Should I Use an External Hard Drive for Backup in 2023?
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Table of Contents
- How Does It Work?
- Pros & Cons of External Hard Drive for Backup
By Denise Sullivan
— Last Updated: 2022-07-25T18:47:59+00:00
The only way to ensure no important files get lost is to create a backup of your hard disk; using an external hard drive for backup is one of the best protective measures one can take to secure their data.
Have you ever suffered data loss due to a virus or system failure? If so, you’re not alone. Losing important files is a frustrating experience, to say the least.
Personally, I’ve lost count of the number of times my system had to be reset because an update didn’t install correctly or hardware failed. There was a loss of documents and precious photos. To say that it was annoying is an understatement.
How Does It Work?
To create a backup of your files, simply connect an external hard drive to the computer by plugging it into a USB port. At this point, drag and drop the files you wish to protect or utilize a backup software utility. After the transfer is complete, just disconnect the drive and store it in a safe location.
We recommend that files be backed up daily so that copies are up to date. Using a software program such as CrashPlan or NovaBackup can help you with that, and limit the duplication of information; making the whole process flow smoothly.
Pros & Cons of External Hard Drive for Backup
- No ongoing costs
- Relatively fast
- Large storage space
- It will eventually fail
- Has to be constantly connected
- Can be easily lost
- Generally insecure
Difference Between Storage & Backup
A backup is slightly different than simply using external disk storage. With storage, you are able, and expected, to access and modify data regularly. Users interested in freeing up space on their internal HDDs turn to external disk storage as a solution.
A backup, however, is not usually accessed regularly. Sometimes, depending on the type of program utilized, such as cold storage, files are kept in a read-only state; making it impossible for users to edit them on the backup drive.
The primary purpose of a backup is to provide you with a copy of files in the event of a total system failure, sort of like a library archive. With an external storage drive, you can manually or automatically relocate data to it.
Though backups are performed manually, they’re often left on auto-pilot; with the transfer software running in the background. The advantage of using software to backup data from a PC lies in scheduling; you can tell the software when to backup, down to the hour and minute.
The software takes care of backing up only the files which have experienced recent change, a process called incremental backup. Also, some programs create a boot-able clone of the entire operating system, which speeds up the restoration process in case of a hard disk meltdown.
When using an external hard drive for backup, you typically create incrementally updated copies. Which means, once the initial full backup is complete (and it can take time), only files that have been changed or newly created (since the last run), are going to be saved.
By choosing to do an incremental backup, you save time and can set a schedule to transfer copies when the system is not in use. If you wish to create a backup of every single change made to every file, a continuous backup is possible.
For this, however, you need software that runs in the background constantly and the external drive has to be connected at all times.This can hog system resources making it run slower.
Having files backed is a good plan, it’s also a brilliant idea to have a boot-able clone (YouTube link) of your internal HDD. This particular backup copies all system files and has a boot sector. In the event of a catastrophic system failure, plug this hard drive in and continue working.
You can use this drive to restore all files, including the operating system, to the new hard drive. Additionally, in a pinch, this drive can be used as a working drive until new hardware is installed.
As with regular backups, a boot-able clone is only as good as its most recent creation. If you do not update the external hard drive regularly, files may be missing from recovery. It is important that you run an update at least weekly to ensure all data is retained.
Drive Size Matters
The size of your external hard drive should depend on the type of backup created and how much information needs to be stored. Apparently, if there are several hundred or thousand files scheduled for backup, a relatively large drive is required.
If you’d prefer a boot-able disk, just make sure its size is equivalent or greater than the current one. External hard drives are relatively inexpensive, a 1TB hard drive costs less than $100 and it offers enough space for the average user to store thousands of photos or documents.
For those concerned about fire or flood damage to a drive, there are waterproof and fireproof ones available, these do cost more but are worth the price, especially if you live in a high flood area or any dangerous environment.
While having an external hard drive is a good idea, there are a few downsides. An external drive is still hardware which means one day it will fail or get into a tough accident. In order to access files on the device, it has to be with you at all times.
Additionally, the person responsible for keeping it secure is you, to a tech savvy person this is a straightforward process — for the not so tech savvy, it’s not that easy. Finally, to ensure the device is up-to-date, it has to be plugged into a computer.
