Backups: When and How to Use Them

Back-up Data

At some point, you will most likely have some computer malfunction that causes loss of some or all of your personal files, documents or photos. Maybe you accidentally deleted the wrong file, experienced a hardware failure, or lost your laptop. Even worse, malware may have infected your computer. In times like these, backups are often the only way you can rebuild your digital life or recover critical data.

What to Back Up and When

There are two approaches on deciding what to back up:

  1. Specific data that is important to you
  2. Everything including your operating system

If you are not sure what to back up then the best approach may be backing up everything. You should also consider how often you want to back up. Apple’s Time Machine or Microsoft Backup and Restore allow you to create an automatic “set it and forget it” backup schedule. Other solutions can allow continuous protection in which new or altered files are immediately backed up as soon as there closed.

How to Back Up

You can store your files in two ways:

Physical Media:

Backing up to physical media keeps your files on a physical storage device, such as DVD’s, USB devices or an external hard drive. Whichever media you choose, never back up your files to the device that holds your original files. It’s also smart to label your physical media with info about the backup and the date it was created.

Some disadvantages to storing on physical media is the possibility of disaster or theft. Physical media can be lost, stolen or damaged just as easily as the original files.

Cloud-based solutions:

Cloud-based storage works by installing a program (client) that automatically backs up your files for you. You can pay for cloud storage providers to store your backups. The price is normally determined by the size of the backup.

The advantage of this solution is in the event of a disaster or theft, your files will be virtually stored off-site. Additionally, you can access these files from anywhere. The disadvantages of cloud-based backups are that recovery can be slower especially if you have a large amount of data and you will also need to ensure that the cloud service provider can store this data securely to prevent unauthorized access.


After backing up your data, it’s always a good to be certain that you can recover it. Check every month that your backups are working by recovering a file and validating the contents. Additionally, be sure to make a full system backup before a major upgrade such as moving to a new computer or mobile device or before a major repair.

Key Points Summary

  • Automate your backups
  • When rebuilding an entire system from backup be sure to reapply the latest security patches and update before using again
  • Outdated backups may become a liability so it is recommended to delete these backups to prevent unauthorized access and in the case that cloud storage is used, manage your storage capacity and related costs
  • Be sure to verify that cloud backup and storage providers have security measures in place to protect the data by checking the policies and reputation of your cloud provider:
    • Ask if they encrypt your data when it is stored
    • Determine who has access to your backups
    • Verify they support strong authentication, such as two-step verification

Securing Your Tablet


While hackers pose a serious problem, there’s also the risk of losing, forgetting or having your devices stolen. Keep your tablets safe by following these tips:

  • Lock your tablet with a secure pass code
  • Run automatic updates for the latest and safest operating system
  • Enable remote tracking to locate your tablet if lost or stolen
  • Disable all applications’ location tracking in privacy settings, except for those that need it
  • Know where and how your data is secured within the cloud
  • Only enable cloud sharing when sharing something specific
  • Be aware of what apps synchronize with your other devices

Cyber-Attacks: Don’t Be Fooled By Internet Foes

Trusting other online

One of today’s most effective cyber-attack methods is to take advantage of the human tendency to trust.

Social engineering, a form of psychological manipulation where an attacker cons users into divulging information or doing something they want the user to do, can occur through phone calls, email, text messaging, social media and online chats.

Indicators of social engineering attacks include:

  • A tremendous sense of urgency, or pressure to make a quick decision
  • Someone asking for information they should already know
  • Something too good to be true

To avoid social engineering attacks, never share your passwords and don’t share too much personal information on social media, which can give attackers information to mislead you. If someone asks for something personal, verify their contact information first.

Do You Know The Keys To Creating A Strong Password?


A password unlocks a kingdom of information — yet people often make themselves vulnerable to cyber attack by using weak passwords.

To create better passwords, use these password safety tips:

  • Use at least 12 upper and lowercase letters, symbols and special characters
  • Make an acronym out of a memorable sentence: My 1st son was born at Atlanta Hospital at 2:30pm= M1swb@AH@2:30pm
  • Don’t use personal information easily found from a Google search or social media
  • Don’t store your passwords in a Word document or on paper
  • Use different passwords for each account
  • Never share your password
  • Avoid logging into accounts on public computers or unsecured WiFi

If you believe your password has been compromised, change your password right away. If you need help, contact EarthLink Support.