data storage

Sometimes my computer screen looks like a kaleidoscope of icons, with pictures and documents all jammed together and fighting for space.

I lost (or maybe misplaced) a few documents last year and thought it was time for some spring cleaning (and securing) of my files.

When choosing how to back up data, there are several options to consider. Some include external hard drives, the cloud, thumb drives, CD or DVD backups. Here are four things to consider when it comes to choosing the best way to store your digital data.

1. What are you looking to save?

Personal photos, documents, tax records, videos or other unique materials that cannot be recreated are things you are going to want to back up and save on a secondary source. Images that you downloaded may be inconvenient to get again, but they are replaceable. You need to decide if the time to recreate a file outweighs the cost and upfront time for data storage.

2. How much data do you need to store?

Just like storing coats over the summer, you should to determine how much space you’ll need before deciding how to best store your files. It is also a good time to clean up and delete old files that you no longer need.

3. How sensitive is your data?

Thumb drives and hard drives are good options when storing low-security documents. Still, make sure they are password protected. More sensitive, higher-security data should be protected with extra safeguards like complex passwords and security questions.

4. What risks are you looking to guard against?

Thumb drives are simple to use and portable, but they can be easily lost or misplaced. Meanwhile, hard drives that reside side by side with your computer are vulnerable to burglary, fire, flood or other disasters.

For especially sensitive and/or important content, consider supplementary backup at a second location. Online storage services (a.k.a. the cloud) provide protection from theft, fire and flood that could occur in your home. There are many providers with varying pricing and services. Be sure to research companies and protection policies.

No matter which data storage method you choose, make sure to store it in a cool, dry place and make regular backups. It’s also recommended that you test out your copies every two years and transfer your media to fresh copies every three to five years.

It’s possible that a data thief could gain access to your personal information even with sound data storage practices in place. For that reason, it’s worth considering identity recovery coverage in addition to safe data storage. Identity recovery coverage will help you undo identity theft damage and reimburse you for covered losses like lost wages, administrative expenses and even some legal fees. It protects everyone in your household, including your children. An Erie Insurance agent can tell you more about this affordable coverage.