You never think it will happen to you. And when it does happen, it happens when you least expect it. Shocked, dismayed and cursing yourself for not doing something to prevent it, your only backup is chocolate and more chocolate to rebuild what you have lost.

On a rainy Monday morning as I was ready to head out the door, I went to my computer, logged on – only to see no response. My computer was at a standstill. I couldn’t access any of my documents, send an email or write a story.

And to make matters worse, I had three stories on my computer I needed to meet a deadline plus another assignment that was due the next day.

So while I took my computer to be fixed, I was a little stressed rewriting stories to meet the deadline.

If you are anything like me, my computer is my lifeline. I need my computer to complete assignments, answer emails, and many other tasks. Without my computer I felt at a complete lost, time ticking away as I frantically recreated what I had already wrote on another computer while mine was in the shop.

When I told a colleague about my dilemma, first question I was asked – didn’t you back it up? And I was told I should have known better. After all, it wasn’t the first time I have ever lost a document.

There are two easy ways to store your data – on an external hard drive or with a cloud storage service. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.

Why you need a back-up to save your data - Website Design and Video Production in OregonLet’s start with the basics – what is the cloud and what is an external hard drive?

Since the 1990s, people have been storing their data in the cloud, which allows you to upload your files to the cloud or an off site server. You can access and edit your data whenever and wherever you need to. An external hard drive is an external unit that you can plug into your computer or another computer that holds all your information – like a safe.

People often ask how often they should backup their data. If you have downloaded photographs of your daughter’s wedding, your mom’s 70th birthday or a video of your son’s championship game onto your computer, it’s a good idea to put it on a backup device immediately. While you can recreate a resume or a business plan, you can’t recreate precious memories.

For files on your computer, it’s a good idea to set a reminder to back up those files every couple of weeks. For example, if you do invoicing for your business, back it up on a weekly basis – it’s easier to recreate a week’s worth of work rather than a couple months.

Here are a couple questions to consider when deciding whether to go with an external hard drive or the cloud:

    1. Consider the cost. Whether you are backing up data for your home or your business, you need to consider the cost. External hard drives are less expensive – especially since you only have to pay for a one-time cost when you purchase an external hard drive. With a cloud account, you have a recurring subscription and bandwidth-usage fees.
    2. How easy is it to share information? If you took 1,000 photographs at your Aunt Molly’s wedding, you can download them to the cloud and share the photographs compared to putting it on a hard drive and passing around the hard drive. The advantage or disadvantage of downloading documents to the cloud is that it could be slower than accessing your hard drive – it all depends on the speed of your internet. than it would if you put it on an external hard drive. The same goes with documents.
    3. Accessing data – If you download a document to the cloud, you can access it anywhere, anytime, with any device. Let’s say you wrote a business plan, printed it out and left for the meeting. You get to the meeting and realize you forgot to bring the document. If you saved your document to the cloud, it’s easy to get. If you did to an external hard drive, it’s at home with your printed document.
    4. The trust factor – With an external drive, you have complete control over who sees your documents and you have it within your site. With the cloud, when you allow others to access your documents, you lose control of that.


While there are pros and cons to both the cloud and an external hard drive, only you can decide which system best fits your business needs. One thing both do and that everyone can agree on – is save you from losing your documents or photographs. And causing you to eat lots of chocolate as you rewrite or recreate what your lost.



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