Technical Observations – Interlude

I am going to digress from our series on browsers and get into something a little more practical. As AU students, we probably rely on technology more than other university students. So it becomes crucial that our school files are properly backed up and ready in an instant if the need arises. I have heard far too many stories of school work lost, data corrupted, and arduous work gone in a millisecond because of some unforeseen issue suddenly erasing school files. I have experienced this myself and am sure many of you have too (and for those who have not, I hope you never will!)

You need a way to keep your data safe from harm and easily accessible. A backup plan, if you will. To create this backup plan, you’ll need a storage device and a way to easily back up your files. Here are some ideas for both:

First, our storage device. With the many different storage options on the market, it can be confusing to sift through them all. So what should you look for? First, find out how much space the device you use has. Try to purchase an external storage device that has at least the same amount of space, preferably double, than the computer You’re using. So if your laptop has a 1 TB (TB means terabyte, which means 1000 GB (gigabyte)) drive, aim for a 1 TB backup drive, preferably 2 TB. If your laptop has an SSD drive that can hold 256 GB of data, get a backup device that holds 750GB ? 1 TB of data. The bigger the better. After you have nailed down how much space you need (or want), your second consideration should be price range. Do I want a Lacie External Drive that is 1 TB, but costs $200? Or a 1 TB Seagate drive that costs $70? Figure out what you want to spend, knowing that sometimes higher prices mean faster access speeds (not really critical for backups) or better reliability.

Below is a table of price ranges for drive sizes that can help you see how this works (A note here. I do not recommend using an SSD (Solid State Drive) drive as a backup device. Though faster, if they fail, all data will be lost instantly and is not retrievable. “Cloud” backups are prone to being hacked and I would not use them for regular backups either. For the sake of backups for protecting sensitive data, we will stick with regular hard disk drives (HDD):

Once you have decided on the price and the size, consider where you are going to use it. Will you be traveling with it? If so, an ADATA shock-resistant drive from Canada Computers may be helpful. If not, a WD Passport from BestBuy may do. Remember that any drive above 2 TB must have a power cable as well as a data cable. If you have a computer with a large amount of storage space, and you need something above 2 TB, yet you travel a lot, consider only backing up school files. Bigger drives use more power and are less easy to carry around. Remember to balance what you need with what is portable.

Secondly, what program should you use to backup your files? There are so many on the market for both PC’s and Macs! With a Mac, you can use the built in Time Machine utility, or just copy your files over manually. On a PC, I recommend either the Comodo Backup or Cobian Backup software. Both are free. With Cobian, you can set what files or folders you want backed up, and you can even automate the process if need be. Whichever program or method you choose, remember to hook it up and do it regularly. I would recommend doing it every two weeks or at least once a month.

On other devices, such as an Android mobile device, if you can find a dongle that can convert your charging port to a USB port, then you are good to go. You can backup files straight to it by copying and pasting them to the external drive through the built-in file manager. If you have an iPad or an iPhone, backing up your data is limited to cloud options. Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google’s Drive, and Dropbox are all services you can use to backup files.

Finally, remember to store your backup safely away from your computer ? not right beside it if you can help it! One other thing is that a USB thumb drive may be ample as well if you just want to backup school work. A 64?128 GB Thumb drive should be ample space; they are small, and they can be taken everywhere.

Dakota Soares is an entrepreneur taking his BSc through AU, and has many interests including music, information technology, and chicken producing.