Wednesday, 25 November 2015 23:25

Acronis advocates avoiding data doom with 'digital life insurance'


Dr Doom is the bad guy all too easily defeated in ‘Fantastic Four’ movies, but without ‘digital life insurance,’ a digital Dr Doom stalks your data.

Digital life insurance. No, it’s not for sale from AXA or AMP or AIG. Well, maybe it is, but not in the pragmatically practical form that the intrepid digital data company Acronis likely envisages.

Acronis advises that your digital life contains your photos, music, personal documents and more - bookmarks, videos, scanned items, financial records, downloads, smartphone and tablet backups, software license keys, app backups, password records and everything else our digital lifestyles encompass in the modern era.

Because all of this information is now routinely stored entirely in digital formats, this naturally exposes them to the risk of data loss due to device or storage system failures, theft or other mishaps that damage devices.

In steps the digital life advisor of our story, Lincoln Goldsmith, GM of Acronis Australia, who said, “It is common practice for individuals to insure their homes, vehicles, possessions, their health, and their lives.

“But, some of our most valued possessions these days are digital and highly personal, such as photos, videos, financial records, email correspondence, and other personal information.

“It is important to protect those digital parts of our lives,” Goldsmith counsels.

The digital adventure continues below - please read on!

Superman may well have been susceptible to Kryptonite, but in the modern era, kryptonite for data is a crashed hard drive, whether through wear and tear or simply being accidentally dropped. It is also scratched CDs or DVDs, overused USB flash drives that are now frozen and unreadable, or which have gone through the wash and the dryer unexpectedly, or hard drive backups using ‘free’ software that mysteriously stopped working six months ago but never had the decency to tell you about it.

While it is easy to put a price tag on a physical possession, such as a car or a mobile phone, clearly we should all think about the price tag attached to our digital selves.

There is an increasingly tangible value attached to the information kept on digital devices and in the cloud - provided it is there when you go to retrieve it in the event you need to.

Thus, the cumulative purchase value of digital products is only half the story. The dollar value of digital items is compounded when taken into consideration with the time and money it would take to replace or recover such data in the event of a storage malfunction.

Goldsmith asked: “How much is your digital life worth? Once people figure that out, they can begin to identify how much they should invest to insure their online assets.

“The good news is that it is easier than ever to insure our digital selves with cloud-based backup and recovery solutions that can be applied to any number of devices or online activity.

“Unlike conventional storage systems, such as computer hard drives, cloud-based systems are not prone to the same sort of failure issues physical systems can face.

"This means that, as consumer behaviour changes, cloud-based back-up and recovery solutions will begin to be the go-to insurance policy for individuals and businesses alike, when it comes to protecting online assets.”

Naturally, Goldsmith would counsel that the cyber hero of this story is the software he shepherds, Acronis True Image 2016 and Acronis True Image Cloud, as well as the small, medium, large and enterprise versions of various Acronis backup and recovery solutions.

Of course there are various backup solutions out there - some Internet security programs come with a measure of cloud backup storage, while popular cloud backup services also all offer a portion of storage free of charge, before all asking for payment should extra space be required.

Acronis is no different in one sense - it is paid software, on a perpetual license in the case of Acronis True Image 2016 (without cloud storage included) which will eventually need updating to a newer version at some point in the future, be it a year or more down the track.

The other alternative is a yearly license with Acronis True Image Cloud - which offers unlimited cloud storage, as well as the ability to offload large files, rarely used data or whatever data you want from your hard drive into your encryptable Acronis cloud storage space over and above your standard image and file based cloud backups.

Both versions of Acronis True Image also allow you to create file and image based backups to external hard drives for local storage and safekeeping, with more than one copy of your backup advised to keep your bases covered, as well as a cloud backup so a digital offsite copy is maintained and easily accessible.

Unsurprisingly, Acronis obviously hopes you’ll consider purchasing its software, and clearly issues its digital life insurance advice hoping to ensure at least some proportion of everyone and anyone reading it will actually take action to become a backup expert well before the need for retrieving data or an entire computer system from a backup is ever required.

Which backup software and cloud service you choose to use is up to you, but whatever you do, consider buying some digital life insurance in the form of modern computer and device backup software, because it’s incredibly easy to do, extremely affordable to do it and would be worth many times its weight in Goldsmiths in the almost inevitable event that you will one day need it.

After all, you may wish to rely on and hope that the odds of never having a crash will be ever in your favour, but if you back up properly, with onsite, offsite and online copies, the force of painless data restoration will be with you - to infinity, and beyond!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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