Published March 25, 2023
World Backup Day is coming and we’re celebrating with a simple reminder: Back up your data! On our phones, our laptops, and our computers, each of us has gigabytes—if not terabytes—of data stored in the form of documents, photos, videos, games, and more. With that data stored in just one location, it’s at risk of being lost forever if something goes wrong. Data backup helps eliminate this risk by putting your data in more than one location.
A good rule of thumb is the 3-2-1 rule: store your data in three places, on two different devices, with one at a different location. (1) By backing up your data in line with this standard, you have a failsafe in the event that your primary device is lost, stolen, or damaged.
Before you begin looking for a secondary place for your back up, it’s important to make sure your primary data storage location is as reliable as possible. On your computer or laptop, this means your storage drive.
Older systems use hard disk drives (HDDs), which read and write data via a spinning disk. Although HDDs are a cost-effective storage solution, their spinning-disk architecture is more prone to failure especially as they age, since it involves moving parts to store and access data.
Many newer systems use solid state drives (SSDs), which store data via electrical current in what’s called “flash memory.” This design uses transistors, or cells, to store data as electrical current, so it has no moving parts. This means SSDs are less susceptible to errors or failure over time—and the data proves it. (2) Check out our guide on SSD vs HDD reliability for a more in-depth comparing drive failure rates over time.
Data loss is preventable, but it still happens more than it should. Loss, theft, and device malfunctions are just some of the reasons behind data’s disappearance. There are plenty of ways you can back up your data but here are a few of our favorites.
The most popular form of data backup, cloud storage services are a simple, hardware-free way to store your data. Plus, it has the added benefit of accessibility from just about anywhere. The downside is that there is generally a monthly or annual fee, although some services have a small amount of free storage available.
These are some of the most popular options when it comes to companies that operate cloud storage servers for your personal data. Each has data storage plans at a variety of price points based on gigabytes (GB) of data used. All get high marks for reliability, ease-of-use, and affordability.
Google’s Google Drive is a cloud storage option that will allow you to back up your Android and Windows devices automatically. You can also store files created in Google Drive on both Mac and Windows PCs. It integrates with many third-party apps as storage and syncs across desktops. Best of all, it offers more free storage than many other options, and buying additional GB is extremely affordable.
Amazon’s AWS is a backup service that centralizes and automates backup plans. While not quite “set it and forget it,” once you have your plan established, you don’t need to babysit it too much. Paid for on average GB per month used, it’s more focused on businesses than individuals, but that does not mean you shouldn't look into it for your personal backups too.
Apple’s iCloud is ideal for iPhone and Mac users who want an easy solution for their backups. In minutes, you can set up automatic backups. This truly is a “set it and forget it” for Mac users. However, if you use Android and Windows devices, this is not the cloud backup service for you.
Microsoft’s OneDrive is a great choice if you already use Microsoft 365. OneDrive offers automatic backup for documents, photos, and other files. It also syncs documents in Microsoft Office apps. It works on both Windows and Mac devices, so anyone can use it across devices and accounts.
Dropbox has been around a long time, yet it still makes our list of the best backup cloud services today. It’s reliable, integrates with hundreds, if not thousands, of applications and syncs quickly and easily. And with its long legacy, so many people have a Dropbox account—even if they don’t use it regularly—that it’s a safe bet you can share files and photos with almost anyone.
IDrive has great value with a low price per GB for online storage and syncing. It's easy to set up for both online backup as well as to an external drive. It’s better for Windows users rather than Mac or Linux users.
Using a cloud storage service is as easy as signing up online. It takes just a few minutes. And many cloud storage services offer several gigabytes free to start. If you’re using Windows, check to see what OneDrive options are available on your system. If you use Mac OS or iOS, set up cloud storage through your phone or computer in a few simple steps.
Wondering whether cloud storage is safe? According to an in-depth survey conducted by cloud service provider Backblaze, 3 in 5 people already back up to the cloud. (3) Corporations are getting onboard with cloud backups too, with 60% of corporate data stored in the cloud per a recent Statista study. (4) Just the same, you’ll note that we suggest choosing a large, stable company, since they have proven their staying-power in the industry.
While cloud storage is easy and ultra-accessible, its free versions fill up fast and larger paid plans can be expensive. For users storing large amounts of data, we recommend purchasing an external drive in addition to using cloud storage.
Like floppy discs or memory sticks from years past, external hard drives are hardware storage solutions that connect to your system, typically via USB, to store and transfer data. On a price-per-gigabyte comparison, most drives can be quite cost-effective. This is especially true because external drives only need to be purchased once—unlike cloud storage plans, which typically come with monthly or annual storage fees.
When searching for an external hard drive to fit your needs, you’ll once again be confronted with a choice between HDDs and SSDs as potential options. HDDs are the more cost-effective option at checkout, but they’re more prone to failure and slower to read and write data. SSDs, in contrast, are faster and more reliable, which might make them the wiser choice over the lifetime of your device.
Sometimes the easiest data backup solution is the one right in front of you. If you’re looking for a place to back up photos and videos from your phone, your computer is an excellent option. You can store data locally via your drive or you can check for integrated cloud services. On Windows systems, that’s OneDrive. On Mac OS system, that’s iCloud.
Often, your computer purchase includes some cloud backup storage as part of the purchase price, at least for a limited time. Just make sure that once the “free” period ends, you either move your data or sign up for the paid service.
Many phones today have nearly a terabyte of local storage, which means they can handle a huge collection of photos, videos, documents and more. If you have files on your computer that you also access on your phone, a simple download onto the phone itself is a great way to keep them safe.
Smartphones are also an easy way to set up cloud storage, so if you’re worried about the data on your phone or other system disappearing, getting started with a cloud service provider on your smartphone is easy. iPhones are tightly integrated with iCloud, and Android phones have plenty of options, including Google, OneDrive, and more.
The internet of things (IoT) is here to stay, and home networks are bigger than ever. (To say nothing of commercial networks, which are even larger.) If you’re dealing with multiple devices across multiple trustworthy users in your space, setting up a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) system may be the way to go.
NAS systems are dedicated file-storage solutions containing one or more storage drives that enable multiple users to collaborate and share data via a Local Area Network (LAN). With a NAS, each system serves as a backup for the others through sharing over a secure network. We recommend a NAS backup for small businesses, tech-savvy PC users, and smart home users to back up their data. Click here to find out about Solidigm Client SSDs you can use for your NAS.
Your data is more than just bits and bytes. It’s a collection of your work, your passions, and your memories. It deserves to be protected and preserved. Celebrate World Backup Day by making a commitment to back up your data. A simple backup plan, put in place now, can save you from a serious loss in the future. Don’t wait—celebrate! And back up your data today.