Data Backup and Sync Strategies #1: What Data Should You Back Up?


(Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a data backup and sync series here on WorkAwesome.)

Backing up your data. It’s common sense, right? You should backup your data as often as possible. Simple, isn’t it? Yet everyday we hear horror stories of people losing important information because their laptop was stolen, computer was hacked or a hard drive failed.

So, while you know that data should be backed up, it is important that you setup automated processes so that it is done behind the scenes every day. Keep in mind that losing data means a huge loss in productivity (apart from mental stress). You don’t want your hard work to go waste, right?

It is also important to keep your data synchronized across all the devices you use. This is the era of iPads and Androids. All these devices are capable of doing almost everything a computer can do. It is very likely that we have important information stored in them.

Keeping data in sync serves two purposes:

  1. It eliminates the dependency on one particular device for accessing data that matters.
  2. It adds a layer of safety to your data because now it’s present at multiple locations.

What Should You Backup

1. Files and Folders in Your Computer

To start with, we need to get the files and folders stored on the hard disk backed up to a different location. Just relying on the internal hard disk, which is vulnerable to crashes, isn’t prudent.

2. Bookmarks

Browser bookmarks are important personal data, too. Don’t forget that if your computer goes down, it takes all your browsers along with it. That would mean your bookmarks getting deleted as well. So backing them up is important. Here are some bookmark sync methods we’ve already discussed at WorkAwesome.

3. Browser Preferences

Along with the bookmarks, browser preferences like extensions, passwords, customized options etc should also be backed up. In fact, if you have your browser data backed up and synchronized with an online service, you could quickly get them in a browser on another computer and then browse in your own, familiar environment.

4. Passwords

If you store the passwords of your online accounts in your browser then the points 2 and 3 apply. If you are using a password manager, make sure it’s a good one. I’d also recommend you remember some of the main passwords, like password of your Gmail account.

5. Credit Card & Account Numbers

What about the offline stuff like credit cards and bank accounts, for example? Isn’t it better to have a record of all those numbers stored somewhere safe ?

6. Emails

What’s the need to backup emails? Aren’t they already backed up by the email service providers?

Well, in cases like Gmail and Yahoo Mail they are. But still, it’s good to have a copy somewhere else, just in case your email acocunt is blocked or compromised. And for those who are on hosted email solutions which comes with a webhost, you’d want to back them up always.

7. Your Twitter & Facebook Data

If you’ve spent a significant part of your life updating your Twitter and Facebook statuses, then it might be wise to backup some of that data as well.

8. Business Data

Whether you own an offline or an online business, data backup should be a priority. Like, if you own a website like me, you should ensure that it’s backed up.

9. Cellphone Data

Your cellphone contacts, messages and other such stuff is important too. Back them as a safe measure in case you lose your phone.

Things to Keep In Mind Before Choosing a Tool

There are data backup solutions galore. All kinds of tools can be found that promise foolproof backup. So how do you choose? Here are some points to consider:

1. Does it Sync?

As I mentioned earlier, you should not just backup – you should sync as well. So, check out if the backup solution you want to go for has a sync option. If it does, survey how well it works.

2. Is Restoring Easy?

This is a fundamental problem with a huge number of backup services. While they make the backup process a cakewalk, restoring it in case your data is lost is a herculean task. Most of them make the restore process too complicated. Keep this factor in mind when narrowing down choices.

3. Is Support Available?

Finally, what if something goes wrong with the backup? What if the tool stops working? Is there a support option available in the form of email, chat or may be a forum where you can find people using the same tool? If it’s a paid tool, this option is usually there. For free tools, you’ll probably have to rely on tech forums.

Next time:  I’ll discuss the best tools available to get the backing up and syncing jobs done.


Abhijeet Mukherjee is the editor of Guiding Tech, a blog that publishes in-depth articles and tutorials on all things tech, including mobile news and tutorials. He's been into web working since 2008 and continues to enjoy each day of it. He loves to interact with people so hit him up on Twitter.
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Discussion

  1. Carl Natale on the 13th August

    I hadn’t thought of backing up browser preferences. That would help a lot. Thanks for taking on this topic.

  2. wrerm on the 13th August

    Nice article…. just one thing I would have love some recommendations to back-up solutions you use as well.

    • Mike Vardy on the 13th August

      That’s coming up later in the series (the next installment, I believe). Stay tuned…

  3. Ronil on the 13th August

    There is an mispelling error in the first line of the Bookmarks section

    • Mike Vardy on the 13th August

      Thanks for catching that, Ronil! All fixed!

    • Mike Vardy on the 13th August

      All fixed, Ronil! Thanks!

  4. Grant Palin on the 13th August

    If you use Firefox, try the MozBackup tool. It can be used to back up and restore you Firefox and Thunderbird profiles, including settings, bookmarks, passwords, cookies, and emails. Simply indispensable!

  5. illz on the 13th August

    I did quite a few research on this because 2 weeks ago I backed up my computer. This is my information I found and used:

    I completely wiped my pc to give it a fresh start. It was starting to slow down. Heres my steps

    1. Bought True Image
    2. Bought 1tb internal HDD. I did not buy external because the speed is limited to the USB write speed.
    3. Created a partition back up, NOT an image. I only have 500gb used, so I want to use the rest of my 1tb for other things, and that is why I did a partition backup instead. With a partition backup all files are copied and accessible non compressed. This way I can just drag and drop files I want to my C drive.
    4. completely wiped my HDD with windows disk. All my files are on my backup HDD.
    5. After installing windows again (or restore to factor settings) I manually dragged and drop the things I wanted to my main HDD (C drive). I did not want to restore an image seeing that it might restore unwanted files.
    6. After I got all set THEN I did a Image backup to be the restore point in case anything happens down the line.
    7. I’m now thinking of using mozy to do a sync backup online. I don’t recommend starting with any online backup because they are WAY to slow. It will take you days to backup all of your data. I recommened buying another HDD to put your backup

  6. Shannon Noack on the 13th August

    Great article! You can never backup too many things, it’s so true. You only end up regretting it if it’s too late. Thanks for the list!

  7. Jessica Bosari on the 14th August

    The problem with syncing is that it ties you to a desk. Are there options for back up syncing that you can carry around the house with you?

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