That means each time an update is necessary; the drive has to be retrieved and slotted into the USB port (or left attached at all times).
Should an external hard disk drive be used for backup? Absolutely yes, it’s an easy and cost-effective way to save all kinds of data. It offers peace of mind in the event of a system breakdown; ensuring nothing is lost forever. Of course, external hard drives should be used in conjunction with other methods of backup, such as an online backup service.
Make sure you check out our guide on how to backup an external hard drive, too.
Which will help ensure all your files are protected, in the event of a cataclysmic occurrence or external drive corruption. If you have any questions, tips and tricks on how external hard drive for backup can work in a unique situation, please leave a comment below.
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How to Backup Your Computer to an External Hard Drive
If only! This is the two-word refrain of anyone who lost hard drive data without having a solid backup waiting in the wings. Learning how to backup your computer to an external hard drive may not be the most fun way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon, but trust us on this!
You may well be thanking yourself (and us!) later.
Nerds On Call Computer Repair are always here to help you retrieve lost hard drive data, but when it comes to keeping your data safe, the simple fact is that prevention is way better than finding a cure!
So here’s a quick and snappy guide to keeping your data safely backed up on an external hard drive. We’ll start by giving you the pros and cons of opting for an external drive backup. Then we’ll walk you through the five key principles of data backup. Then we’ll give you a step-by-step walkthrough for backing up your data to a Mac or a Windows PC.
Why an External Hard Drive Backup?
So, first up, why might you want to create an external hard drive backup?
The obvious reason is it’s a contingency plan. Hard drives are physical devices, and they can destruct. Keeping a backup on your existing hard drive won’t help you if that hard drive fails!
What about cloud backups. Absolutely. A cloud backup is a good thing to have. However, an external hard drive backup means you’ll be able to restore your computer with or without a functioning Internet connection.
For many, this is a more convenient and secure option.
When Might You Need a Backup?
The first and most obvious reason is in case of hard drive failure. That failure could look like a complete and sudden breakdown of your hard drive, or (more often the case) you may have experienced file corruption owing to a gradually deteriorating drive.
You might also face a situation where software failure damages crucial files. This is less common than it once was, but sometimes software fails catastrophically, damaging files you may have been reading or editing.
Finally, there’s good old-fashioned human error. Accidental file deletion or overwriting happens all the time. While you have a range of options for retrieval here, an external hard drive backup is your best final safety net.
If all else fails you can always grab that crucial archive.
Have a small glitch or issue on your computer or laptop?
Great for: Email issues, problems printing, glitches/bugs, and more!
How to Protect Yourself with a Backup Protocol
OK, so by now hopefully you’re convinced that backups aren’t an optional extra in your computing life! So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how.
Know Your Backup Best Practice
Your first step is to know and understand some basic principles of good backup practice. There are five rules of thumb you should attempt to follow faithfully:
- Have a schedule – It’s boring we know, but backing up is something you should do regularly. Some software will handle a regular backup schedule for you, but just to be sure, add a regular reminder to your calendar to check that you’re backed up. We’d recommend that, at a minimum, you aim for a quarterly full backup schedule.
- Aim for redundancy – External hard drives can fail as well! If your budget will spring for it, don’t just backup to one external drive. Backup your backup. One neat way to do this is to alternate your quarterly backups across two external drives.
- Only backup clean data – Before you perform a backup, it pays to spend a little time cleaning your hard drive of old, duplicate files. Spend a little time on file structure as well. The more organized your folders are before you backup, the easier it’ll be to retrieve specific files or folders.
- Keep your drive safe – Ideally, you’d keep your external drive off-site. At the very least, make sure it’s stored away from your main computer, and somewhere that wouldn’t easily be found in the unfortunate event of theft. Again, it happens! Make like a cub-scout, and be prepared.
- Encrypt where possible – People backup in different ways, and encrypting your backup drive (making it impossible to read or access without a password) isn’t always feasible. However, if you can, encrypt your backup. It takes a little longer but it keeps your data extra safe.
Is your hard drive running slowly?
For Mac Owners
Mac processes are usually pretty simple and streamlined. Unfortunately, this rule doesn’t apply quite so readily to external drive backup. There are a few reasons for this, but the big reason is that Apple wants you to backup your data to iCloud. This isn’t a terrible idea, but you will have to pay for that feature! Once you buy your external drive/s, you face no ongoing expense.
