There’s no doubt that technological innovation has made it much easier for us to go about our day-to-day lives. Need to snap a picture? Pull out your phone. Need to view and modify your calendar? Pull out your phone. Need to share anything with anyone? Pull out your phone. Or computer. Or tablet.
With all of this innovation, surely there must be some centralized location where all your documents, media, and the like are stored, right?
In today’s blog post, we’ll explore the various places your data can be. Some have been around since before the personal computer existed, some cropping up in just the last 10 years. From your hard drive to the cloud, where is everything really? Read on to find out.
This refers to physical media that you likely have at your house, the office, in a carrying case, in your pocket, or tucked away in a box somewhere. The key thing to remember is that this information is hosted locally. If one of your devices gets fried, then that data could be gone forever, unless you have a backup.
You know the device you’re using right now to read this? It has it’s own capacity to store documents and media. By default, most devices with internal storage save whatever it is your working on into its own file directory. This will look different depending on the device you’re using; e.g. Finder on the Mac, My Documents on a PC, the Photos app on the iPhone/iPad, etc.
These are external storage devices that can be inserted into your computer and then removed easily once you’re done with them. Any sorts of data can be written to these devices, although most use them for media and backups. The most common removable media are external hard drives, SD cards (usually from digital cameras), USB thumb drives, and CDs/DVDs.
Network-Attached Storage (NAS)
A wireless version of removable media, NAS is typically connected to a home or office network to offer extended storage. Although this could be seen as “cloud-based” technology, as you’re accessing the information wirelessly, it is not- as the source of the data is still local.
Clouds, Servers, & Websites
These include anything that are not usually localized hardware. Some of the following items always require an internet connection to access, whereas some only need internet temporarily to update the localized version of the document.
This is when you have a destination whose true location is in a managed, remotely-located server, but typically appears on your computer like any other folder (and as dedicated apps on mobile devices). Some of these services include Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and iCloud. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that these are backup solutions- they aren’t. They are merely mirroring what the user is doing on their device. If you delete a cloud-based folder, it will be deleted from your computers and apps. Some services allow you to retrieve something you recently deleted (Dropbox), whereas some don’t (Google Drive).
Cloud-based storage is but one variation of a server. Usually located remotely, they give one or more users a dedicated computer to run specialized software, have a unified place to store data, and can be locked down and managed with special security measures to ensure business-sensitive items are safe.
You know those photos you uploaded to Facebook four years ago? They’re still there, far back on your timeline, unless you’ve manually deleted them. That goes for many other web-based services as well, from social media storing media you’ve uploaded, to e-commerce websites storing your credit card information, to file uploading services.
Back It Up!
Needless to say, all of your most important information should be backed up somewhere, as any number of things could make your primary storage medium cease working. Some examples of such things are liquid damage, dropping the device, leaving the device out in extreme temperatures, or just plain old wear-and-tear over the lifespan of the device.
On Mac’s, backing up involves the use of the built-in Time Machine software, which backs up your data to local hardware. There are also cloud-based backup systems, such as BackBlaze and CrashPlan, which exist for both Macs and PCs. You can also manually drag-and-drop your data onto most of the aforementioned storage mediums, but such a routine quickly becomes tedious if you want your backups to stay consistent with your current data.
So what do you do now that you’re armed with this knowledge? Well, for starters, make sure the main repository of your information is backed up somewhere, as well as double check any of the secondary-use mediums for important data and back them up accordingly.
Thanks for checking out my blog post, and thank yourself after you’ve identified your most important data, where it is, and how to best back it up!
Still stuck on how to best proceed? That’s what we’re here for! Reach out to us to receive advice and guidance for how to best manage your data, as well as a plethora of other services such as data recovery, Mac repairs and upgrades, and training. You can check out our full list of services here.
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