Backing Up Your Data

Backing Up Your Data

What is a data backup?

Backing up data is the process of copying files and folders to a separate secure location for the purpose of restoring them in case of data loss. Losing data is harmful to both individuals and companies as it may result in months’ or years’ worth of work if the information is destroyed and otherwise unrecoverable. Within the last few years, data loss has become a huge issue because of the rise of ransomware, a dangerous malware capable of encrypting a user’s data so that the data cannot be recovered unless a "ransom" is paid to the attacker.


Why should I back up my computer?

Backing up a computer allows the recovery of data that has been lost due to an incident such as a ransomware attack or even physical destruction. Backups are fast, simple, and relatively low cost making it easy for everyone to do it on a regular basis. The amount of time put into backing up a system is well worth the cost of recovering files from data loss or paying a ransom.


What are some ways to lose data?

1. Ransomware is a malicious attack that is responsible for encrypting a user’s files. The files cannot be recovered unless a fine is paid to the attacker. Backing up your data will make it possible to recover your encrypted files after restoring your system to factory settings. Read more about ransomware at

2. Physical destruction is a common cause of data loss…Even if your device is destroyed, your data will be safe as long as you backed up your files.

3. Theft can also lead to data loss. This is the result of when someone steals your laptop, tablet, or phone and you no longer have access to your data. 

4. Hard drive failure occurs when your system’s hard drive crashes/dies and fails to provide the user with their data. This can result from worn out parts and internal damage. The average duration of a hard drive is 5 years.


How do I back up my data at home?

There are several different methods to back up your data. Choose one that feels most convenient to you.

1. An external hard drive is an easy-to-use, cost effective option limited only by the amount of data it can store. An external hard drive plugs into your computer so that you copy over any important files that you want to back up directly to the hard drive. (Do not leave it plugged into the computer after backing up to it because it could also be encrypted by the same ransomware that encrypted your files on your internal hard drive.) Keep your hard drive in a place that you will remember and is safe from physical threat, such as a locked drawer near your computer.

2. The cloud is a more recent method of backing up data that is free for a limited amount of data. Popular cloud software includes Google Drive and Dropbox. This method is also convenient because it is not a physical device, but an application that can be accessed from any of your devices. Note: if you are a student of RIT, you automatically have access to a Google Drive account that stores an unlimited amount of data.

3. A Network Attached Storage device shares features from both an external hard drive and the cloud. It is a device that connects to your network and stores your data without having to plug it into your computer. You can also configure the settings to do automatic backups.

4. Time Machine for Mac users is designed to be simple and convenient for personal automatic backups. This program requires an external hard drive as a source for the backups. The Time Machine application runs with a simple user interface designed by Apple making it fast and easy to restore any lost data.


What if I am an employee of RIT?

Backup options vary at RIT. Check with ITS or your department to determine which method of backup is appropriate for your RIT device.

One common method of backing up data on RIT-owned Windows desktop computers within the F&A department is the “FAST User Backup” application that backs up all files to the “share” drive with a simple two-click system.

We recommend users save their RIT work on a network share rather than storing all of your data locally. This adds an extra layer of security to your data due to your backups being stored in more than one place: locally and on the share.


How often should I conduct a data backup?

We recommend backing up at a minimum of once a month. How often you back up your data depends on the type of work that you are doing and at what rate. How much data can you afford to lose?


Important notice on backups

Backing up your files is only one part of making sure that your data is safe. Restoring that data is equally important. Confirm that your backups are working and your data is safe by conducting a restore.