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Data Security: Backups

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NOTE: For University computers and mobile devices, contact the IT Service Desk regarding proper backup procedures.  This page is for personal equipment only.

In today’s world—from theft, corruption, and malware infections like ransomware—it is very important to create periodic backups to protect against data loss. 

How often should I backup my data?

Even though this is World Backup Day, we recommend that you backup more than once per year.  Ask yourself "How much data are you willing to lose?"  If you only willing to lose two days work, then back up every other day.  If you are willing to lose a weeks worth of data then back up once a week.    It really depends on the work you do and the importance of the document.  

A good rule of thumb is to create a secure backup according to the 3-2-1 Rule which means you create triple redundancy for your files in the event your primary copy and backup fails you have another copy left.  This is especially important for things you don't want to lose.

It is also a good idea to keep your copies in different locations in the event something occurs at the location (e.g., water leak).

What do I backup?

It is very important to backup your data.  The operating system (e.g., Windows or Mac) and the programs can be reinstalled.  Your data is priority in a backup.  Your data can be anything from documents to pictures and videos.

Do I need a special backup program?

Not necessarily.  A backup is just a copy of your data and once you know where that is located you can move it yourself.

Where do I store my copy of the data?

Media for Backups
USB Drive (e.g., Flash Drive, Jump Drive, or Keychain Drives)
External Hard Drive
Cloud Drive – DropBox or OneDrive or Google Drive
Physical Media – CDR, CDRW, DVD, DVDR

Back Up Your Files  - Personal PC

Windows Vista:
Windows 7:
Windows 8.1 & Windows 10:
OS X Lion (10.7), Mountain Lion (10.8), Mavericks (10.9), Yosemite (10.10), and El Capitan (10.11):

Back Up Your Files – Mobile Devices

Android Phone:
Windows Phone:

What else can I do to prevent data loss other than backing up my data?

Many students and employees use laptops, tablets and mobile phones because of their mobility, but they are also more vulnerable to loss oor theft.

  • Never leave these devices unattended, even for a minute
  • Use a cable lock mechanism to secure your device to an immobile piece of furniture 
  • Install laptop recovery software, such as LoJack ( for laptops
  • Talk to your home insurance rep about covering your mobile devices through your homeowner's policy
  • Always lock your room, office, or care when you leave
  • Never leave valuables in plain sight

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Published on March 30, 2016