They protect you from failure as well as malware.
We tend to think of backing up as being something separate from keeping our computers secure.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
To mis-quote the cereal commercial: backups are an important part of a healthy, secure breakfast.
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Backups ARE Security
Backups can save you from malware as well as hardware failure and user error. When used properly, backups also provide you with a safety net from even the most destructive of malware: ransomware. Backups are an important part of your overall security.
Recovery from failure
Backups are a great way to ensure you’re protected from hardware or software failure or even your own mistakes.
- If your hard disk fails unexpectedly, restore from a backup image.
- If your software corrupts a file, restore it from a backup.
- If you accidentally delete a file, restore the most recent copy from your backup.
Online or offline, the drill is the same: when something goes wrong, rely on your backup to save you (or at least reduce the impact).
But wait, there’s more!
Recovery from malware
Backups — specifically image backups — play a key role in your overall security.
- If malware infects your system, restore from a backup image taken prior to the malicious software’s arrival.
- If malware corrupts a file, restore it from a backup.
- If malware deletes files, restore the most recent copies from your backup.
No protection from malware is ever 100% safe. We’re all at risk. A proper backup dramatically reduces the impact of malware that does make it through.
With a full-image backup, malware becomes an annoyance instead of a disaster.
Recovery from ransomware
Ransomware is just malware.
Everything I’ve listed above about malware applies to ransomware.
- If ransomware infects your system, restore from a backup image taken prior to the malicious software’s arrival.
- If ransomware encrypts files, restore the most recent copies from your backup.
Yes, it is that simple.
“But ransomware can encrypt backups!”
That’s no reason not to back up.People still die wearing seatbelts, but that’s no reason not to buckle up.
You’re less likely to die wearing a seatbelt, and you’re less likely to be affected by ransomware if you have good backups.
- Not all malware is ransomware. Your backup still protects you from those.
- Not all ransomware encrypts backups. Your backup still protects you.
- Many backup tools now take steps to protect your backups from ransomware.
- Backups kept offline are out of the reach of ransomware.
And again, ransomware is just malware. Malware that is not ransomware that deletes backups has been around a long time. Same issue. Same solution.
You’re safer with a backup than without.
“So I’ll disconnect my backup drive when I’m not backing up.”
I recommend you do not disconnect your backup drive.
That’s like saying you’ll only put on your seatbelt when you know you’re going to be in an accident.
You just don’t know.
By keeping your backup drive connected, you can automate the backup process so you don’t have to think about it, much like making your seatbelt an automatic habit when you get into the car.
Having a backup process work without needing your intervention is more important than worrying about the backups themselves being encrypted by ransomware. If you have to initiate a backup to make it happen, it won’t happen.
You will forget.
And you’ll be left without a current backup, even when you need it for reasons other than ransomware.
Adopt the mindset that your backups are an important part of your security strategy.
- Automate periodic backups, ideally daily and/or continuously.
- Leave your backup drive connected. If you’re worried about ransomware encrypting your backups, you can take one or both of these steps.
- Use a tool that protects your backups. Macrium Reflect’s Image Guard feature is one example. There are others.
- Periodically copy your backup offline. Yes, this is a manual step that you might forget, but it’s safer to forget this than to forget backing up completely.
- Use online backup services. Many, like Dropbox or OneDrive, have the equivalent of a Recycle Bin as well as additional protections for ransomware.
Above all: back up. Someday, somehow, you’ll be very glad you did.
Now sure how? Start here: How to Back Up Windows 10 (& 11).