a sound learning experience realising that many important things that existed as 0s and 1s on my hard disk platters were now gone forever.
    What bothers me about products like Dropbox is the security. If you use it for anything really important or confidential, it needs to be encrypted before storage. The program I use is Folder Lock but there are other free programs. Even something like a password protected ZIP file is better than nothing.

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