Imagine if your wallet was stolen. Sure, it’s frustrating to have to replace your cards, get a new wallet, and you might lose $50, but what about the only copy of that photo of a loved one you’ve carried in there for 30 years? That one receipt from your first date? A picture your grandchild has drawn for you?
There’s no way of retrieving them. No bank has a copy and there’s no 1800 number to call to get a new one printed.
On the computer, photos, typed letters and your digital life record (if you have written one) are the equivalent of such pieces in your wallet.
Scammers know this. They can hold your files hostage if you have somehow granted them physical or remote access to your computer. They will ask for a large sum to release them, and there is no guarantee they will be returned even if you do pay.
There’s not a lot the ACCC can do!
But what if there was a way to alleviate this risk of destruction altogether?
Thankfully, some smart cookie invented the art of backing up. It can save the stress and you can keep files comfortably, knowing that if you get scammed, you have a fresh copy ready to set up again. No red faces here.
Back in the day, you’d have a hard drive and you would manually copy your files across to it. This is still a viable option if you’re not quite sure what to do.
Simply copy your home file and paste it across to your external drive. Make sure your key files have been copied.
Now, most modern computers have the option of an easy back-up.
Apple Macs have TimeMachine which keeps a constant backup of your computer and can be configured to backup even every hour.
Windows computers have File History which takes regular backups of your computer. These take the guess work out of it and mean that you can roll back your computer to a previous time.
It’s a good idea to back up regularly. Personally, I back up daily, but weekly or monthly may suit your needs.
Hard drives used to be the best external drive to copy across to. We all know how unreliable they have been, and how long the process takes. Plus, they are bulky.
Current technology is Solid State Drives (SSD). On the surface, they function like a hard drive – they store files.
Technically speaking, they are far more reliable as they don’t have moving components like a hard drive.
While SSDs are not 100 per cent reliable, they are significantly better and much more advanced than hard drives.
It’s recommended to plug them in at least every six months to keep them working.
You might have heard of the Cloud. This scary place is just another word for the internet. Think of it like a secure website that only you have access to – for example, OneDrive, iCloud and DropBox.
It is great in theory for personal backups, but if you have access to it on your computer, if under attack, so will your scammer. This means that it is not a viable option for a security back up.
Although it can be convenient to keep your external drive always plugged into your computer, this is not recommended, because if under attack, they might be able to take it over as well.
Only plug it in when you want to back up, and then unplug. If under attack and it’s plugged in, unplug it immediately.
I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping a regular back-up of your files.
It is such a small step to take every now and again to save you an immense amount of frustration, anger, and sadness in the future.
Edin Read is founder and chief technician at Greyology Tech Support for Seniors. Visit greyology.com.au