By: Emma Kavanagh
If you, like many PC users, have been using Norton 360 to secure your computer, you know that it and many other great Symantec products can be combined with Norton cloud storage to protect your data; but, it is a good idea to understand the different options that you have in terms of keeping your files safe. I’ve learned, through my own negligence, that data protection is an extremely important concern for both private users and businesses; take advantage of the wide variety of different tools you can use for file protection and find that works best for your own needs, depending on exactly how much data you have and what kinds of technologies are most familiar to you.
Three Major Options in Data Protection
File protection is something many people do not think much about… until it is too late, so it is a good idea to give some thought to exactly how you safeguard your important personal data. In the event of a hardware failure, which can be sudden and unexpected, it can be difficult or impossible to retrieve files from your hard drive. People who live in areas with severe storms can sometimes find a single power surge has wiped their hard drive or made it unreadable. Don’t be a victim of your own negligence.
Forensic data experts can charge hundreds of dollars an hour to retrieve data from damaged hard drives. It is much more convenient (and much cheaper!) to make sure that you have backups of your data available. This is the most fundamental part of data protection, but exactly how should you go about it? Where and how should you store your backups? Well, professionals generally use at least one of these three options: Ultimate protection comes with using all three.
1) Cloud Storage – “Soft Backup”
Cloud storage is available through Symantec – the company behind Norton 360. Basically, storing data “in the cloud” allows it to be available to all of your online-enabled devices quickly and easily. The data is stored within a company’s network, ready to be recalled to your device as soon as you need it. Access to the data can be seamless, as a local copy isn’t always downloaded to your hard drive. Rather, you interact with the file directly online. The “cloud copy” of the file is updated whenever you make changes, and all your devices can be synced from that file.
Cloud storage is extremely convenient, and can put huge resources at the fingertips of private computer users. However, not everyone prefers to use cloud storage. In the wake of recent privacy concerns, more and more users are looking at ways to maintain more personal control of their data. Privacy agreements with major businesses can change rapidly, and some people consider it a headache to keep up. Also, if you have only one or two online-enabled devices, then you may not benefit as much from cloud’s ability to keep multiple devices synchronized.
When it comes to security, this is the most vulnerable option, as data will have to cross the network whenever you use it. You can encrypt your files or enable basic password protection to make them safer.
2) Hard Backup with Storage Media
Rapid growth in USB technology has made USB flash drives a reliable method for protecting backed up files. However, it can be a little bit more complicated than using cloud storage, since you will usually have to personally identify each file that you wish to store and then manually create copies on your backup media. In the past, enterprises and individuals have kept backups on DVD, CD, or even tape, giving them the power to restore a system to a previous state at any time. These days, most computer users will only back up their most important files this way.
Files kept on storage media are usually very safe, as the media itself has to be stolen in order to compromise the backups. Don’t forget, though, that common storage devices are prone to damage or data corruption over time.
3) Backup to a Dedicated Device or Server
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of manually figuring out what files need to be stored, but still want to avoid using cloud storage, there is an option that might be perfect for you. If you own two computers that are networked together, you can use specialized software to back up selected files on a regular basis: Every month, every week, or every day, for example. Tech savvy users often employ older computers as their backup device. The backup device only needs to be turned on during the scheduled backup procedure, and can be offline most of the rest of the time. There are definite advantages in terms of organization and storage size versus USB or other common storage media, but this will require some setting up at first.
Backing up to a dedicated device is an extremely safe option. Hard drives are less likely to experience data corruption than CDs or USB drives, and it’s much harder for a would-be data thief to carry away an entire computer than it is to steal a CD or flash drive.
Need to learn more about backing up your data? Check out these resources I’ve found helpful.