If your laptop is stolen tomorrow, how would you protect your data today?

Being independent of the place (traveling or living as a digital nomad) increases the risk of data loss.

Your laptop could be stolen from your Airbnb rental or it could be snatched with your backpack tomorrow.

Additional wear and tear on your devices will shorten their lifespan. Like exposure to high temperatures, humidity, unexpected rain, or even sand on a beach.

And the lack of reliable internet on that tropical island you are staying on will lead you to not even bother with Dropbox or some other cloud-based backup service.

So, do you have all your photos on your laptop and nowhere else?

If you are using an external drive; When that record dies, will 6 months’ worth of your work die with it?

When the internet is slow to the point where you can’t trust Dropbox, Google Docs, or some other cloud backup service to work for days in a row; Are your latest computer files still protected?

Because if you don’t have a good answer to the questions above, then read on. This article will help you find a bulletproof solution to keep your data protected while traveling or living anywhere in the world.

The rule of 3

In the climbing world there is what is called a climbing anchor. It is what prevents you from plummeting to the ground if you were to fall during an attempt to ascend a towering rock face.

Since it is the difference between being alive or dead if your anchor fails, it is not made up of a single point of protection. There are at least 3 solid protection points within a suitable climbing anchor.

The rule of 3 is used in rock climbing

This turns the risk of a total anchor failure into something very unlikely. Even if a piece of gear broke or part of the anchor came loose with a loose stone; you will still be alive.

A similar principle should apply to how you protect your data. This is the back-up rule of 3, also known as the “3-2-1 back-up rule.”

  • 3 copies of your data. Because two copies are not enough if your data is important to you.
  • 2 different media formats for your backup. Like an external hard drive + SD card.
  • 1 external backup. If your bamboo bungalow catches fire along with all your belongings inside it, how will you get your photos back?

Why is this necessary?

As with climbing, things can and will go wrong.

A rogue wave on the beach could throw you into the water along with your laptop and external drive.

That budget airline you flew with could lose all your luggage.

And an online backup of your data can be corrupt and useless.

A real life solution

Adhering to the principle of 3-2-1 backup with your critical and most important data is not as difficult or technical as it may seem.

Step 1

Choose an external hard drive if you don’t already have one. Choose a drive with at least twice the capacity of what you are currently using. So if 400 gigs of your laptop’s storage is used, buy a 1 terabyte drive.

If you’re not sure which hard drive to buy, a Western Digital My Passport Ultra is a great option. It is small, fast, reliable, and relatively inexpensive. It also includes easy-to-use backup software for Windows.

After connecting your drive, you’ll want to start backing up your laptop right away.

You can do this on a Mac in less than a minute by enabling Time Machine.

If you have a PC, use the backup software included with your external drive. If your drive doesn’t have any backup software to go with it, a software solution that many trust is Genie Timeline.

Step 2

Now you want to start sending your most important files to the cloud.

For a simple all-in-one cloud backup solution, we recommend using Dropbox. If you prefer Google Drive or some other service, stick to them, as this tip can be easily adapted to those alternatives.

For $ 8.25 a month ($ 99 annual fee), you can get 1 terabyte of space with Dropbox right now.

Put all your most important files in your Dropbox folder. If you are using a Mac, here is an article that explains how to do it brilliantly with an app called MacDropAny. But don’t worry you can do the same with a pc.

At this point, you will have 3 copies of your most important files. They are on your laptop, external drive, and inside Dropbox. You are using two different types of media for backing up; your external disk and your “disk in the cloud”, which is Dropbox or a similar service. And you’re using an off-site backup, which again is Dropbox.

And then there is Step 3

As a digital nomad, you will need to go one step further to fully follow our Rule of 3. This is because the Internet is often unreliable when we change country, location or when we go on a trip.

And there is a simple remedy for this.

Grab a high-capacity USB stick. The 128GB SanDisk Cruzer is a solid option and can be found on Amazon for less than $ 30.

Keep it separate from where you keep your laptop and external drive whenever possible.

When the internet is too slow to sync with Dropbox for a day or more, you’ll want to copy the most recent file changes to your USB stick at the end of the day.

It’s a simple tactic, but it will give you peace of mind knowing that your most important computer files and photos are safely protected.

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