This very informative article from Cloudwards.net, a leading cloud storage company, will help you understand cybercrime in 2017. The article includes some examples of some more noteworthy security breaches and hacking events and details how you can use cloud storage to keep your files secure.
70 Million smartphones are lost each year, and over 3 million are stolen. And smartphones can be hacked and infected as well.
Family photos and videos, important documents (work related and personal), large music collections, saved emails, and other files could be lost forever.
Data recovery may be possible in some cases, but depending on the problem the cost can run between $100 and $2000. And in some cases, there’s no way to recover your data.
THE BACKUP RULE OF THREE
Here’s the rule of three (or the Backup 3-2-1 rule).
♦ 3 different copies (or more) of your files.
♦ 2 different backup formats. External drive + Cloud Storage, or DVD + SD card, or USB Flash drive + email account.
♦ 1 Backup in a different location.
A COMPLETE BACKUP SOLUTION
For some people, setting up a complete backup seems confusing or too time consuming, which is where my complete backup solution comes in.
♦ A 1TB external USB hard drive is included for local backups.
♦ I will configure your computer(s) for daily backups of your important files. In the event that you don’t have the drive connected and you miss a backup (or several), it will “catch up” whenever it is reconnected.
♦ I set up a free cloud backup solution for photos & videos. The 3 I use most often are Google Photos, Flickr, and Amazon Photos (Amazon Prime membership required).
♦ Your smartphone will also be set up for the photo and video cloud solution. This can be set up on additional smartphones and tablets as well.
♦ I will burn a BLU-Ray of your files (50GB included) . This is your “master copy”. You can think of this as the equivalent of photo negatives back in the old days. Additional copies $10 each. These copies are good for storing offsite because they are small and light.
This leaves you with a local copy that you can access quickly, a master copy stored offsite, and a cloud solution for photos and videos that merges all the photos from any desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones into one online account for easy viewing and sharing. All the back ups will run automatically on a regular basis, so there’s nothing to worry about.
Package cost = $200
Broken down over a year, that’s 55 cents a day for a complete backup solution that will go on for years.
If you have any questions or want to schedule a time to get backed up, please contact me.
If you are an Amazon prime member, in addition to free two day shipping, there are a host of benefits, including free unlimited photo storage.
If you’ve seen my post about Google Photos, you know they also offer free unlimited photo andvideo storage, but they reduce the quality slightly.
Amazon lets you save your photos and videos at full resolution, with an unlimited number of photos (and even supports RAW file formats), but only gives 5 GB for video and other file storage. Users with large video collections are probably better off using Google Photos, but if you are already an Amazon Prime member and only need to back up photos, this is a great option.
You can easily share your photos using a shareable link, or you can share by email, Facebook, or Twitter.
After installing the software, log in to your Amazon prime account.
The program automatically selects the most used folders and checks them off. If there are folders selected that you’d rather not back up, just uncheck them.
I selected “Choose Files” under the blue Upload Folders button, because I had files and folders in a different place that I wanted to include in the backup.
Pressing the “Select Folder” button allowed me to backup files on my external and network drives.
As you can see, I have a whopping 544, 363 files to back up, totaling 1.94 TB, The Amazon photos app will continue to run in the background, uploading all the time until it catches up. It’s going to take a long time, but I sleep better at night knowing everything is backed up in multiple locations.
Do you take lots of photos, but have no idea how to organize and back them up? I had the same problem. I have an Android phone and my wife had an iPhone, plus we had a Samsung Android tablet and and iPad. Not to mention the years of photos we had taken and scanned- terabytes of photos- that were scattered on desktops, laptops and external hard drives. There was no easy way for us to backup and access all the photos from all our various devices. And the thought of possibly losing them someday due to a broken hard drive or a natural disaster was terrifying.
Google has a complete photo management system that solved the problem for us. It’s easy to use and free. It also offers an unlimited amount of storage, although the file size and is slightly reduced (about 40% or so). The reduction in size does reduce the quality of the photos, but if this is only a backup and not your only copy of the photos it won’t matter much.
For smartphone users, the Google Photos app is very easy to install, and works equally well for both Android and iPhone. Install the app, and associate it with a Gmail account (or open a new one for free). If you’re an iPhone user, Google will automatically back up all the photos in your Camera Roll, and all the new photos you take whenever you are in wifi range. Android users will also be able to select any number or all of their folders containing photos.
With the desktop app, your Desktop, My Pictures, My Documents and My Videos folders (and subfolders) are selected by default. You can add as many additional folders as you’d like. In this example I have added two folders from my mapped P drive that has all my photos on it.
If you have a large number of photos on your computer, the desktop loader may take days or even weeks to get them all uploaded.
