Protect Your Data

Guide to Protecting your Data

Make sure you do not lose your valuable data or have it fall in to the wrong hands.

Simplest rule in keeping your data safe against loss is to always have a copy of all your important files, music and pictures at 2 locations or more ALL the time.

Protection against Hackers

Most forms of hacking are now down using automated programs and having them distributed enmass with the hope that some peoples systems are exposed to these forms of attacks. You shouldn’t need to worry about a direct attempt to hack your system by an individual or group unless ou are a large corporation, in which case you would need a dedicated I.T. team to look after your security.

So to make sure you are at least protected against automated attacks you should

  • Make sure your Anti-virus software is enabled and activated.
  • Make sure your Firewall software is activated. If you do not have one make sure the Windows built in firewall is enabled.
  • DO NOT click on links in emails. Even if from a friend, or bank or facebook. Many of these are fake “phishing” emails trying to trick you into giving them your passwords. Try and go to the website directly using a browser, or at the very least move the mouse icon over the link and the status bar at the bottom over the browser should give you the exact location the link is sending you to. If it looks suspicious, avoid clicking.

Protection against Theft.

Carrying your laptop around is convenient but also increases the chance of your laptop and all the data on it being stolen and accessed, including any passwords you may have and other private information.

A Windows password is easily bypassed so that is not enough protection for sensitive information so to protect your data from being accessed. So here are a few options for you.

  • Setup a BIOS password. The BIOS menu can be accessed by pressing either “F2” or “Del” on most computers (check your manual), and there you can set a password for the computer which is more secure,
  • Setup a Hard Drive Password. A BIOS password does not protect accessing the hard drive on another computer. In the same BIOS menu as above a password can be set for the hard drive. Not many computers have this option but it is a very secure option.
  • Data Encryption. Encrypt all your important files and documents, so a password is needed if they are to be opened or read. You should also encrypt your important files when you copy them to a USB flash drive or external drive than can also be lost or stolen. We recommend Truecrypt as a good free encryption tool, and Folder Lock as a easier to use but paid for alternative.

As a precaution if your computer is stolen, start changing all your password for your accounts and email addresses.

To save you from losing the data for your own personal use remember to have it backed up on a second location, using methods listed below.

If you have already backed up to a second location, try and avoid storing both items in the same bag, just in case the whole bag gets stolen.

 

Protection against Hardware failure

The Hard drive is what stores your data a computer. Unfortunately these fail on a very regular basis so they cannot be relied upon to store your data. So to protect yourself against a hard drive failing you should save all your important data on 2 separate hard drives at all times, or at least on a flash drive. 2 hard drives failing at the same time is much less likely.

There are multiple ways of doing this, and a variety of hardware to choose from which will be listed below.

 

Backup Hardware Recommended

The following are recommendations on hardware which has a good record of reliability and ease of use. There are many alternatives all with similar technologies which you can choose from also.

 

Backup at Home/Office

Ideally you would have a full size external hard disk. They’re a bit more reliable than the portable hard disk, plus come in larger sizes. If you want to backup multiple computers to one hard drive then a Network Attached Storage (NAS) hard drive can backup computers over a network.

 

LaCie 2Big Range

This device has 2 internal drives and when setup in Raid1 format will automatically copy your data to both drives, for extra security.

Variety of connections to choose from including USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Network (NAS), Firewire and esata connections.

hd 2bignetwork 5

Portable Storage

For carrying around large amounts of data, these are invaluable. Don’t need to be plugged in to a power source, work right off USB/Firewire, very convenient and come in much larger sizes than USB Flash drives. Just don’t drop them as any impact can really damage the internals and leave your data lost permanently.

 

LaCie Rugged Range

Quite a bit more expensive than most portable hard drives and less portable, but in terms of keeping your data safe, this is highly recommended. It’s shock proof to 2.2 metres, has scratch-protected aluminium shell and shock-resistant rubber sleeve making the LaCie Rugged Hard Disk especially resistant to harsh elements for extra protection wherever you go.

 hd rugged 1

Pocket Storage

USB Flash Drive

Technology has been around for a while, and now 32GB available at an affordable price. Not as fast as a hard drive, but generally more resilient.

Very small differences between brands, and new USB3 drives have only shown small increases in speed, so any USB flash drive will do.

Only advice is buy from reputable dealer. Some USB drives are sold as larger than they actually are.

 usb

 

Backup Methods

There are many different ways to backup your data. Some easy and automated, others a bit trickier.

 

  • Manual Copy

The most simplistic and basic method of backing up your data.
Simply Involves plugging in an external drive and copying all the folders you want backing up to the external drive.

Downsides to this method is if you want to backup everything, you have to copy everything each time. Or go through all your files and backup each new addition manually.

  • Built in Backup

Both Microsoft Windows and Apple OSX come with free backup programs.
For Apple OSX the program is called Time Machine. It will be in the Applications folder, or whenever you plug in an external hard drive you will be asked if you want to use Time Machine.
In Windows the program is called “Backup and Restore” Just load it up and follow the Wizard to backup all your files, and set a schedule so that it backs all your files on a weekly or daily basis.
 
Both have the advantage of only backing up changes to your system rather than backing up everything each time, which would be very time consuming.
Disadvantage is that you can’t just plug in the backup to another computer and open the files. They have to be extracted or restored which can be a slow process.
  • Synchronisation Program

These work by ensuring two folders look exactly the same. So if you add a new file to one directory, the program will make a copy in the second directory. Or if you make changes to a file it will copy the changed file over.

For Windows, one such program is Microsoft Synctoy, and for Apple OSX is Sync Two Folders

  • Imaging Program

These prgrams take a “picture” of your whole hard drive, so should anything happen to your hard drive you can make a perfect duplicate onto a new replacement Hard drive and you would not lose a thing. These are excellent tools for getting you back up and running again should you ever have a failure. Ideal for businesses where downtime costs money, and good for peice of mind at home.

Disadvantage, like the built in backups, to see the files you would need the program installed and you would have to extract the files.

Acronis True Image is our recommendation for this criteria. Very easy to use, and fast.

  • Online Backup

There are many ways to backup all your files onto a secure online server, but we will mention the more straightforward all in one, online storage and synchronisation tools. These install on your system and everything that is put in their folders is automatically backed up online. Two such programs are Dropbox and Synctoy. Both provide a free limited account which would be enough for most people if you are just using it for documents, plus they also provide larger storage facilities for pictures and music. Plus they have the added advantage of giving you access to your files from any location and any computer, tablet or phone with their secure online servers.
 
Downsides are that for large storage amounts they are costly.