Here are your steps:
- Connect your new drive to your Mac via the USB port.
- Right up at the top right of your screen, you’ll see a little magnifying glass. Click that and type Disk Utility. On the left, you’ll see a directory of connected drives. Be sure to select your new drive, and then select Erase from the top bar of the Disk Utility app.
- Select Mac OS Extended format (Journaled) and then give your Mac the go-ahead to perform the erase. Note that, if you wish, you can encrypt this drive as you format it. We recommend you do this!
- Your new drive will be wiped and formatted to be compatible with Time Machine backups.
- Open up your Apple Menu (the cute little apple at the top left of your screen). Then select System Preferences and hit Time Machine.
- You’ll be asked to select your Time Machine Disk. Select the disk you just formatted. If you ticked the encrypt button during the formatting stage, you’ll be asked to re-enter your password at this point.
At this point, Mac will now manage data backups for you, periodically sending a mirror of your hard drive across to your external drive. Should you ever need to retrieve files (or restore your whole system in case of catastrophic hard drive failure) Time Machine will handle your data retrieval for you.
One thing to note: this is a perfectly fine solution for keeping your data safe, except that you need to keep this drive connected to your machine in order for the dynamic backup process to work.
If you want to keep your data safe from theft, you might want to consider an additional external drive to which you periodically copy your most valuable files. This one you can store separately from your computer, effectively covering all your bases.
For Windows PC Owners
First up, be aware that Windows PC owners also have cloud backup solutions they may like to consider in parallel with an external backup option. Google Drive and SkyDrive are among the most widely used in the Windows PC world, and they’re an acceptable solution if you don’t mind cloud and if you don’t mind a subscription service.
If external hard drives backup is your preferred option, the process is pretty straightforward.
- Connect your external hard drive via your PC’s USB port.
- Open your Control Panel. The easiest way to do this is by going into your system-wide search bar and typing Control Panel. Then, look for System and Security.
- Select Save Backup Copies of Your Files with File History, then select System Image Backup.
- You’ll then be prompted to create a system image.
- Be sure to select your new hard drive from the drop-down box, and then hit Next.
- At this point, your computer will whir into life and backup your whole system. This includes all your system files, your OS settings, and of course, all your media files. Essentially, this backup is a mirror of your whole local hard drive.
- Now, wait! And by wait, we mean that this process could take several hours. While you can continue to use your computer during this process, it’s best not to. For this reason, you might want to time your external backup to take place overnight, or even better, while you’re powering through Season 4 of Better Call Saul.
A Few Minutes Now Could Save You Hours Later!
So now you have the skinny on external file backups. We know it’s not necessarily a fun topic, but keeping your data safe is a vital part of responsible home computing. So, kudos for sticking with us through to the end.
The bottom line is, learning how to backup your computer to an external hard drive is just a smart and prudent thing to do. Sure, it’s not the most fun piece of housekeeping, but setting yourself up now with a simple, easy-to-repeat process, may well save you hours of heartbreak and hassle further down the road.
If you’d like to learn more about how Nerds On Call can set you up with an online backup process, check out this link for Mac users, and this one for Windows PC users. Or, you could just call us on 800-919-6373.
Nerds on Call has partnered with industry leader IDrive to protect your files, photos, and videos: Get 5TB of Cloud Storage for just $8/mo or 50% off your first year!
Get IDrive here – or contact us and one of our Nerds will set up data backup for you.
5 Tips for backing up an external hard drive
When it comes to backing up an external hard drive, the discussion is usually divided into two sections – backing up data stored on an external hard drive and backing up computer data to an external hard drive. What we will mainly talk about in this article is the former, and even so, we provide a solution to help you implement both of them. Now let’s first know the reasons why you should back up data from an external drive.
- Tip 1. Find out Reasons for backing up External Hard Drive
- Tip 2: Choose a different external hard drive for backup
- Tip 3: How to back up an external hard drive in Windows
- Tip 4: Create Multiple Backup Solutions
- Tip 5: How to safely remove an external drive from your computer
If your data has been lost, please refer to this page for solution – How to recover files from external hard drive?
