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Golden rules of digital backups

Remember to save, remember to save, remember…How many times have you frenetically clicked on the little blue disk icon because you have been afraid of losing your work in Word? That was not so long ago. Now, all word processing, video or audio software have integrated automatic backup and recovery features. Even your emails are systematically saved as drafts. However, you are not safe from losing your digital data because of a power cut, a device failing or you simply moving around. Today, mobiles and tablets contain just as much of your life as your good old computer. What should you do if they are stolen, lost or dropped? Here are the golden rules for digital backups.

Physical backups

Tidy your room, finish your homework, brush your teeth, make regular backups… If your parents have raised you the right way, you will have kept the reflex to copy and paste your most important files to an external hard drive. Either manually, when you want to, or automatically, as available on the majority of devices, such as Apple’s famous Time Capsule. You can also create an image of your computer, in case you need to do a complete system reinstall. But be careful, hard drives will not last forever; their lifespan will range from five to seven years if they are handled carefully, protected against shocks and heat, and not overloaded with data. The same is also true for rewritable media, CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, unless you opt for the M-Disc, which will last…1,000 years!

Physical backups

Virtual backup

This is a revolution…well, a cloud. In just a few years, cloud computing has evolved from being reserved for IT experts and an alternative to hard drives to an essential storage method for all types of content: photos, videos, documents, music, email, software, etc. The range of services available has logically grown, with several leaders on the market (Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, adapted and progressive packages (from 2 to 15 GB free, from €7 to €9.99/month for 1 TB), as well as various backup and security options (two-stage validation, 30-day history). Some, like Flickr and Picasa, have even chosen to specialize in photos. If you are an Orange customer, you have free access to the Orange Cloud and 100 GB. The advantage with the cloud is that all your devices (computer, mobile, tablet) are covered and synced with one dedicated app.

Mobile backup

Mobile phone brands often offer their own in-house solutions, with the BlackBerry Protect, Windows Phone’s Back up my stuff and, of course, the combined iCloud and iTunes solution for iPhones. The iCloud method is automatic as long as your mobile, or tablet, is connected to a wifi network and power source, while iTunes backs up each time you sync with your computer. For Android devices, the linked Google account already makes it possible to secure a lot of data, but you can also download an app like App Backup & Restore, My Backup or Titanium Backup. Lastly, mobile backups can also be physical, with growing numbers of special USB keys and wifi hard drives available. Every base is covered and your data are secure.

Best hard drives

Western Digital My Passport Ultra

An all-time classic, Western Digital’s My Passport has switched to Ultra mode, with even more capacity (from 500 GB to 3 TB), colors (black, white, blue, wild berry) and backup options (local and cloud), as well as USB 3.0 compatibility and a three-year warranty.

>> From €109.90 for 500 GB,

Western Digital My Passport Ultra

Toshiba Canvio AeroMobile

Ideal for mobiles and tablets, Toshiba’s Canvio wireless SSD hard drive delivers 128 GB of storage, an 8-hour battery life and an SD card reader, all in a compact (12.5 mm thick), lightweight (120 g) design. Its big brother, the Canvio AeroCast, offers up to 1 TB of backups and simultaneous connections to six devices.

>> From €113,

Toshiba Canvio AeroMobile

AirPort Time Capsule

Specially designed for Macs, the outstanding Time Capsule has been given a new look, with its fresh design and increased capacity.  Both an ultra-quick wifi base station and a 2 to 3 TB wireless hard drive, it offers an automatic and continuous backup of your files with the Time Machine software on OS X.

>> From €369,

AirPort Time Capsule

SanDisk iXpand and Dual Ultra

The SanDisk brand offers a good range of two-in-one USB keys to free up space on your mobiles and tablets, make your data safe or transfer them to your computer. The iXpand is designed for the iPhone and iPad, with a Lightning connector and a capacity of up to 128 GB, while the Dual Ultra is aimed at Android users, with up to 64 GB of storage, a micro-USB port on one side and a USB 3.0 on the other.

>> iXpand: from €56 for 16 GB,
>> Dual Ultra: from €11 for 16 GB,


Dual Ultra