The Google Photos Desktop App will continue to run in the background until it catches up, and then it will automatically add new photos as you save them.
In my case, I selected some very large folders and have over 46,000 pending, so it’s bound to take a while.
By logging in to the same account on the app on all your devices- Android phones, iPhones, iPads, Android tablets, Mac computers, Windows computers- the photos and videos from all those devices are all in one place.
For example, I created a new google account just for my family, installed the app on both my wife’s phone and mine, and then installed the desktop app. She can now log in from work and see photos I have taken while I am home with the kids during the day. And we can both access all those years of old photos that we took with our various digital cameras, as well as all the photos and documents I’ve scanned. Everything backed up in one place, for free.
While it certainly isn’t a full-featured editing app, the editor features a basic set of tools for enhancing your photos. Perfect for a quick correction before you post something online.
Using the autofix feature, I did a quick edit of this underexposed picture of my house.
Changes you make when editing are applied to the version of the image that’s stored on Google Photos in the cloud, while the original on your device remains untouched.
Sharing the files is simple and easy.
Just select the file or files you want to share, click on the share icon, and choose how you want to share it. If you want to select a bunch in a row, you don’t have to do them one at a time. Choose the first one, then drag your finger to the last one and Google Photos selects them all.
The Assistant feature in Google Photos is truly amazing. The app chooses certain photos and works some magic with them. In some cases, it may stylize them (think Instagram filter), or add a frame. If photos are similar, the assistant may group them together into a collage. Panoramas will be created by stitching together individual shots if they line up correctly. And if you have pictures taken close enough together in time, the Assistant will throw them all together into an animated GIF file. You can save any of these creations right to your account, or delete them with a swipe of your finger.
The search feature gives you several options to find your photos and videos.
If your photos have names, or are in folders with names, those names are searchable. But Google Photos goes further by using an algorithm to identify things in your pictures even if they aren’t named. A search for “cat” brought up hundreds of photos of both our current cat and our two previous cats.
Google Photos also gives you the option of searching by category. Here you can see it has displayed faces of some people it found in my photos. Clicking on a face shows all the other matching faces, and you can easily assign a name to any face you choose.
The places category is based on location data in the photos themselves. If you don’t have location data turned on, Google will still try to figure out where a photo is taken and put it in your places file. Somewhere like Cinderella’s Castle at DisneyWorld is going to be easy for the system to identify, for example.
The “things” category is a sort of hodgepodge, and isn’t totally accurate, but can be helpful if you only want photos with the Christmas ornaments, for example, and don’t want to sort through every picture you’ve ever taken at Christmas to find them.
At the bottom you can search your videos, as well as recently added photos, your Google Drive, and any of the creations you have saved with the Assistant feature.
I’m very familiar with the delete feature, because I often take photos in burst mode and end up putting the phone back in my pocket before the lock goes on my phone, resulting in dozens of dark blue and black photos.
Deleted photos can be recovered for 30 days, then they are gone forever. You can also go into your trash and permanently delete them whenever you’d like.
Google Photos does all of that and more, and will probably continue to add more features over time. If you only need to back up photos and videos, this may be the solution for you.
Flickr has revamped their website and smartphone app and is now offering 1TB of free photo storage for every user. That’s 1,000 GB! You could fit 1 million photos into that much space and still have room to spare.
You need to have a Yahoo account to sign up, but they’re free and easy enough to create if you don’t have one.
You can upload through the web, but I suggest downloading the Flickr Uploadr
At this point, if you don’t have a Yahoo! ID, you need to create one.
It took me about 1 minute to create my yahoo account and sign in to the Flickr service.
Once I logged in, I was greeted with a status screen letting me know how much of my free 1 Terabyte of storage I had remaining. In this case, I haven’t uploaded anything yet so I have the full amount.
Flickr gives you some default locations where you may or may not have photos so you can just check them off. I keep all my files on a drive on my network, so I won’t be using any of these defaults, but most people will check off the Pictures folder and possibly some or all of the others.
If you keep photos somewhere else or want to include other locations in addition to the defaults, click the + sign at the bottom left and navigate to the folder you’d like to add.
At this point, the Flickr Uploadr app will scan the folders and subfolders to make a list of all your files prior to uploading. In my case, it was over 250,000 photos so it took several hours before the uploading actually started.
Now I can sit back and wait while my photos and videos are backed up online for free.
Have you backed up your data recently? Every day people and businesses lose huge amounts of
valuable data because they fail to run a backup of their files. World Backup Day is set aside
as a reminder to back up those important files.
If you have files that are important to you and can’t be easily replaced or recreated, you should have some sort of regularly scheduled backup. Hard drives can crash. Computers can be infected with malware and viruses. And your smartphone can be damaged, lost or stolen. Losing irreplaceable and valuable documents or photos with no way to recover them is a nightmare scenario.
