Loss and Theft - Data

If you value your data (notes, essays, project work, favourite holiday photos) you need to back up your files. This simply means copying the files to another storage device, e.g. USB pen drive, CD, or external USB hard-drive that you keep separate from your computer and which is free from any viruses.

Take two backup copies (on to separate storage media) of important files. If you've just spent six hours writing an essay, it's time to do a backup!

Take care not to lose this storage device, especially if it's a USB stick and you carry it around with you.

Never put highly confidential information on a USB stick (or similar) in an unencrypted format.

If you sell your computer or give it away (even to a close friend or relative), make sure that all the data on it has been deleted. You can either reformat the hard disk or opt for a more robust solution that completely wipes the data from the disk (e.g. Darik's Boot and Nuke).

Most mobile devices (e.g. phones) allow you to access all kinds of services and store your usernames and passwords. If yours is lost or stolen then someone may be able to access all your information.

For staff and postgraduates, the University also runs a free back-up service, the HFS. You register your computer with this service, and can then back it up on demand and/or on a weekly automatic schedule.

Back Up Your System Files

Operating systems are made up of a large number of files that make it possible for a computer to run. Most computer systems have standard utilities for making backup copies of key system files - try typing the word backup into your computer's Help system. You should also keep boot CDs to start up the computer if the main disk becomes faulty.

If you use a Mac, upgrade to the latest operating system and use the Time Machine feature.

For more information about locking up your data, see the Information Security web pages and lunchtime courses.

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