Data, data everywhere: what to do?

Data, data everywhere: what to do?

United Kingdom

Siber Systems’s Bill Carey provides five top tips for storing your ever-expanding digital content securely, with minimal effort and outlay.

Advances in smartphone and tablet technology are turning us all into budding digital photographers, video producers and DJs: able to take a picture, shoot a movie or burn a track in an instant. The net result is that we’re creating a sea of data—one that is predicted to rise and expand dramatically. According to Gartner, there are already 329 exabytes of personal data out there today, which will swell to a colossal 4.1 zettabytes of data by 2016 (a zettabyte being more than 1 trillion gigabytes). The real challenge, of course, is managing our growing collections of photos, videos, music files and documents as well as keeping them safe.

Here Siber Systems’s Bill Carey provides five top tips for storing your ever-expanding digital content securely, with minimal effort and outlay.

1) Buy a backup hard drive
It would be a disaster to lose the enormous volumes of work, memories, and media you store digitally. And since computer crashes do happen, it’s simply prudent planning to maintain a backup copy of your data. Depending on how much you need to store, this could be on anything from a flash drive to a portable hard drive. Transcend and SanDisk are great brands for flash drives. For larger space options (say, in the range of 100GB to terabytes), Western Digital is an excellent pick.
It’s also a good idea to seek out backup/synchronization options that let you run syncs directly from a portable drive. That way, if your other hardware isn’t working, you’ll still be able to duplicate data in multiple places.

2) Take advantage of cloud storage
Using the cloud to back up data probably isn’t news to you. Using multiple clouds for storage, however, might be something you haven’t considered. Most services offer a freemium model in which users get a certain amount of storage space for free, and have to pay for more beyond that limit. So, if you take advantage of the free storage options offered by several cloud services—Amazon Cloud Drive and Windows Azure, for example—you can end up with a lot more free space. In turn, sync software that streamlines access to multiple cloud providers makes managing free online space a whole lot easier. Siber Systems’s GoodSync, for example, can perform syncs with a variety of freemium providers like Amazon S3 and Microsoft SkyDrive to provide a total of 17GB of free online storage.

3) Choose strong, varied passwords for your online content
Passwords are like underpants; don’t share them with others, and change them regularly.
Furthermore, always use different passwords for different services. If the security on one site is lacking, your login information may get compromised. And if you use that login information elsewhere, other accounts may be compromised as well. This can be particularly perilous when you consider online banking accounts and other sensitive online data. So, always choose strong passwords of at least 6 characters (the more, the better), and toss in a few capitalizations and numbers. And if it’s a struggle to remember lots of super-randomized passwords, then consider using a password manager to do the hard work for you. You can read more about password safety here:

4) Automate syncs
When you have a stacks of files, having them sync themselves can save you considerable time. If you have the option to schedule syncs or backups to your various devices, your stuff will be safe and backed up without you having to lift a finger. Some programs will sync automatically whenever you connect to the web, but others will allow scheduling of syncs. Your choice of program will be guided by how much control you want over your syncs.

5) Be careful about what you share online
There are lots of smart measures you can take to secure your files online. However, the caveat of online storage is that some of its vulnerabilities are out of your control. If an online provider doesn’t have a good password hashing protocol in place, your stuff may be susceptible to theft and distribution even if you chose a unique and strong password. So, when uploading things to the cloud, it’s wise to exercise a little caution. If a piece of data is extremely personal, you may want to store it locally.

Editor Notes:

By Bill Carey, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at password management specialist Siber Systems