No matter how new or secure your smartphone or computer is, it’s important to back up your
files, because even new hardware can fail. Some polls have shown that almost 40% of people
don’t have any type of backup at all, and another 15% only backup 1-2 times a year.
Malware and viruses infect roughly 1/3 of the world’s computers. There’s a whole class of viruses that will lock your files and hold them for ransom. In most cases, even paying the
ransom won’t get your files back. If you have a current backup, you can completely wipe your
computer’s hard drive to rid it of the virus and restore your files from your backup copy.
The hard drive on your computer can also fail or crash. In those cases you may be able to recover the files by sending them to a professional data recovery lab, but that type of service is expensive. Depending on the exact problem, the cost could be anywhere from $300- $2000 and you may not even get back 100% of the data.
Any natural disaster that strikes your home or business can damage or destroy your computer and with it, your files. Fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes can eradicate your data permanently with no chance of recovery.
Computers can be stolen, whether they are laptops, desktops, or even servers. Your data may or may not be valuable depending on who the thief is. In many cases, they wipe the hard drives to conceal who the original owner is before they sell the computer, so even if you can recover the system, your files may be gone.
More than 3 million smartphones were stolen last year- that’s more than 100 smartphones stolen every minute, each day. Another 1.4 million phones are lost every year and never recovered. Smartphones are prime targets for thieves because even more so than computers, smartphones hold loads of personal information like banking and credit card info, photos, emails, and even your whereabouts thanks to GPS location. The thief may be after your
identity or financial information and not your documents or photos, but you’re going to lose them regardless of the motive. Phones are also small and easy to conceal in a pocket or handbag, and they have a high resale value. And the first thing they will do is wipe it clean of all traces of your files.
There are dozens of other things that can happen to your files. A regularly scheduled backup
gives you peace of mind in those situations. There are several methods you can use to backup your files.
If you’re backing up a computer and have a relatively small amount of data, you can use a USB flash drive. If you have larger amounts of data you probably want to use an external hard drive. External drives are portable so they can be thrown in a laptop bag or backpack. They also allow quick access to all your files at once. There are downsides to external drives though. The drives are affected by all the same things computers are- they can be lost, stolen, damaged by natural disasters, get infected by malware and viruses and they can have mechanical failures. If your data is very valuable you should use more than one external hard drive.
Cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive/Google Photos are popular for both smartphone and computer backups. They give you a small amount of space for free, and can be
accessed from anywhere on any device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, PC, MAC). The problem is, one glitch and your files are gone, because there’s only one copy of your files there. If you accidentally delete a file, that deletion gets synced up to the cloud and there’s no way to get it back.
If you have an iPhone, you can back it up right to your computer using iTunes. This is nice because you only get 5 GB of space in iCloud so all your files may not fit there. Your computer probably has a ton of free space, and an iTunes backup is a complete backup of all your photos, videos, music, documents, SMS messages, call logs, contacts and apps. If you ever lose your iPhone or upgrade, just plug the replacement into your computer, open iTunes and you can restore your entire configuration from your last backup.
A Cloud Backup Service is different because it offers the ability to keep multiple versions
of your files, so if Tuesday’s backup is corrupted or encrypted from a virus infection, or
deleted by mistake, you can get the files back from Monday’s backup. You do have to pay for a
backup service like that, but if the data is important or irreplaceable, it’s well worth the
cost. If you have a large number of files to back up, you’ll find cloud backups are slower than backing up to an external hard drive. And if you ever need to retrieve a large number of files it may take hours or even days to pull them down from the cloud.
A sound backup solution would combine all these methods.
The accepted rule for backup best practices is the three-two-one rule. It can be summarized as: if you’re backing something up, you should have:
At least three copies,
In two different formats,
with one of those copies off-site.
I have multiple external hard drives for my most important files, which happen to be photos. These are backed up daily. Everything is also backed up to the cloud via Google+ Photos and Amazon’s Prime storage service. I also burn Blu-Ray discs so I always have a “negative” that can’t be deleted, and store a copy of these with a relative. Both my smartphone and my wife’s smartphone are set to automatically backup to Google and Amazon whenever we have WiFi access.
Whatever method you choose, please be sure you backup your files. If you’re overwhelmed and you don’t know where to start, I’ll be happy to help you out.
Infinit – This very useful little app lets you “send any file in less than 4 seconds”.
Simply create links to your files that can be shared anywhere on the web- Facebook, Twitter, via email, SMS messages or online forums.
You’ll have a dedicated inft.ly webpage for your files and you can grant access to anyone you choose. Infinit uses P2P Bitorrent technology so your files are not stored on a server where they can be accessed by any unauthorized users (like the recent celebrity icloud hack).
