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by Phil Ball

Q. What's the best media to use to backup files and photos?

A. Backing up your precious photos and data is a very good idea. If you only have your data stored on your computer, you risk catastrophic loss when your computer's hard drive breaks down, taking your precious data with it. That is why it is important to have one or more copies of important data and photos to avoid such loss. There are several media that are appropriate for this. You can use another hard drive, optical disks such as CDs or DVDs, flash drives such as USB thumb drives, or cloud storage. None of these are absolutely safe so I prefer to use various combinations.

Optical disks such as CDs or DVDs are rapidly becoming outdated. Many new computers are not equipped with a drive that can play them. With no way to play them, backups on disks are of little use.

A second hard drive on your desktop computer or an external hard drive that plugs into your USB connection has the same risk as your main hard drive. However, they offer large capacity at a lower price. My external hard drive is my first line of defense for daily use but I don't trust it to be my only defense.

USB drives are my secondary backup method. They are relatively safe and reliable but they too can fail. They have a limit to the number of times you can add or subtract information to them. I offset that by using them on a monthly basis for copying my photos and data to minimize frequency of use. I have a number of these thumb drives that I use frequently but I also buy new ones frequently to duplicate my backups.

Cloud storage is the newest method where you upload your data to an internet storage place. Many people like this method but I don't trust it because I hear reports almost daily of major companies being hacked into. Since I cannot trust them to safeguard my precious photos, I put my trust into many small thumb drives that remain in my control.

Published: Courier 12/21/14 - Page 13A