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Are you backing up your important computer files at home?

Ransomware, malware and even a hard drive failure can strike a desktop or laptop PC at any time - and without backups you could lose photos, financial documents and other essential digital files forever.

A great way to make sure you have a good backup plan, is to follow the 3-2-1 rule.

The 3 is for 3 different copies of your files, saved in 3 different drives or locations. One copy would be on the device you are using, and the other 2 would be backups on other drives.

The 2 is for using 2 different types of storage, including flash drives, disc burners, external hard drives, and cloud storage.

The 1 is for at least one copy to be backed up off-site, meaning away from your home or office. This is to ensure you have a copy, in case of a fire, flood or even a very thorough burglar.

Flash drives are cheap and easy to use, but they have some drawbacks. It may take multiple thumb drives to store all of the data you want to back up, and they are small and can be easy to misplace.

Burning your files to a disc for safe keeping is another way to back up data. This can be time-consuming, and many computers are no longer coming with built-in disc readers, so you may need to purchase a disc burner to both copy and access your files.

External hard drives offer more storage options and the ability to schedule regular backups. Apple and Windows users can schedule what to back up and how often a backup should run. This process runs without you having to think about it and external drives are affordable to purchase.

Cloud storage is another safe option. This allows you to back up your files to online servers that can be accessed at anytime with an Internet connection. These files are encrypted and stored on multiple computers, so if something happens to one there are still copies available.

Cloud storage is the easiest way to fulfill the “one off-site copy” part of the 3-2-1 rule, since you don’t need to physically transport anything. Cloud storage is managed by various businesses, so you’ll need to pay an annual fee for these services. With cloud storage, it’s important to pick a provider that has a solid reputation and meets your needs.

So take the time to identify which files are most important to you, research the type of storage that best meets your needs, and then start making backups before it’s too late.

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