If you enjoy taking photos with your smartphone, you have probably run into problems backing them up or transferring them to your computer. Whether you have an Android or an iPhone (or really any smartphone for that matter), Google+ can solve some of these problems for you.
Every Google+ account allows you 15GB of free cloud storage, which is shared between your email (gmail), Google Drive files and your Google photos. If you create a new gmail account and use it for only photo backups, the entire 15GB can be dedicated to your photo storage.
Storing your photos on Google+ also makes them much easier to share with other people. Photos are put into albums by date, and all the albums are private by default. Once your photos are uploaded, you can view them from any web browser or by opening the Google+ app on your Android or iPhone. (Select Home in the upper left, then Photos to view your photos.)
You can choose to set your phone to backup over Wi-Fi or over mobile networks. Most people choose to upload photos over Wi-Fi, since that’s available at the office, home or on the road and doesn’t count towards your phone’s data plan. Your mobile network is a good choice if you are on the road for work or on vacation and want to be sure the photos back up before you get home.
The Android and IOS Google+ apps offer slightly different backup features. Both will store an unlimited number of photos, reduced to a maximum side length of 2048 pixels. Android users have the option to store full versions of their photos, but keep in mind that takes up more of your 15GB free cloud space.
The Android app can be set to upload only when the device is plugged in and charging, which can help save battery life if you have a large number of photos to upload.
Best of all, more than one device can use the same account. I was using Google + to back up my photos from my Samsung S4 (Android), but my wife’s photos from her iPhone 5 used the Icloud app and went to an entirely different place. So i created a new “family” Google account, and logged into it with both phones. Now all our photos are automatically backed up whenever we are near a Wi-Fi hotspot to one cloud location. You can also upload photos to the account from any computer, so photos taken with all your various cameras can be in one place.
I am home with our two boys all day, so I filled up the 15GB quickly, but for $2.99 a month I upgraded to a 100GB plan. It’s a simple way to back up photos from multiple devices to one account and both of us can access the account from any web browser to view or share the photos.
Why do some hard drives crash and others seem to run forever? Most of the time you probably replace a computer before your hard drive stops working, but if you let them run long enough every hard drive will crash, fail or die.
There are 3 types of hard drive failure you have to concerned about.
First, there’s a physical problem with the drive. The most common things that fail are the PCB board, or the chips or power connector on the board, but there are dozens of moving parts in a typical IDE or SATA hard drive and they can all fail. I explain this kind of failure in more detail here. Symptoms vary. If there’s certain physical damage you may hear a loud clicking noise. Sometimes if the heads are stuck on the platter you’ll hear more of a buzzing or beeping noise. Or if the power connector is damaged, you may hear nothing- no spinning, no whirring- and the drive may not be seen by Windows at all.
Your hard drive can also crash if it has too many bad sectors. Sectors are small clusters of storage space that hold your data. When a sector goes bad, software on the drive is supposed to try to move the data to a good sector, and mark the bad one so it never gets written to again. In some cases, sectors can become so damaged that the computer can have trouble reading the data, lock up, refuse to boot or crash.
in this example, the hard drive shows problems with the reallocated sectors count, the current pending sectors count and the uncomfortable sectors count. Each variable has exceeded the allowable threshold, so the data on this drive needs to be backed up right away.
The second possibility is called logical failure. This is not a problem with the physical drive itself but with the file system on the drive. Imagine your hard drive is a library, and the files on it are books. Your computer has its own version of a card catalog to find the books, called a File Allocation Table, or FAT. If the FAT is corrupted, Windows can’t find the files it needs to run Windows, and you will be unable to boot. This can be caused from a virus infection, system driver conflicts, damaged Windows files and other software issues. In most cases I can perform a data recovery if this is your problem. I can back your files up to a good hard drive or flash drive, wipe your drive and reload windows with a new FAT. Then I can transfer your files back over to your new Windows installation. I can backup any user created files (photos, documents, music, videos, etc) but not your programs – I would need the software and licensing information or serial numbers to reload your software.
External hard drives are susceptible to physical and logical issues as well, but they also have a potential problem that doesn’t exist in internal hard drives. External drives are really just an internal hard drive in a fancy enclosure so you can connect them with a cable and move them around from place to place. The enclosure has its own power supply and data connector and sometimes these die or break after dropping the drive. In that case, the hard drive itself may work perfectly and the enclosure itself may be the issue.
With all ways your hard drive can fail, this is a good time to remind you, please keep an updated backup of your files. Spending $100 on an external hard drive or a cloud backup service can save $1000 in data recovery fees, so backup, backup and then backup again.