Losing your phone or laptop is a crisis, but to many people losing the data is more damaging than losing the device. A phone can be replaced, but the photos and documents on the device are more valuable than money, and memories are hard to replace – unless you’ve backed up your data, of course.

March 31st is World Backup Day, an annual event that aims to spread awareness of the importance of backing up all of your personal data on all of your personal devices. Of course, it’s not good practice to only back up your files once a year, but that’s not what World Backup Day encourages. Instead, the global event aims to contribute to the developing cultural mind-set in which backups happen constantly and continuously, rather than sporadically.

A study by Acronis found that 30% of people have never backed up the data on their personal devices. This number is staggering when you consider the huge amount of devices in circulation in the current era. Almost 50% of households have four or more devices and 35% of people said that someone in their family had lost data. This lost data could include personally significant things like family photos, or business-critical documents, designs and spreadsheets.

How is data lost?

The data on our devices can be lost in a variety of ways, be that physically (a phone stolen or laptop left on a train), virtually (by accidental deletion or hacking), or environmentally (devices lost in a fire, or dropped in water). Whichever of these happens, and whether the data is of personal or professional value, it would be reassuring to know that your data is stored somewhere else, other than on the phone that you’ve just accidentally dropped into a river.  

Where to back up data

The advice from the people behind World Backup Day is to back up your devices regularly, either partially or completely, in multiple locations. Good practice, for example, would be to have your important data files in three locations: on the device, on a (preferably fire-resistant and waterproof) external hard drive, and on a cloud storage system like OneDrive or Dropbox.

An external hard drive backup has the benefit of increased levels of storage, which makes external hard drives more convenient if you want to back up your whole computer, as well as much faster. However, external hard drives come with all of the same risks as internal hard drives, wherein they can get A) lost, B) stolen, C) wet, and/or D) burned.

That’s why including cloud storage systems as part of your backup plan is becoming increasingly important, with a main benefit being that with cloud storage systems you can access your files from anywhere. 20% of internet users now back up their files with a local and cloud solution, and that proportion is increasing year-on-year.

Intentionally placed just before April Fool’s Day, for obvious reasons, World Backup Day encourages discussions on the importance of internet users backing up their own important data, but it also opens a discussion about the importance of safeguarding our increasingly digital culture – in the right way.