File storage is something that many computer users have traditionally not thought about. Instead, they kept files on their computers and hoped that their computer continued to work so their files were always available. A computer crash could very well cause a user to lose all their files leading them to recreate anything they need from scratch; a task that could be very painful. As people have become more familiar with computers they have realized there is always the potential of a crash, regardless of the computer quality or age and as such, I hope most computer users are no longer using this method of storing files.
CD/USB File Storage & Backup
Those who gave their file safety a little more thought, may have used a backup solution such as copying to a CD or a USB drive, so they had a secure backup. This is better than a no backup approach because you at least have the file if your computer crashes. However, any edits you may have done to the files will constantly need to be saved to your backup. If you make important edits and get sidetracked without backing them up, you may lose valuable work. So, if you are using the old method of CD’s you need to have a writable CD and a CD-W drive in your computer which is capable of writing files, otherwise you may have to start from scratch. Backing up is a little easier with a USB drive than with a CD because you can update the file with the new edits more easily and quickly. In addition, USB drives tend to have much more space than a CD or DVD. The major drawbacks of using a CD/DVD or a USB drive is these items can be easily lost or damaged.
Cloud File Storage & Backup
Another solution that is commonly used for backups is a Cloud Backup Service such as Crashplan, iDrive, and Acronis True Image (along with many others), which enable you to select directories/folders on your computer(s) that you want to have backed up. These types of services usually come with a monthly fee and are a solid solution to be able to restore your files if your computer(s) crashes. These services work by copying your files/folders up to their cloud based server and can be scheduled to run at certain times of the day. Some are configurable enough to allow for a backup to occur whenever there is a change to a file so your cloud backup always has the most recent version of every file. This is a great way to ensure what’s on your local computer always matches your backup copy. These solutions aren’t something you need to work with every day. Once you set your preferences it can be easy to forget about this solution until you have a system crash and need your files. Because most people don’t work in these every day, it is important to occasionally check that they are backing up and working as planned.
File Sharing, Storage & Backup Applications
Another great solution is to use a file sharing/storage service such as Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Sharepoint, Google Docs, ShareFile (Citrix Files), Dropbox or Box (along with many others). These solutions let you work via a local application on your computer or through a web browser and the files are updated on both your computer and the web location in real time. One very noticeable difference between the file sharing/storage service and the Cloud Backup service is the File/Sharing and storage is not tied to a certain computer like the backup service is in the case of Crashplan. For Crashplan, you can restore all the files to a different computer, but depending on the size of your storage, this can be very time consuming. However, with the file sharing/storage service you can login on any computer at any time and quickly access your files through the web. In addition, with a quick install of the Client Application to any computer, you can work through it as well.
The file sharing/storage services also have the ability for multiple users to work on the files at the same time which makes the old method of emailing files back and forth obsolete. Another great thing about many of these applications is they also have mobile Apps so you can access/edit your files on your mobile device as well as from your computer. The fact that you are using files all the time and in real time gives you a little more confidence that your files are always safe in the cloud and up to date.
The Perfect File Solution
It isn’t a bad idea to use both the file sharing/storage service in conjunction with one of the cloud backup solutions. That way you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket and are not just relying on one service. If one of your providers happens to have an issue and losses or issues happen with your files you still have access to your work and can get your files back.
For your personal work backups are your responsibility, so depending on the importance of your data you should definitely consider some or all of the above mentioned services to keep your data intact and secure. At iuvo Technologies we use multiple services so we know that are data is safe, secure, intact, and always available. If you would like to discuss file storage, file sharing or best practices associated with any of the above topics, please contact us.