Data back-up: you’re advised to do it regularly, but how often do you really back up your important files? Die-hard advocates keep multiple copies on physical drives and in cloud servers, but most of us only think about data back-up when we’re faced with the prospect of losing precious photos and documents. As time goes by, more and more of us are taking the preventative step and signing up for data back-up or sync services. Will data back-up ever rule the world? Here are some considerations which might affect your prediction. Pros In the cloud, your data follows you. Let’s say you buy an iPhone 5 and use it for a couple years. That’s a long time to collect apps and fill them with data: pictures, high scores, calendars, journal entries. But as Apple is fond of doing, the new iPhone is soon announced and you find yourself lusting after the shiny iPhone 6. What about all that important data? No problem. With Apple’s iCloud service, the vast majority of your data will be saved and synced to your new phone seamlessly—so you have no excuse not to upgrade and continue to line Apple’s already bursting pockets. How convenient! It enhances your favorite apps and programs with functionality. How many times have you decided to download a game based on whether it has GameCenter or OpenFeint? Because these services back up your game data, your progress is always a download away. You also get to brag about your high scores and compete with friends via challenges and head-to-head play. Sign in on any device—this extra functionality is possible because of online back-up service, so it pays to play in the network. Data is hosted and secured by big companies with big security budgets. Who do you trust with your most sensitive data? Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft—these are big players in the online marketplace, so they already know a lot about you, and a thing or two about online security. So it’s no surprise that each of them has a cloud-based data back-up service, from Amazon’s Cloud to Google’s Drive. It’s an easy step for most consumers to make. Of course, there are also companies who specialize in data back-up, like Carbonite and Mozy. Tech support companies partner with data back-up services to offer additional protection for their members, like iTOK.net does with Mozy. These companies spend extra resources to ensure their customers’ data is safe, so you can have peace of mind when you choose them as your data back-up partner. And with so many choices, you can opt for multiple back-ups and comparison shop for the best deal. Cons Of course, there are potential downsides to data back-up. Opponents of using a cloud-based data back-up service have two main objections, and they can be categorized as “putting all your eggs in one basket” and “the basket develops a hole.” Back-up services create a centralized point of failure. If you only use one back-up service, what happens if that service fails? If the company suddenly experiences a network failure or catastrophe, your sensitive data is on the line. It’s not difficult to imagine a horror scenario which ends with you losing important legal files or precious family memories. Putting all of your data (“eggs”) in one place is a giant leap of faith. Of course, the solution to this is to maintain multiple back-ups, such as using a physical hard drive or signing up for two or more services. Security lapses still happen to big companies. Readers hardly need to be reminded that security lapses still happen, even to big companies. The Heartbleed bug took over the news last month as many services scrambled to close their security loopholes. Retailers like Target have reported security breaches where sensitive data is exposed to cyber criminals and hackers. Of course, data back-up services are susceptible to the same kinds of attacks. To combat this, consumers have to be smart about the data they store in the cloud, and protect themselves as best they can with strong passwords and restricted account access. Beyond that, all one can really do is hope they fade into the online anonymous masses and don’t become visible targets. Data back-up may not rule the world just yet, but considering how quickly our favorite apps and services are moving to the cloud, it’s not too far fetched to imagine a future where everyone’s data is automatically synced and backed up to servers across the world. Hopefully, by the time that happens, the industry will be advanced enough to prevent potential issues and keep everyone’s data safe. Images: “Data concept: computer keyboard with word Data Backup, selected focus on enter button background, 3d render/ Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? 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