A broken hard drive, a stolen notebook or a virus capable of erasing – the scenarios for total data loss are manifold and threaten every computer user. If the worst-case scenario occurs, help usually comes too late: Only a few users bother to carry out an effective data backup. Everyone has valuable and in case of doubt irretrievable data, such as photos or videos.
- The most comprehensive method of data backup is a complete image of the hard drive.
- In order to access individual files from the image, the backup does not normally have to be completely copied back to the hard disk.
- Data can be backed up in the same way using an external hard drive.
- Nowadays, clouds also allow online data backup.
Image backup: The full data backup
Image backup is the most comprehensive method of data backup, as a complete image of the hard drive, the so-called image, is saved on an external data carrier. This full data backup requires a lot of storage space, but in case of doubt, not only application data such as texts, images, tables, music or videos can be restored. The entire bootable operating system with all installed programs and individually configured settings can be repeated. If newly installed programs rehash the uprising, lengthy troubleshooting is no longer necessary – everything is as before with the image restored to the disk. External hard drives, which vary in price depending on the storage space, are suitable for image data backup. 500 gigabyte disks are already available for 40 euros.
Back up individual files
Image does not necessarily mean all or nothing, however: In order to access individual files from the image, the backup does not normally have to be completely copied back to the hard drive. As a rule, the image can be controlled as a virtual drive in which the user can click through the directory structures and use all the files there. In the event that an entire image is not required, most programs offer backup routines. Backup during operation, including the system partition, should also be part of the repertoire.
If you want to do without image routines, you can also back up your most important data manually from time to time: Web servers are an interesting storage alternative. The so-called webspace is available from many providers up to a certain size free of charge and beyond that for a fee. The desired data can be uploaded to a so-called cloud, where it can be called up again at any time.
Since no computer lasts forever …
At some point there will come a time when you have to move your programs and files to a new computer. Then the question inevitably arises: How do I get my data and programs onto the new computer? Mac users don’t need to read any further: anyone moving from one Apple computer to the next can simply have their old machine “vacuumed” by the migration assistant. PC users with the new Windows 10 can use free relocation wizards or the Disk2VHD tool, which Microsoft provides free of charge.
In addition to the free tools, there are also alternatives that can cost 40 to 50 euros, such as “Parallels Desktop Upgrade” or “PCmover”. But even with them you can’t do without manual labor. The biggest problem with utility programs is that you have little overview of which data and settings have been transferred and which have not. Therefore: Bite the bullet and dare a completely new beginning, with installation of all programs and manual copying of the data.
Above all, you need time and order for this – and an external hard drive in any case. The most important thing is to completely secure both the old and the new system before moving. This can be used to restore the data in case something should go wrong. In addition, you should make a list of the programs with serial numbers beforehand, instead of having to search for the data for software activation in the middle of the move. Another important aspect of data backup: patience.
In today’s knowledge society, digitized information is an existential necessity for companies, authorities, scientists and, last but not least, also for private users. The data is exposed to many risks, such as espionage, falsification or even unintentional or willful destruction. That is why data protection and data security are becoming more and more important.
- Data security: “State in which the risks that are present when using information technology due to hazards are limited to an acceptable level by appropriate measures.”
- Data security also includes the requirement for availability.
- Information is of integrity if all changes made can be attributed to the appropriate sources.
Definition of data security
Data security (also: information security) is defined as “a state in which the risks that are present when using information technology due to hazards are limited to an acceptable level by appropriate measures.” (Federal Office for Information Security). All technical and organizational precautions are ultimately always aimed at the confidentiality, availability and integrity of the data stored on the systems.
Requirement for confidentiality: protect data from unauthorized access
A central requirement within data security is the confidentiality of the data. How can this goal be achieved? Special programs encrypt e-mails, files stored on hard drives or the data transmission channel. The software converts information into an “illegible”, uninterpretable string of characters. Only those who have the right key can make the content readable again. In principle, all encryption methods can be overridden. Nevertheless, they are considered safe because these systems cannot be “cracked” in a realistic period of time.
Demand for the availability of IT systems and data
Data security also includes the requirement for availability. This means avoiding system failures so that access to the information is guaranteed at all times. The basic protection catalog of the BSI contains numerous measures for this, for example securing the power supply, protection against overvoltage, fire protection, protection against water damage or the air conditioning of IT components.
Requirement for integrity: complete and unchanged data
Information is of integrity if all changes made can be attributed to the appropriate sources. The requirement for integrity consequently aims to ensure that data is not changed unnoticed and that it remains complete. The data integrity is always given when the originally processed information can be consistently retrieved. In order to protect a document from falsification, a so-called checksum can be formed using mathematical methods, for example. Since even small deviations within a document would result in a different checksum, unwanted or malicious changes are relatively easy to detect with the help of checksum procedures.