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This past week, I have been very busy researching this very technical computer geek topic – data security. I have spent dozens of hours poring over websites, forums, and blogs. And I have used (abused?) my credit card a few times to try various options.
Then it dawned on me that nobody had ever told me about this stuff (or at least not completely) – not in the 1 1/2 years that I have been freelancing and doing Internet marketing, and STUDYING ABOUT freelancing and Internet marketing. But this is very important stuff.
So I think that a post – or better yet a series of posts – on data security would be my contribution to the freelancing community.
Why is this important?
Data security is essential to anybody who uses the computer, even if you don’t ever use it for work. For example, you probably store all of your family’s digital pictures in your computer. Imagine if you lost all that data – you would have lost something priceless and irreplaceable.
It’s clear how important data security is when your computer is also your main tool for earning an income. In addition, you’re responsible for the safekeeping of files for people who’ve paid for your services, your clients. The loss of computer data, in this case, would entail a huge financial tragedy with potentially long-term consequences (such as losing clients).
Therefore, data security is a basic need for anybody who works from home through the computer – and particularly for freelancers.
Since it looks like nobody else talks about data security for freelancers, I will do it, so keep reading.
(A warning: this is a laywoman’s very simplified view of this topic. There will be nuances that I will not be able to cover. However, I will cover the topic WELL ENOUGH so that the work at home freelancer can be sure to have his/her b**t covered in this area 😉 )
Types of Data Security
When I was discussing this topic with my husband, our lines would cross and I would get frustrated. You see, he was thinking only about backing up the data in our main laptop. Whereas I was talking about archiving data. These are two very different things. In fact, as I see it, there are three types of data security:
This is what most people commonly think of when they hear the term “data security.” Wikipedia defines backup as:
“making copies of data so that these additional copies may be used to restore the original after a data loss event”
This is the type of data storage you want to have when, say, a computer virus wipes out all the data in your hard drive. If you have a backup of your documents, then you could easily restore the lost data – as far back as your recent backup, at least.
You will definitely want to have regular backups of your data. However, this is not enough. You need to consider two other types of data storage…
Wikipedia doesn’t have a suitable definition of data archiving, so let me give my own: Archiving is preserving data for an indefinite period of time.
Archiving is what you want to do with documents you would like to keep forever. You know, family pictures, videos, eBooks and courses you paid for, etc.
Data backup will not be suitable for archiving, because eventually you’ll have too many photos and other types of files in your computer’s hard drive. Therefore, you will need to store these files somewhere else (I’ll discuss options in a future post).
Since backups only make copies of what’s in your computer, after you remove these files from your computer, your backup will not keep copies of them either.
Conclusion: You need both data backup and archiving.
But wait, there’s one more. And this is particularly important for freelancers.
Wikipedia has a definition this time: Data synchronization is
“the process of establishing consistency among data on remote sources and the continuous harmonization of the data over time”
This is what you want when you’re collaborating with others on the same document. You each make changes to the document, and you would like to see the most updated version at the click of a mouse. Or, you would like to see an earlier version of it.
You can see how an automated way of synchronizing your files would be really awesome for a freelancer. Imagine being able to share “real-time” documents with clients, your virtual assistant, and other people you work with. On the other hand, if you’re a solo worker, you may not have much of a need for synchronization.
So there you have it, the 3 types of data storage, what they are, and why you need each one.
I’m all blogged out. I’ll be discussing the various options for each type of data storage in a future post so watch out for it.
In the meantime, do let me know what you think. Have you given a lot of thought to your own data storage needs? And what did you think of this post? Did I “get it” or am I just a confused non-techie word nerd?
photo credit: blakespot