“This must be Thursday, I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”*

On this particular Thursday a colleague asked me to write a blog for the company website.
Any topic you like she said. Need it by Tuesday she said.
So, I went away and thought about it. Mentioned it to my wife, who put on her English lecturer hat and started to explain I need to set out a plan. Think about what I wanted to say and how to structure it she said.
Nah I thought just sit in front of the keyboard and type. Structure, plan, pah!
So here goes.

Backups.
There’s a topic. “Get around to it one day”, is what we all tend to say.
BUT we all should stop and actually make it happen. We all have a lot of data, whether it be documents, photos or cat videos that we have accumulated in the digital age and which we don’t want to lose.
If you have a Microsoft Windows version 8.0, 8.1 or 10, you will have 5GB of free OneDrive cloud storage, if you are an Apple user you also get 5GB of iCloud storage. Google gives anyone with a Gmail / Googlemail account 15GB of cloud storage space.
Most of us are either unaware of these products that we are automatically signed up to or just don’t make use of them.
Depending on how your Windows PC is setup OneDrive will automatically backup your Documents, Pictures and Desktop folders to the cloud.
If you are on an Apple product and again depending on if the product has been altered from the default settings iCloud will back up Photos, Videos, Mail and more.
With Google’s cloud storage, options and setup are more product dependent. For instance, on a PC you would need to install Google Drive and configure it as required. If you use an Android phone, then the Google Drive app is pre-installed. For Apple users download the Google Drive app from the App Store.
Another source of cloud storage is Microsoft’s Office 365 product. This comes with a massive 1TB of storage space as part of the package. This is OneDrive as mentioned comes free with Windows but has much greater capacity as you are paying for it as part of the Office software suite.
There are other Cloud storage options available including BT’s Cloud which comes free with some BT internet subscriptions and Dropbox which again comes free with some products.
As you can imagine these services are all well and good but for the majority of people the free version doesn’t have enough capacity. You could sign up for a number of free services and spread your data around them or upgrade the service to a paid for version. These are generally on a subscription basis and paid monthly. Have a look at the amount of storage you are currently using on your product and go for the service one above your current usage level, as this will allow for new content as well as existing to be backed up.
All of these cloud storage products offer a viable backup option, as they can be automated, don’t require any additional hardware and the content is available anywhere around the world at any time. The one issue with cloud storage is you have no idea where your data is being stored. It could be anywhere in the world that the company you are storing data with has a presence. Now to some people and big organisations (i.e. Councils and Governments) this is a problem but to most of us it doesn’t matter where our photos or documents are being stored. The important aspect for most people is that they know that their precious photos and documents are being backed up.
These backups to the cloud are not just limited to being just a backup, they can also be used as a sharing platform for yourself or other authorised people. For instance, if you have your Android phone backing up to Google Drive. You can open the Google Drive application on your desktop or laptop PC enter your login credentials and view the phone data, such as photos or videos, on that device. With OneDrive you can share content with other people by sending a link via email to the person you wish to allow access to.
As important as setting up automated backup is, it is just as important to know it’s working, so should disaster strike you are certain that your data is all available. So logging in to the backup, preferably on a different product to the one being backed up and checking that the backup is a: up to date, b: downloadable c: useable (i.e. can you see the photo or open the document?) is just as important. I recall in days passed storing photos on to CDs and just assuming that it would be fine. Never tried the discs on another PC to make sure they could be read. Found out later that one of the discs hadn’t “burnt” properly and lost all the photos. Lesson learnt, check your backups.
So, in summary I’m saying check what cloud backup you currently have, make use of it and just as importantly check it is working.
Oh, and finally please get in touch if we can be of any assistance with this or any other technology related issue.
Nigel.

*This quote is from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, written by the late, great Douglas Adams.

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