It has been a difficult week at college. Exams won’t be long to come, so all professors are extremely demanding. You come home, grab a banana for a quick snack and get down to writing an essay.
After extensive research, you are ready to express your thoughts. You throw a glimpse at your watch. It is 6 pm. Alright, you are a fast typist. Here we go. At 9 p.m. you are halfway through the paper. You make yourself some tea and a promise to finish by midnight, or even sooner.
You cannot help smiling. It is half-past ten and you only need to write a conclusion. And suddenly your entire apartment goes black. Luckily, you do not need to search for a torch or candles, the power is back immediately.
Okay, not too bad. You are starting your computer again. Nothing is happening. You press the button a bit harder. Hold a bit longer. Negative. What time is it? Time to start panicking. You lost your essay!
You slowly breathe in and out and start calming down. That is a shame, of course. But you can pay for papers and they will exceed your expectations. Once you mentally solve this problem, you realize that you did not only lose your paper. Probably it is all your data on this laptop.
Sad But True
This is a sad story, yet one that happens quite often. But it’s no good crying over spilled milk. So we are here to highlight the reasons for losing your data. And to educate how you can prevent these unpleasant situations.
Reasons for Losing Data
- Hard drive failures
Sometimes, hard drives decide they have done their best and deserve a proper rest. Like any equipment, they wear off inevitably. But sometimes, you can cause this failure, by improper installation/removal of files or improper drive formatting. There are also some external factors:
- impact due to being dropped
- power cuts (tell me about it)
- exposure to magnetic fields
- water/fire damage
- Accidental deletions
Hard drives sometimes fail. So do people. All roommates hear a sigh of relief when you find your deleted files in the Windows Recycle Bin. Or a desperate yell if you do not. If you accidentally pressed Shift+Delete, these files are deleted permanently. Files accessed over a Network or very big ones do not end up in the Recycle Bin either.
- Computer viruses
Again: just like people do, computers catch viruses and infections. Having an internet connection is like sitting in a big room where some people are coughing and sneezing. No antivirus means no mask on. Email-based attacks and phishing are real threats with the ability to destroy.
- Laptop theft
If you think this cannot happen to you, check it out: someone steals a laptop every 53 seconds! So next time you work in a coffee shop, make sure you do not leave it on the table when you go to a restroom. If you often leave your laptop in the car, then put it in the trunk.
- Spilled liquid
You are meeting your friend in a cafe. She is late (typical Vicky), and you spend this time finishing a project on your laptop and sipping a latte. You have got great news to tell. Finally, she enters the cafe and sits down next to you. ‘Spill the beans!’ You make a dramatic arm movement and spill… your latte over the laptop.
Data Loss Prevention
These tips might seem quite obvious. But let us kindly remind you: it was not us who lost the essay because of a power cut.
- Keep your computer clean and dust-free
Humidity can cause rusting, and dust is often a reason for overheating. So dust if you must.
- Save and backup your files regularly
If you are an ‘old believer’ and keep creating Word and Excel files, make sure you press Save as often as you can. Otherwise, enjoy the auto-saving benefits of Google docs. And consider using Cloud Storage altogether.
- Do not rely on flash drives
Putting your only copy on a USB memory stick is a bad idea. You can lose or damage it. Sometimes, flash drives stop working for no clear reason. They can also get corrupted. Then all the information becomes inaccessible.
- Keep your anti-virus software up to date
Do not ignore this suggestion when it pops up. Otherwise, your laptop risks getting exposed to COVID-19 of the virtual world.
- Do not leave your laptop unattended
Or your phone. Or a tablet. Opportunists will not only steal your money but also your information. The cost is too high for being carefree.
- Do not open suspicious emails and attachments
This is common sense. But sometimes, scammers make their letters look quite realistic. If you receive an email from ‘your bank’ asking for sensitive data, call them to double-check. Besides, pay attention to the data you enter. Make sure you do not disclose extra personal information that might compromise your data security.
- Use a surge protector
This affordable device can protect both you and your computer from unnecessary ‘tension’ and ‘mood swings’.
- Do not delete random files
Each of us can make an error and accidentally delete something. But we are talking about spring cleaning for your laptop. If you do not know what the files are, it does not mean you should delete them. They can be of utmost importance for the whole system.
- Do not keep liquids close to your laptop
If you remember school, it was forbidden to enter the IT class with water or snacks. This rule is perfectly justifiable.
- Use a password manager
We all know how unsafe it is to have one and the same password for all occasions. And yet, how many of us neglect this common-sense rule? A password manager is a convenient and safe solution.
Data Safety Quiz
Answer the following questions.
- Do you save immediately and frequently?
- Do you update your antivirus system regularly?
- Do you make multiple electronic copies?
- Do you have a password manager and a surge protector?
- Do you embrace using the Cloud?
Give yourself a point for every positive answer and continue.
- Do you drink water/tea/coffee while checking your mailbox in the morning?
- Do you delete unknown files?
- Do you rely on flash drives only?
- Do you download suspicious attachments?
- Do you leave your gadgets on a passenger’s seat?
Give yourself a point for each question that you answered with No. Calculate the total number of points and check out your result.
Less than 5 points. You are carefree when it comes to your data security. Consider reconsidering your approach.
5-7 points. You are doing a good job but there is still room for improvement.
8-10 points. Congrats! Your data seems super-protected. Well-done!