How to Verify Your Data Backup Actually Worked

When a system crashes or an iPhone is stolen, that’s usually when someone grasps the importance of data backup. But just because someone is using Time Machine or iCloud as a backup method doesn’t necessarily mean all the data is protected. If the house is flooded or a large scale disaster occurs, all of that data could disappear. So how does a consumer know if the family photos, thousands of music files and other important documents are safe?

Almost three in four customers say they would save the data on their devices before their devices, yet few actually protect their data, according to an Acronis survey. Personal photos are the most valuable piece of data since they are irreplaceable memories of once-in-a-lifetime events such as weddings and graduations. Of those who back up their data, only 9 percent use the cloud, while 91 percent turn to external hard drives and even old-school CD-ROMs.

Despite common belief that one backup is sufficient, consumers and companies alike need to enlist a 3-2-1 backup strategy, which calls for three copies in two different formats with one copy offsite. For consumers, that could mean an iCloud backup, an external hard drive backup and one backup stored at a family member’s house.

Those who rely on Time Machine often think of it as a trusted data backup solution, yet it’s only one copy in one format. “Time Machine is high performance; it’s easy; but if your house burns down or is flooded or somebody breaks in and steals the computer and the hard drive, you don’t have a lot of options,” says Nat Maple, senior vice president and general manager for consumer business at Acronis.

When a system actually crashes and data must be restored from a backup, a consumer will want to know that everything is recoverable.

Here are four ways to verify that backup actually worked, according to Handy Backup:

  1. Make sure the contents on the backup system are readable. Note that this option assumes that the copying was done correctly.
  2. Do a bit-by-bit comparison of the original data and the backed up data.
  3. Calculate checksums and compare them for accuracy.
  4. Check manually by randomly picking a file, restoring it and checking to make sure it matches the original file.

Just as companies need to backup their value data about business operations and customer information, consumers should back up their data using the 3-2-1 system — verify that the data is protected.

Image via Can Stock Photo