University of Wisconsin–Madison

Back up your data strategically

Your laptop goes missing. Your smartphone gets smashed. Your primary computer’s drive crashes. Any of these would make for a bad day, but all of them would be made worse if you didn’t have a back up of your data. Broadly speaking, when it comes to back ups you have two options; backing up to an external drive, or backing up to the cloud. Several options are available to you on campus.

1. Your Box account provides you with 50 Gb of online storage that you can use not only for backing up your files, but also for sharing them with collaborators easily.

2. Bucky Backup is a fully supported, integrated backup solution for your files and important data. It is the ideal solution for faculty, staff, departments and researchers and currently offers two levels of service:

  • Bucky Backup Lite for backing up files, computers, applications and departmental servers.
  • Bucky Backup Enterprise for mission critical data like a campus-wide service application.

3. If you’re looking for a cloud service to store and back up your personal photos, videos, class projects, papers, and other important documents, UW-Madison faculty, staff and students receive significant discounts on CrashPlan.

4. You can purchase removable storage devices such as USB drives and external hard drives at the Tech Store, and back up to it with any of a variety of tools; for Mac OS Time Machine is an easy option, and for Windows, Back Up and Restore. Linux users have quite a few options, too.

Any of those options would be a good start if you’re not already backing up your data. However, you can also use them in combination very effectively.

1. Using an external drive, create a system image. This will allow you to recover from catastrophes like a drive crash, or a malware infection, assuming your back up itself is not infected.

2. Use a back up tool to back up important files and folders, such as your documents, images, videos, music, etc.

3. Backup your most important files to an on-line backup tool like Box, Crash Plan or Bucky backup.

Now that your files are safely backed up, you might be tempted to delete them from your PC. Don’t do it, unless you really don’t need that file any longer. Your files are at risk if they don’t exist in at least two places. For anything you really care about, the rule of thumb is to have 3 copies, on 2 different media, with 1 in a remote location.