Spilling coffee on your laptop, a power surge during a summer storm, or plain old hard drive failure. These are just a few things that can cause your computer to crash and for you to lose access to whatever you had stored on it–photos, music, documents, and more. If this were to happen, what would you lose? Would it be "game over," or do you have a backup plan?
Having a good backup system in place is a core element in managing your digital life. (And, as much as many of us hate to admit it, almost all of us do indeed have a digital life in some fashion or another.) Fortunately, the process of making sure your important items are backed up isn't as daunting as it seems.
There are a few solutions that are readily available. One that requires almost no work at all is cloud computing. It's a fancy shmancy term for having your data synced and backed up to a computer that's located somewhere else. If you have a Gmail account, you are using "the cloud." Your emails are located on a server that Google owns, and any device you use to access your email talks to that server. Google Drive is the same thing, only with documents. Any changes you make from any device are synced on Google's cloud server. Microsoft has OneDrive, and Apple has iCloud for email, photos, documents, and other data.
However, simply owning an iPhone or MacBook doesn't guarantee that you're using the cloud. You have to turn it on in System Preferences. Likewise, if you download a Google Doc to your computer and make changes to it, it doesn't mean that the new version is necessarily stored in the cloud anymore. While there are some procedures to follow, fortunately they're not difficult once you get started.
Cloud computing aside, it's also a good idea to backup your entire computer to an external hard drive on a regular basis. Both Macs and Windows PCs have programs that can automate this function for you. You just need to purchase the hard drive. Good news: they're not that expensive, and they hold a lot of data! From your external hard drive, you can even restore your entire system should you experience a crash or buy a new computer and want everything back the way it was.
Managing your digital life is something necessary–like going to the dentist twice a year (but not as painful as getting a filling). With a few procedures in place, you can feel confident that your important documents and family photos are backed up. You'll be ready when lightning strikes!