Tip 1. Find out Reasons for backing up an External Hard Drive
Large storage capacity has made an external hard drive an important storage device. External hard drive can help you:
- increase insufficient storage space
- resist internet virus attack and malware infection
- data protection in case of computer system failure
- access to the data you want anytime, anywhere
Since it can bring you so many benefits, why not choose an external hard drive for backup or data storage.
Tip 2: Choose a different external hard drive for backup
When backing up external hard drives, it’s best to use another external drive as the backup device. External hard drive backup devices are currently becoming very popular due to their easy setup and low market value. External drives offer the possibility of easily portable storage for all documents, photos, movies, music and user data. What’s more, they provide a “greater” destination for the user to back up their valuable files during a crash and loss of internal storage. Indeed, building a backup external hard drive is a smart move for those who need increased capacity at declining prices to store and download more files that regular internal storage often lacks.
Data is the most important aspect of a personal computer. Any applications and operating systems can be reinstalled whenever technical failures occur, but it can be difficult, worse, impossible to recreate your original data. Huge business firms understand the importance of backing up their data to external hard drives and are creating a data recovery plan after system failures. Therefore, they have created a team of experts to perform tasks related to performance, recovery strategy, and even further backup of an external hard drive on a schedule.
Today, you can see the best external backup hard drive of various prices and brands, which will provide much-needed extra storage space for users. It plays a very important role in both personal and small business needs by replacing your computer’s saturated internal memory while boosting its performance. External hard drives are a handy must-have extra storage you need to keep extra copies of all your important files.
Tip 3. How to back up an external hard drive in Windows
How to back up to an external drive?
We know for sure that, like any other technological invention, the computer and its components will eventually fail. When this happens, the biggest threat any person can face is damage or loss of their important data or files. Because data is the brain and heart of any business. You must protect it from database corruption, natural disasters, accidental loss of user data, and hardware failures. The good news is that there are several ways to back up an external hard drive, among which we recommend using data backup software.
1. Selected Professional Data Backup Software
Data backup can be done manually by dragging and dropping data files. However, if you want to make sure everything is stored in the right place without taking that much time, you’ll probably want to use an app. AOMEI Backupper is a very popular open source application that will “sync” your contents from an external hard drive to another hard drive or the cloud. This application is reliable and provides the best user experience for backing up external hard drives.
AOMEI Backupper is the best data backup software for Windows
- Create full, incremental and differential backups of your computer system, hard drive and files.
- Automate the backup and synchronization of your computer content based on your configurations.
- Clone a hard drive, partition, volume, command prompt, and computer system.
- Windows OS support: Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP (all editions, 32/64 bit).
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2. How to Backup an External Hard Drive to Another External Hard Drive
be discovered. Then download and install AOMEI Backupper Professional and follow these simple steps to back up your external hard drive.
Step 1 Select Disk Backup
To back up an external hard drive on a computer, you need to run AOMEI Backupper Professional and select “Disk Backup” in the “Backup” tab.
Step 2 Select the hard drives
Then you have to click the “Step 1” button and then click the “Add” button in the pop-up window to select the external drive you need to back up. Then go to “Step 2” to select another hard drive as the destination path, which can be a computer hard drive, another external hard drive, cloud storage, or a NAS drive.
Step 3 Configure task
In addition, you can also make some settings for this external hard disk backup task, edit the task name for better identification, add more disks for backup, delete the selected external disk, and schedule an automatic backup. copying an external hard drive. Also, click the “Backup Options” button and you can configure VSS settings. VSS methods allow you to back up external hard drives without interrupting ongoing operations.
Step 4 Start backing up your external hard drive
Finally, click the “Start Backup” button to start the external hard drive backup process. You just need to wait for a while and then you can finish backing up the data present on your external hard drive.
3. How to back up files to an external hard drive
You can follow the same steps to back up data from your computer to an external hard drive.
- Connect an external drive and run the data backup software
- Select Backup > File Backup.
- Add files and folders by clicking the Add File or Add Folder button.
- Select an external hard drive as the backup destination.
- Calculate the backup frequency and click the “Start Backup” button.
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Tip 4: Create Multiple Backup Solutions
Never assume that your data on an external hard drive is completely protected. To properly protect your files, you may need to create an external backup location and multiple copies of the files you want to protect. According to the old information technology rule, when backing up, create two different formats and at least three copies of the data you need and store it in two different places, specifically another external hard drive and cloud storage.
