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Should I Encrypt My Backup? A Consumer’s Guide

It’s hard to avoid stories about cyber-attacks and data breaches. Companies like Target, Equifax and Yahoo have all incurred major breaches, so we know our privacy is at stake.

AcronisTrue Image 2020

But do we know what we can do about it?

Most of us do not, according to a study conducted by the Boston-based Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSB). Despite privacy concerns, consumers “appear unaware of the tools available to them to protect their data”.

It’s time to change that.

Encrypted backup is one of the easiest to use, most secure tools you can use to protect yourself. Let’s take a closer look at what encrypted backup does and evaluate two different options: iTunes and Acronis True Image 2020.

In This Article, We Will Be Covering:

  • What is an encrypted backup
  • Why you should encrypt backup
  • Backup encryption service options: iTunes and Acronis True Image 2020

Encrypted Backup Basics

Encrypting a file essentially translates the file’s data into a secret language. Only you hold the key: an impenetrable password of your own design. Behind the scenes, an algorithm scrambles the data into an unpredictable, unique format. When you need to recover your files, you enter your password and … poof! Just like Harry Potter waving his wand, everything reverts to its original form. 

Pro Tip: The idea here is bullet-proof information security. You must remember your encryption password. Without it, your data cannot be accessed.

Encrypting backups gives you personal control over your personal information. It’s a level of protection that goes way beyond an email password, for example. If your iPhone gets stolen or you leave your computer or iPad on an airplane, your information is locked securely with the password only you know. 

Why You Should Encrypt

Security is perhaps an obvious reason to start encrypting your backups. While common mishaps like losing your device can be disastrous, there are other threats. Identity theft is a serious, life-changing crime. Victims often endure weeks of stressful maneuvering, trying to find out how much of their personal information was compromised. Then, they must attempt to put the pieces of their life back together again, which can take months or even years. (Hint: Start with the Federal Trade Commission.) 

Your Phone is Too Smart

Nowadays our smartphones are uniquely important to us because they are smart; they contain a data-rich blueprint of our lives. Facebook and other social media tools are one common element for users. For example, do you also often browse to Amazon from your phone to make a quick purchase? What about other apps? All of these touches reveal more about you through the data you share while simply living your digital life. 

Meanwhile, if you use your iPhone or iPad for work, encrypted backup is even more essential and might even be mandated by your company. Sensitive data that falls into the wrong hands can lead to all kinds of mayhem. Depending on your company’s policy, you could be held accountable for a security breach or loss.

Did You Know?

Acronis True Image 2020 also supports Android phones. For the purposes of this article and our comparison to iTunes, we’ll focus on iOS.

Upgrading Your iPhone or Switching Carriers

Convenience is another reason encrypted backup is used. For example, with Apple’s iOS, you can restore your iPhone or iPad or load a device from an encrypted backup so all of your stored passwords are retrieved and transferred at once. You will not need to re-enter individual passwords if you are restoring from an encrypted backup. This trick makes upgrading your device remarkably painless and you’re less likely to run into problems should you be switching carriers, too.

iTunes Encrypted Backup

One commonly known, free tool for backup is iTunes, which offers an encryption option. iTunes encrypted backup typically includes passwords, Wi-Fi settings, and website browsing history. It also backs up the Health and Activity Data that is captured from iWatch apps. Beyond these elements, iTunes may or may not be able to help. 

Before initiating an iTunes encrypted backup, be sure you are comfortable with which components will be backed up, and which ones won’t be included. (Practical considerations, like how much available storage you have on your computer, are equally as important, too.) Should you have to restore from the encrypted backup, your entire phone will not be restored completely.

iTunes requires Moving Parts – Literally

While we don’t want to lose any of our data and we say security matters to us, few of us add “encrypt iPhone backup” to our nightly routine. It’s no wonder. The common backup solutions many of us might think of, like iTunes, take a lot of time and dedication to execute. 

iTunes backup requires proactive monitoring and is a bit clunky in implementation, for example. After physically plugging your iPhone into your computer, you must turn-on the “Encrypt” backup option in iTunes for it to begin regular encrypted backups. 

Once done, you should also make a regular habit of backing up your encrypted backup to offsite storage, such as iCloud or another online backup service. Any thorough backup strategy requires one storage location beyond your local computer. This isolates your data from the dangers that can threaten your local drives, such as a hardware failure, malware attack or natural disaster. As a key component of the so-called 3-2-1 rule of backups, the cloud provides the kind of convenient and accessible off-site security needed to keep your data safe.

Cloud backups do not happen automatically with iTunes and requires additional managing.

Acronis True Image 2020

Acronis True Image 2020 makes it simpler and more convenient to implement a regular encrypted backup plan. Getting started requires a quick initial setup on your computer. From that point forward, encrypted backup can happen automatically – and wirelessly.

Pro Tip: Configure the settings on your iPhone so that it always recognizes your home Wi-Fi network and connects automatically. Encrypted backup can begin while you take your shoes off.

Control Over Your Data

Acronis believes you alone should have total control over your data’s destiny. When you load Acronis True Image 2020 to your computer, you’ll configure settings that make sense for you. For the sake of this article, we’ll assume you wish to encrypt backups for your iPhone and will backup offsite to the Acronis Cloud for additional protection. 

When you install Acronis True Image 2020, select the “encrypt backup” option and enter a password that you will remember. Files are automatically encrypted during each step of the backup process – the moment you backup to your computer, while your data is transferred to the Acronis Cloud, and once it is stored there. You will not need to re-enter your password again until you wish to recover files

Did You Know?

Acronis uses government-grade encryption protocols, a level that financial institutions and health care providers trust to secure their files and comply with regulatory requirements. Accessing your files would take a brute-force hack, which requires more than a lifetime to execute.

Honey, I’m Home!

You can adjust permissions within Acronis True Image 2020 so that the moment you arrive home, it will automatically begin backing up over your home Wi-Fi network to a local Mac, PC or a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. You won’t even have to think about encrypted backup; it will happen automatically.

Back up Facebook and Instagram, Too

If you’re like many people, your iPhone is a personal hub for your day-to-day interactions – from email to phone calls, text messages, web browsing, and social media. Acronis True Image 2020 backs up both Facebook and Instagram to safeguard your photos, profile information, and even posts and messages. Think about how many personal moments and snapshots you capture on those platforms. And while you might assume those memories will always be there, the truth is they are vulnerable to hacks and accidental deletion. They might not be if you don’t back them up securely. 

Did You Know?

Businesses need backup too. If you’re interested in how Acronis’ business backup compares to competitors like Veeam, click here.

Final Thought

Now that we know encrypted backups are a valuable tool to protect your data, it’s up to you to determine which solution makes sense for you. iTunes is undoubtedly a familiar, free option that can meet simple needs. For more comprehensive, secure data protection, you might consider Acronis True Image 2020, since it delivers convenience and data-security confidence to novices and more advanced consumers alike.

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