How do you backup yours and your clients’ work? Or here’s another question for you, do you backup yours and your clients’ work? It’s something we all know must be done on a regular basis, but do you actually do it all that regularly?

Let me tell you, nowadays it’s so important to backup all your files. Frequently. What if your PC or Mac stops working? What if your computer gets a virus? What if your laptop gets stolen or lost whilst out and about? Would you be able to start work immediately from another machine? Do you have all your clients contact details, work requirements and files elsewhere?

If the answer is no, then you really need to get some backup, and soon.

There are different solutions available, which are growing by the week. However the main three are: External Storage Devices, Hard Disk Imaging and Cloud Solutions. Let’s look at each one individually to help you decide which is the best option for you.

  1. External Storage Devices: Such as an external hard drive, a flash drive or the good old CD / DVD. The main benefits of choosing an external hard drive is that they offer great portability and durability, and you can choose the size of storage that you want, which in turn determines the price you pay. Another bonus is that since you only connect it to your computer when you need to (via the USB port) it is less likely to come under attack from online viruses which may corrupt your computer’s files. The flash drive offers less storage space, but it’s pocket-sized and a lot cheaper than the external hard drive option. However its durability isn’t quite so good – being smaller it’s easier to lose, and not coming in a protected shell, it’s easier to break. The final option here is to burn your data onto a DVD or CD. This is an extremely simple solution which is also very cost-effective, but obviously there’s the matter of space and where to store them securely.
  2. Hard Disk Imaging: Also known as cloning. This is a very reliable option for your VA / small business. The software basically takes a snapshot of your hard drive in the event of a system failure, allowing you to reboot your data quickly and easily. It’s a great option for non-tech savvy computer users. You just need to remember to update the clone you’ve created on a regular basis to cover any new files added to your device. The top ones are: Acronis True Image Home, Paragon Backup & Recovery 11 Home, and Norton Ghost.
  3. Cloud Solutions: There are numerous cloud solutions available that offer varying degrees of free storage with the option to upgrade to a paid service offering more storage and additional features. These allow you to store your data  remotely online which is great if you want to access them from anywhere in the world and from any machine. The better solutions offer file encryption and only you have access to your account via a personal login and password. This option is extremely easy to manage and a quick way of backing up your data. Obviously there are some drawbacks as well, such as needing the internet in order to access your backed up files, and there are potential security threats from using cloud solutions depending on each one’s own security mechanisms. If you’re concerned, you need to check each one individually. Here are some of the top cloud solutions: Just Cloud, Dropbox, Mozy, and Microsoft Skydrive.

So it really just comes down to what you prefer. If you want the ease and manageability of an online solution, use cloud storage. If you prefer to have a physical storage device that you can take with you, the external hard drive or flash drive is probably best for you. But if you just want the reassurance that you have a copy of all your current work and files, then head down the hard disk imaging route.

Have you tried and tested any of these and discovered your own preference? Why do you like? Are there any negatives? Leave your comments below.