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What are three personal data backup best practices?

Is your personal data secure? Backup best practices for consumers include regularly backing up data and taking advantage of different types of storage media.

There are countless data backup best practices, but here are three that are especially important for consumers who wish to protect their personal data.

If you've ever had your hard drive fail or suffered data loss as a result of a ransomware attack, you know that any data created or modified since the time of your last backup is gone. As such, you should back up your system on a regular basis. Failing to create backups regularly is the single most common mistake that consumers make with regard to their data.

Second on our list of personal data backup best practices is to test your backups to ensure you can actually restore your data if needed. You might, for example, try restoring data to an old PC or even to a virtual machine to verify that things are working as they should.

Even if backups are completing successfully, there are no guarantees that the data within those backups is good or that it can be recovered with the required degree of granularity. I have seen situations in which someone created an image backup that was valid for restoring an entire system, but it did not allow for the recovery of individual files or folders. Similarly, a file-level backup may not allow for the recovery of the OS or applications. Personal data backup testing is the only way to know for sure how well you are protected against disaster.

Finally, keep backups safe with the use of multiple external hard drives or other media. To avoid wear and tear over time, don't leave a drive plugged into your computer. When the drive is not being used, store it somewhere safe -- in a bank safety deposit box, for example -- so that the data will be protected in the event of a disaster.

By following these data backup best practices, consumers can ensure their personal data remains up to date and safe from ransomware attacks and other issues that could wipe out important information.

This was last published in February 2018

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