Travel Tip: The Importance of Backing Up Your Technology

Working in IT one of the biggest things pounded into your head is having a good backup. You really don’t know when a piece of hardware is going to fail or a user is just going to be stupid and delete something they shouldn’t have resulting in the loss of data. This stuff happens all the time and the best way to be prepared for it is to make sure to have a good backup that you can recover. Often times the files that are lost are extremely critical and the backup is worth its weight in gold.

In my travels, I have ran into instances where something went majorly wrong. The first one was my phone security fail. What happened is the phone got to the lock screen to put in the PIN in. I must have incorrectly pocket dialed the PIN at least 10 times because it reached the wipe threshold and reset my phone to factor defaults. Basically, all the data including the many pictures I took were gone.

Now the phone itself being wiped was one of many ways the data could have been destroyed and probably one of the lesser likely ways. A phone can easily be broken, stolen, submerged in water, or even get a virus that wipes out the data. You can also accidentally delete files and the files will be gone forever if they are not backed up. With my phone security fail, this was the case with the recent pictures I took since my previous backup was about a week before that.

In addition, one other technology fail I had was when I blew away the operating system on my Mac. In this case, I did have everything backed up, but it was still a reminder on how important it is to back things up.

My travel tip today is to make sure you back up your technology. Eventually, you will have some sort of crises that cause you to lose critical data if it’s not backed up. Professionally, I’ve seen it many times and personally I’ve experienced it several times.

What I used to do is do a manual backup to my computer every week and also an external hard drive. For the most part, this seemed to work for me until I realized how much data I was generating in a week and the potential risk of losing a week’s worth of data. If you are on a tight budget and want to save money, doing this kind of backup is obviously much better than nothing, but it does carry its own set of risks.

The first risk involved with backing your technology up say to another piece of technology or an external hard drive is it can be a manual, time-consuming process that can be prone to human error. You may miss files in your manual copies or the manual process may be done at an infrequent basis that you end up not backing up all your data and still lose some. A second risk involves the fact that you most likely have the backup and the primary devices in the same location so if something physically happens, you are still at risk of losing all your data. If this is all you can afford, I still highly recommend accepting these risks because they’re much lower than the risks of not having a backup at all.

What I currently do is use the cloud for my backups and then backup the cloud to an external hard drive that is located in a safe. Yes I know this is paranoid, but I guess any good IT guy is a bit paranoid in terms of security and backups. I currently use Google Contacts to backup my contacts and then I use Dropbox to sync my pictures. If my phone were to get destroyed, lost, stolen, or something else where to happen to it, I could easily buy another phone, log into my cloud accounts and then let everything sync back. Because I don’t fully trust the cloud either, I also do an occasional external hard drive backup and store it in the safe for good measure.

There are some drawbacks of using the cloud when it comes to doing backups. First off, it costs money. I generate a lot of content so I have to pay for at least 1 terabyte of space. Most cloud services like Dropbox, Google Cloud, or Apple Cloud charge around $10 a month. Obviously, that has its own costs to it.

Another issue is actually syncing things up. We all know cell phone reception can be spotty, internet in rural areas can suck, or just using your data plan is way too expensive. If you generate high resolution multimedia content, it can be next to impossible to fully back it up. If you’re paranoid like me, you let things sync up before moving on. This can definitely hold you back on your travels, or if you don’t back things up it can take away your peace of mind.

With that, you really need to backup your technology. There’s a bunch of different services out there and I personally used Dropbox and Google Contacts. I’d highly recommend going with a cloud service to put your backups in a completely separate location than where you’re at. If this isn’t practical from a connection standpoint or financial standpoint, backing up each device on another device is way better than not at all. Hopefully you will never have a crisis where you need to use your backups, but if you do you will realize that the backups are worth their weight in gold.

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