What’s Your Backup Plan?

If you came into work tomorrow and your computer simply wouldn’t boot up, what would you do? Planning ahead for this exact situation is what World Backup Day, March 31, is all about.

It was started as an initiative to raise awareness about the increasing role of data in our lives and the importance of preserving it. World Backup Day encourages people to take the time to create a copy of their important digital information so that no data loss is ever permanent.

Why should I back up my data?

Losing important files is more common than you might think. 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute; 1 in 10 computers will be infected with a virus each month. If you’ve ever lost irreplaceable photos or important documents, you know how devastating it can be.

Maintaining a backup is especially important for businesses handling sensitive client information. More than half of all businesses that suffer a data breach see a decrease in brand reputation, as well as customer loyalty and trust. More than 20% of those same businesses will also lose customers as a result.

No matter how careful you are, there is a constant risk of unforeseen events that can destroy or corrupt your data; computers wear out, your phone could be lost or stolen, a burst pipe could flood your office and destroy the hardware storing your files. There are also digital threats like viruses and targeted cyberattacks such as ransomware, in which a hacker encrypts your data and only returns it for a price.

Having a backup of your data mitigates all these threats. If something happens to your primary set of data, whether that’s a sudden fire or a virus, you have the backup ready and waiting to restore your files and get right back to work.

How should I back up my data?

It’s important to back up your files in more than one way. Ideally, you should back up your files in at least two ways, one physical and one digital, so that no single threat can jeopardize your data.

Physical backups have the advantage of being entirely under your control, inaccessible to outside hackers, and always close to hand. They are however susceptible to the same kinds of things that can destroy your main computer such as physical damage, loss or theft. Some examples of physical backups are USB drives, external hard drives, or a second computer kept strictly for backup purposes.

The most common and convenient digital backup is storing files in the cloud. When data is stored in the cloud, it’s safe from any physical threats that might occur in your office. While it can be targeted by hackers, companies that offer cloud services have very high security and encryption protocols to protect your data. You can also consider automating your backups with an online service. However, as the keepers of clients’ valuable personal information, it’s important to choose your service provider carefully to ensure they provide the necessary privacy and security. Most law societies provide professional guidelines on cloud storage which you should use when choosing a cloud storage service.

How often should I create a backup?

If you haven’t backed up your data recently, you should first start by organizing your files into an easily navigable system. This way you’ll be confident that you’re backing up everything you need, while making it easy to find things later if the worst happens.

While World Backup Day offers a nice annual reminder, you shouldn’t wait for it to come around to back up your data. Ask yourself: How would I feel if tomorrow my computer crashed? For files you’re not adding to regularly like photos or tax returns, you might be okay backing them up monthly. Important business files you’d likely want to back up more frequently. There are many software options that allow you to set backups to run at intervals you choose in advance to help you achieve regular backups.