1. Something About Cloud Backup
Cloud sync is one of the various approaches to creating a drive or folder on the Internet. There are several data backup solutions you can choose from, but most of these promising solutions can cost you dearly. If you’re willing to spend some of your extra money, you can secure your data and build your drive through Carbonite and MozyHome. While there are some up-and-coming cloud services like DropBox that offer 2GB free online storage, 5GB SugarSync and 7GB SkyDrive. These cloud storage services will only require you to create an account using a valid email address to verify and log in.
Once an account and verification is done, users can access their free storage and start uploading their important data and files to the cloud. From there, you can start accessing your data wherever you are.
By the way, this backup strategy could be taken into account. Take advantage of AOMEI Backupper Professional to backup and sync files on your external hard drive to multiple storage locations based on day, week and month. This can greatly reduce your burden on cumbersome manual backup jobs. Regarding backing up your external hard drive to the cloud, please refer to the above steps and choose Cloud as the destination.
2. Additional approaches to backup data on an external drive
In addition to preparing a copy of an external hard drive and cloud backup, you can also take the following steps to fully protect your important data.
- USB stick
A USB stick is also called a stick or thumb stick. Like an external hard drive, this is a portable device for writing and reading data. But its storage capacity seems to be smaller compared to a hard drive.
- NAS drive
NAS, short for Network Attached Storage, is an external device that can be connected to a network and shared with a group of people. It does not require an internet connection and thus keeps the saved data safe. Of course, for me personally, it will cost much more. For more information about NAS storage and backing up NAS files, please see this page: How to back up files to NAS.
Tip 5: How to safely remove an external drive from your computer
There is one important thing to keep in mind when backing up external hard drives. That is, to use it correctly and safely, it is especially safe to remove it from a computer. The Windows Safely Remove program is responsible for “safely removing” your external drive from your computer. Here are the steps on how you can safely remove an external drive from a Windows computer. Please note that failure to follow this procedure may result in loss of data in external storage.
- On a Windows system, locate and double-click the Safely Remove icon. This process will launch the secure removal program. When this icon is hidden, you can simply click on the up arrow to continue.
- The Safely Remove window will show any or all detected FireWire/USB devices connected to your computer. Optionally, select or click the checkbox labeled Display Device Components to expand the view.
- Click on the specific device you want to delete (external drive) and click the Stop button on the screen.
- A confirmation window will appear. Select the device you want to delete and just click OK.
- You will be notified that your device is now safe to remove. You can click the button (X) in the upper right corner of the window or it will close itself. You can then unplug or turn off the external drive from your personal computer.
For those who own Mac OS, the external drive is displayed as an icon on the desktop. This will require the user to dismount the device by dragging the drive to the trash can. You need to wait a few seconds, once it goes into the trash can, when the activity light turns off, the external hard drive can be safely removed. Once it is turned off, you can unplug its interface cable.
Now the article comes to an end. Backup is the best precaution against data loss. Run an external hard drive backup and protect your important data right away.
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how to save and not restore later – Seagate Russia on vc.
Seagate backup guide
In 2021, people around the world took 1.43 trillion photos using mobile phones and professional cameras. Although many of these pictures were deleted after a couple of weeks, no one would want to completely lose their photo story. And then there are important documents, project folders, video sources, favorite music selections and many other files that need to be saved.
Despite the fact that the probability of accidentally dropping a laptop, spilling coffee on it, deleting a folder or losing a mobile phone somewhere is very high – 65.1% of survey participants and their families lost data for one reason or another – some do not think about the importance of backup. But after reading the article, this definitely cannot be said about you.
An ideal and easy-to-implement backup scenario: follow the 3-2-1 rule, that is, create three copies of data, on two types of media, and keep one of them separate from the other two. For example, use a combination of a reliable built-in hard drive, an external hard drive, and cloud storage:
Cloud Copy protects your data in the event of a fire, flood, theft, or any other situation where physical media fails and can be lost.
- A copy on an external hard drive that is not permanently connected to the computer and is stored offline will allow data to be preserved if the PC is infected with ransomware malware.
If making three copies is long and tedious, or you realize that self-discipline is not enough for this, then you can stop at at least two: on an external hard drive and “in the cloud” or on two hard drives stored in different places. Then, if data is lost, they can be restored from one preserved source.
