Options for Lone Users Who Must Back Up their Data

The saying goes, “There are two kinds of computer users; those who’ve lost their data and those who haven’t lost their data yet.”

The truth of the matter is that, eventually, something will happen that will result in data loss: a virus, a lightning strike, a cyberattack, a stolen laptop, a server failure, a hard drive crash… the list goes on. Simply banking on the fact that they won’t happen to YOUR network or YOUR machine is foolhardy.

Technology companies such as TNSC exist, at least partly, because these dangers are lurking, and no one is immune. TNSC’s mission is to protect against glitches (manmade or otherwise) that plague technology. Their most basic safeguard method: backing up all data. That means replicating the files somewhere else – off of the user’s machine or network – so that, in the case of a data loss, the files can be restored. Backing up is vital. Non-negotiable. So they do it regularly – and with redundancy – for their clients, most of which are small-to-mid-sized businesses.

But what of the lone wolves? The one-or-two-person agencies? The freelancers? Those without an IT consultant who takes care of it for them? They’re equally vulnerable to viruses, their computer parts will fail, and their hard drives will reach end of life, and die. And, if their files are not backed up, they’ll lose them too, with little chance of restoration.

Fortunately, there are some simple solutions for lone wolves. Experts generally agree on a 3-2-1 backup strategy: Have 3 copies of your data – 2 of them stored onsite, but on different devices (like an external hard drive or DVD), and 1 copy off-site (like the cloud).

Onsite options:

Optical drives. This simple method involves saving documents and images onto DVDs or BluRays, which are then saved in a binder or cabinet. While inefficient for daily backups (it must be done manually) and for accessing versions of files, it’s good for storing pockets of data, such as medical records, tax files, etc.

External hard drive. This solution requires the user to connect the drive to their computer, usually by USB, and then install and configure the software that runs the backup program. Most external drives come with backup software, or a user can run the backup utility that came with the operating system. The initial backup can take hours, but after that, it’s only a few keystrokes and a few moments of backing up time. Pre-setting automatic backups, for when a computer is idle, is also an option.

Clone hard drive. With this solution, a user copies the contents, apps and settings of a computer’s hard drive and saves it to another storage medium, such as a DVD or another computer’s hard drive. The con here is that the data saved represents only a moment in time, so, even if it is done daily, there is a period of time where versions of any document will not be restorable.


Use an online cloud-based service such as Microsoft Azure or Carbonite. For approximately $59.99 a year, a user can install the program on their computers, and all of its files will be backed up automatically to the cloud, without further steps from the user. It’s “set-it-and-forget-it” at its best. If/when necessary, users can access their files easily from any internet-connected computer or device (even their tablet or phone, with the installation of an app).

Of course, there are pros and cons related to each method.

The pros for onsite devices: backed-up data is always close by, and in the event of a data loss, it’s relatively easy and very quick to restore data from them. The con: these methods don’t suffice on their own if there’s a natural disaster, such as a fire or flood; they’ll likely be lost along with the computer (unless a user thinks ahead and store copies of, say, a DVD with the most important data off site, too).

The pros for cloud-based services: data is safeguarded against any local disaster, and is readily accessible through other devices if the computer is toast. The cons: users put their security in a company over which it has no control; it will always take longer to recover data from cloud than to pop in a DVD.

Like with any assets, diversification is key, so the more backups you have, the safer your data will be.

For more on what TNSC offers for Backup and Disaster Recovery, click here (https://www.network-support.com/services/disaster-recovery-backup-storeit/)