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Times are really different right now compared to years past, but today is March 31, and that means it’s World Backup Day. As we’re quarantined and trying to stay healthy, it may be a good time to remind ourselves about the importance of protecting our valuable information. Data loss can strike at any time, and the cost of recovery could be high—unless you have a recent, usable backup. Take the first step by following the 5 Ws of backing up data: who, what, where, when, and why.

WHY should you back up?

Let’s begin with why. Backup copies are a form of insurance against a devastating data loss that can be caused by hardware failure, human error, cyber attacks, and natural disasters. Consider these alarming statistics: According to Cybersecurity Ventures, it’s projected to cost the world $6 trillion by 2021. Moreover, cybercriminals have found a sweet spot—small businesses. According to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report58% of cyber attack victims were small businesses (organizations with fewer than 250 employees).

WHO should back up?

Everyone needs to back up, yet many families and small businesses claim they do not adequately back up their information. According to a Backblaze survey, 24 percent of people never back up their PC and another 17 percent haven’t backed up in more than one year.

WHAT to back up?

Back up data that is difficult and time-consuming to recreate or recover. For personal data, this includes:

  • Personal identification documents such as copies of a driver’s license or a passport.
  • Educational and employment records, including awards, promotions, commendations.
  • Medical records, especially paper records.
  • Passwords and contact lists.
  • Photos, video, or music files, including what is on phones and computers.

Businesses should back up operational, financial, and customer information, including:

  • Accounting databases, including AR and AP records.
  • Financial management reports.
  • Payroll records and employee files.
  • Point-of-sale and transaction history.
  • Customer records and CRM database.
  • Fixed asset inventory, photos, and preventative maintenance logs.
  • R&D, blueprints, and proprietary information.
  • And more.

WHEN to back up?

Back up on a regular schedule. To determine the frequency, think about how much data you create on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Then decide how much you could afford to lose should disaster strike when you are between scheduled backups. Restored data is only as good as your most recent backup.

For a family, backing up several times each year may be sufficient. If you take a lot of photos or work from home as a contractor or creative professional, consider backing up more frequently. Most businesses would benefit from an automated system for daily or weekly backups.

WHERE to store backups?

Once you have decided on a regular backup schedule, follow the 3-2-1 rule for backing up.[4]

  • Make at least three copies of your files and information.
  • Create those backups on two different types of storage media—including USB drives, external hard drives, tape backups, or cloud storage.
  • Keep at least one copy of your backup offsite, either in the cloud or safely in another building, a safe deposit box, or at another business location.

Content provided by CyberScout.

[4] “The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers, 2nd Edition,” p. 207, O’Reilly Media, 2009,

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