William & Mary

Back Up Regularly To Protect Your Data

External hard drives effectively store copies of your dataBacking up your data onto an external device adds extra security to your files, protects you from accidental loss, and can assist with recovery in the event of a disaster. Backing up your data just means making copies of your files so you can restore  them in case the original data are lost. Files could be corrupted or inadvertently deleted, your computer could be stolen, or your hard drive could fail. 

While the storage space may be large depending on the number of files you want to preserve, there are several mediums for backing up your data:

  • You can use cloud storage devices, such as iCloud or Google Drive, but be sure to first read our tips on cloud storage
  • You can make use of USB flash drives. While smaller in capacity, they are simple to use, inexpensive and easy to transport.
  • DVDs and CDs hold large amounts of data, but the process of copying your data to a physical disk can be time consuming.
  • Finally, you can purchase an external hard drive large enough to store all the data on your computer on a single device. Many of these devices are small enough to not take up too much room on your desk, but they also allow users to schedule regular backups. The additional functionality of an external hard drive does, however, come with a heavier price tag.

Backing up data often is crucial to protect against permanent loss of files. Whenever you’ve generated new files that would be hard to recreate, such as essays, digital media projects, music libraries, scholarly works, or presentations, you should be sure to create backup copies. When backing up sensitive data, consider encrypting the files to add extra security.

Operating systems, software, and programs can all be reinstalled to your computer in the event of a crash, but personal files are usually the most important aspect of your computer. Backing up your data is an easy way to ensure your files are secure.