Backing Up

Following our article on the benefits of backing up your data with regard to Freedom of Information requests, we have received several requests on what hardware and software should be used and in particular, is a data stick OK.

The process and hardware used should be of professional quality which you may have to employ a specialist to install for you. This rules out data sticks which can be notoriously unreliable.

The ICO, in his guidelines, assumes that back-up devices require specialist attention but this small financial outlay is far outweighed by the benefits.

The best process is a combination of software called “Sync-Back” and a Network Attached Storage Drive known as a NAS.

The NAS connects by cable to your internet router and our preference is the “Stora” from Netgear. Your NAS should be configured with two hard drives of sufficient size and set to ‘mirror’, this means that anything stored on the first drive is automatically stored on the second drive giving you two back-ups at the same time.  This means that if one drive fails the second takes over.

The software in then installed on every computer, because the NAS is attached to the router any computer connected by cable or wirelessly to the router can access the NAS and back up its own files.

We use “Sync-Back” because it has many options in how you want it to operate and probably the best is ‘On Windows Shutdown’. This means that at the end of the day when you shut down or log-off your computer “Sync-Back” pauses the shutdown/log-off process and runs the backup.

When you select the files that you wish to back-up make sure you get everything.

Obviously ‘My Documents’ will be on top of the list but don’t forget email and other programs that you use like accounts, allotments, burial ground, PAYE etc. all of which store their data in different places.

A word of warning about email.  Most of us do the bulk of our correspondence via email and the files that store all that information get very large, so, whilst you could use an on-line back-up service like iCloud, Dropbox etc. instead of a NAS  for all your other files, it would be impossible to back-up email this way, in fact backing up email to a NAS over a wireless connection is a lot slower than using a network cable and of course cables and more reliable than wireless.

If you have any comments or questions please use the form below.


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