Backups are for sissies, right?

Backups are something for another time, right? Unfortunately, this viewpoint will leave you in quite a difficult situation when ‘another time’ turns out to be the downtime (system or device failure, or a system compromise) you experience due to not having a backup system in place. Just how important are backups, and how easy are they to setup? Please read on.

Did you know most computer systems and mobile devices have free backup systems already in place? Is yours enabled yet?

In the case of your mobile device, this system might be iCloud backups or Google. Many individual apps have an option to backup to these kinds of cloud storage locations. Other locations include DropBox, Amazon S3 and a host of other online storage locations. Most of these offer free storage for a decent amount of data.

For your desktop or laptop, a backup system might be OSX Timemachine, or a number of other backup and restore options available pre-installed. Whatever the case, you want a system that is easy to use and basically runs in the background. Without such a setup, you’ll only get around to being concerned with backups when it’s too late.

What might be some examples for your desktop/laptop?

  • OSX Time machine backing up your Mac each hour to an external hard disk or network location. This is a no-brainer, and if you use OSX you should set this up now. However, it’s not really enough as none of your data is being stored “offsite”.
  • Google Drive/Dropbox/One Drive. The desktop client for these services seamlessly keeps your local files backed up to a secure network location. You can access the files from your mobile device and even from another computer if needed . See, for example how to sync Google Drive and keep an entire folder backed up continuously.
  • Dedicated online backup solutions such as: www.backblaze.com (there are plenty of others to choose from as well)

What about mobile devices, how can they be easily backed up?

Have you enabled the free iCloud backups available on your phone or tablet? What about Google backups on your Android phone, or One Drive backups from your Windows phone?  If you have these enabled and your phone is stolen or broken, restoring your phone or tablet to a new device is simple.

Imagine that! Buying a new phone and having no stress at all because you know your new phone will have all your old phone’s data and settings. This is not a dream, it’s happening now for people who have automated backups enabled.
While this post is just scratching the surface, you’ll find very clear directions from the software vendors on how to set this up. For example:

How to back up your devices using iCloud or iTunes

Back up or restore data on your device

How to back up a Windows Phone: backup and restore explained

A backup that is stored on your computer or device is not a backup. A proper backup must be stored in another location. These days cloud storage makes this easy.

What are you waiting for? Set aside some time asap to get these important and most likely free services setup today.

A word of warning

Don’t let this hold you back from settings up offsite backups, but you do need to make sure the credentials you use to sign in to your backup system/Google/iCloud/Microsoft accounts are secure and protected with 2 factor authentication. That way you are assured that only someone with your password and device can login and access your files. More on 2 factor authentication and password security in another blog post.

Finally

If you need any backup advice for your own business, we are equipped to provide you a custom solution to meet your needs. Contact us for more information.
Backups are definitely not for sissies, backups are for the wise. Setup automatic backups today!

If you have any questions let us know in the comments below.

Not another update

Apple store updateYou open up your phone/tablet/computer in the morning and notice the familiar “update available” notification. Should you just put off the update to another time? Or do you worry that if you update, it may create other issues for you? Read on for the important things you should consider.

The short answer is YES, you should update asap. However, more explanation is needed due to the myths about updates floating around.

Why are updates even released?

Most updates are going to address one of two things. 1. Add new features, or 2. Patch a security issue. While you may not be that excited about new features (oh no, something else to learn), security updates are something you should be interested in. Believe me, each day I see multiple websites and users having their accounts and data compromised due to not installing security updates. Please, install your app updates asap.

What about this notion that updates slow down your computer, phone etc?

While it’s true that some updates may introduce other issues (new problems), usually they have been tested prior to release and are likely to actually provide far more benefits to you (security especially) than the risks of not installing them. As a general rule, provided you keep up with updates, you should be less likely to encounter issues such as this. Again, it’s still much more risky not installing an update.

Further to this. Both app/program developers as well as the system software vendors like Apple, Microsoft, Google and many others will not continue to support all devices indefinitely. This means that in around 3 or 4 years your device will stop receiving updates. Until this happens, you should continue to update your device.

A balanced suggestion

As a suggestion if you are reluctant or worried about updates, especially system updates, why not just wait a few days (for system updates) to see if any major issues are reported. Even if they are, usually within 24hrs a replacement update would be pushed out.

.. and finally

Provided you have a backup system in place (subject for another blog post sometime) you need not be “scared” about updates, even system updates. If the worst does happen (and it hardly ever does) you’ll be able to roll back your computer/phone to a time before the update and then install it, or the next one again.

Overwhelmed with passwords?

Do you use the same password on more than one website? If so, this is the post for you.

While many people use a strong password for their internet banking for example, they reason that using the same weak passwords on other websites is not a big deal. However, just imagine the time you would waste if this password was stolen from a website you used it on. If this happened now, you would need to change your password on almost every site you use.

Not only that, potentially your personal information could also have been stolen and could be used by unscrupulous individuals to impersonate you, perhaps even attempting to borrow money in your name..a serious issue!

What is the solution?

You need a password manager. In fact I’d go so far as to say if you don’t use one you are making a big mistake. The one we recommend is LastPass, screenshots below:

How does a password manager work?

Using a password manager you can effectively use a unique password for each website you use. These unique passwords can be totally random and you won’t need to even remember them, the password manager will store them securely for you. What’s more LastPass will fill in the username and passwords for you when visiting a website you have a password stored for. This can be done on any device or computer you use.

Using LastPass is free, and to sync across multiple devices ( have access to your passwords from your computers and mobile devices ) only costs $1 a month.

It’s not a question of should you use a password manager, but rather a question of when. Take the time now to set one up. It will only take you a few minutes to secure your digital life and make managing your passwords easy. Doing this will make things easier, safer and faster for you in the end.

Please watch these videos: https://lastpass.com/support_screencasts.php and get LastPass installed asap.

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Please leave your questions and comments below.