Should I Encrypt My Data ?
Surfing the internet, sending emails and messages creates vast amounts of data in the form of pictures, emails, chats, documents, recordings, and videos. Keeping it all safe and accessible is not difficult but it does take some forethought.
Keeping multiple copies of your files on different hard drives will protect you from drive failure but there are a few other things to consider.
What data to back up
Your most important files and favourite pictures could be los forever t if your devices are damaged or lost, so it is recommended that you back up your data on your devices regularly, either on external drives (such as hard drives, SSD, or USB sticks) or in cloud storage.
Of corse your work files should also be backed up, but that is quite likely not your responsibility. Your work data belongs to your employer, and ideally the company has a policy in place on how to handle backups.
Back up your chat app messages
Using messaging service apps rather than emails to communicate with friends and even for work is now the number one choice for most people,
It is important to back up our chat history as so many images and information is held on there platforms. Chat platforms like Telegram will automatically back up your data in their custom cloud, while Whatsapp and give you some choice in how and when to back up your data, but ultimately leave the responsibility to you.
Back up your social media
Although your personal pictures and chats in Facebook and Twitter might be accessible for now, keep in mind that any online platform can change storage capacity rules or terminate your account or change how you access certain parts of it.
With many online platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, users can download their past posts and uploads. If you want to guarantee your data is safe downloading everything is the best way to back them up.
Where to back up your data
There are plenty of ways to store your data. The medium and location of the backup does matter, as does who has access to this data, and how you allow access.
The most common types of external drives are USB stick, SSD, and hard drive; which one you use depends on your storage size requirements and the frequency of the backup. A small SSD, for example, can be used to quickly back up your most important data. If you have a large amount of data that needs to be backed up and doesn’t require frequent updates, a slower, cheaper hard drive will suffice. Whatever hardware you choose for your backup, it should be kept in a separate place from the computer where the data originates.
Finding totally secure places for your hard drives may be difficult if you don’t have much of your own space. Hard drives can also fail or be stolen. And if the data you hold needs to be accessible by multiple individuals, external disks can be a nuisance.
Cloud storage providers make it easy for you to back up your data, share it with others and keep it synced across devices, but there are also significant privacy caveats: Your cloud provider will have access to all your data, they can lock you out of your account at will, alter and inspect your data, and pass it along to third parties.
Encrypt your data
No matter where you back up your files, you may want to also encrypt them. This adds an additional layer of protection to your data. If you encrypt your files, it would suffice to store them in less secure places. For example, if you choose a popular cloud-storage provider but only back up encrypted files, you do not have to worry about their contents being read, analysed, and passed on. With encrypted data, you also would not have to worry about your external hard drive falling into the wrong hands.
For your external hard drive, SSD, or USB stick, full-disk encryption is a popular option. With encryption software you can create fully encrypted external drives. When plugging them in, you unlock them with the encryption key and update your files in a virtual container—a single encrypted file that contains all your data.
Creating such a container can also be an option when making backups in the cloud, and it works best if the content of the container doesn’t change. If a single change is made to a file in a container, the entire container will have to be backed up again. Therefore, for data that changes frequently, you are better off encrypting the files individually.
You can use “pretty good privacy” (PGP) to encrypt files individually. You can also use this feature to encrypt files for multiple at once, and to sign your files to allow others (and yourself) to authenticate them.
To use PGP, you use software to generate a public-private keypair for yourself, then encrypt each file that you want to back up. Only those with the private key can decrypt the files. This can also offer a convenient option to securely synchronise data between devices.
Encrypted cloud storage
Some cloud storage providers promise to encrypt your data on your computer, then only store the encrypted data on their servers. While this is a viable option in theory you won’t know the exact level of encryption, or how this process works. You are much better off managing the encryption yourself.
A good and comprehensive solution to backing up your data will take into account all the benefits and weaknesses of the above options, so piece them together in your own way, depending on your circumstances, that is private, secure, and robust.
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