This is not a privilege, but a necessity: any physical media fails. As a rule, the shelf life of unburnt CDs and DVDs is five to ten years, but it is much more common to find CDs/DVDs that are scratched and unreadable after 2-4 years. Hard drives fail within a few months to ten years. But the probability of a simultaneous breakdown or loss of two drives that are not connected to each other in any way is still not very high. So we just minimize the risks.
HDD or SSD: what to choose?
Short answer: to store data without frequent access to it, it is better to choose a hard drive, to record information that will be constantly in use – a solid state drive. Since our goal is exactly backup, we select the HDD.
Now more. External hard drives are usually more economical for long-term data storage than SSDs: each GB of space on an HDD costs less than on an SSD. Hard drives are more durable, less susceptible to external influences, and can go longer without being connected to a power source (more on that in the next section).
Seagate has a dedicated line of Backup Plus drives for backup: these are the portable Backup Plus Slim and Backup Plus Portable drives up to 5 TB in size, which do not take up much space and are light enough for mobile movement, as well as the premium Backup Plus Hub solution with a capacity of up to 14 Tb. With two built-in USB ports on the front, you can connect it to multiple devices at once, back up your files, photos and videos at the same time, and charge your tablet, smartphone or camera, even when the system is off or in standby mode.
Seagate Backup Plus Hub allows you to simultaneously copy information from your PC and gadgets, as well as charge the latter offline, even when your computer is turned off
A standout feature of the Backup Plus line is Seagate’s dedicated software that lets you set up automatic backups on a schedule (hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly) or run them with one click. Backup Plus drives can be used with Mac OS and Windows computers in turn, without reformatting, thanks to built-in drivers from Paragon.
If you plan to alternate between using a non-Seagate hard drive in both Mac OS and Windows environments, start by formatting the drives to exFAT. You will lose a little in read and write performance, but the format works universally.
These solutions are suitable for users with everyday needs. Photographers, videographers, researchers with terabytes of data use LaCie Big series multi-drive desktop systems with RAID (we talked about them here) or Synology NAS (read about them here) in various RAID configurations to increase storage capacity, copy speed and protection. In such systems, special enterprise-class Exos hard drives for servers or IronWolf for NAS are used, designed for heavy loads. They are checked for errors and physical problems using the S.M.A.R.T approach – there are built-in utilities for this.
The idea of putting old photos or videos from a wedding on a drive, putting it in a safe, dry place, and forgetting about it for many, many years seems to be the right one. Exactly until the moment you find out that you can’t do this with hard drives or solid state drives.
Simply downloading photos and videos from your honeymoon to your hard drive and forgetting about them for a few years is not the best idea for saving files
- Hard drives need to be connected to the computer every six months for 15-30 minutes and perform the usual operations: open files, copy or move something. Do not forget that this is a magnetic storage medium, so food is useful to it. Connect SSD every 3 months. This will prevent data degradation.
- In our experience, the maximum time that a hard drive can go without power without a high probability of information loss is 1-2 years. For SSD, this period is even less – 6 months.
- We recommend upgrading your machine every 3-5 years as drives continue to get cheaper and capacity increases to keep you safe.
Even if your hard drive, which was the only place to store information, is out of order, do not sprinkle ashes on your head. In most cases, the data can be returned. For example, with the help of the free program Victoria HDD/SSD: it diagnoses the drive for bad sections and errors, eliminates them, and with small defects helps to restore almost everything.
If you don’t want to self-medicate, and reliability is a priority, with Seagate drives, you can contact Rescue Data Recovery Services and subscribe. Seagate HDDs and SSDs have a 95% recovery rate, which is the best in the industry.
Subscribing to Rescue Data Recovery Services will protect your files from unexpected data loss due to mechanical damage, accident or natural disaster.
Whatever the ideal system in terms of “hardware” is built in your home, nothing will work without adequate software tuning. Above, we said that the Seagate Backup Plus line has developed its own software for these purposes. Similar tools are available from other manufacturers, including cloud services. Here’s what you can do from the user’s point of view so that you don’t regret losing data later:
- Set up periodic backups using special software – once a day, a week or a month – you will most likely forget to do this regularly yourself.
- For mobile devices, consider using a cloud provider as the primary one to which you can upload files when Wi-Fi is available.