Why is backing up files important
Whether you’re worried about ransomware encrypting your files or just generally losing them, you need to set up some kind of backup of your files. And one of the best ways to fight ransomware is to have an efficient data recovery plan. That involves having reliable and up-to-date backup. Having backup copies of files when dealing with a ransomware attack can mean the difference between recovering files in mere minutes and losing thousands of dollars by paying the ransom. So we highly recommend that users take the security of their files seriously and start backing up the ones they do not want to lose on a regular basis. There are many data backup options, allowing you to choose the best one for you. You first need to evaluate your needs, such as your budget and your storage capacity needs. You also need to decide whether you want to set up a cloud backup or use an external hard drive. Below you will find a couple of options for storage and how you can recover files in case they are ever lost.
Data backup options and file recovery
Cloud services are one of the most convenient ways to back up files as you don’t have to constantly connect to a removable hard drive. And while cloud services are usually paid, some do offer up to 15GB of free storage. Most cloud storage services allow file synchronization, meaning files in your backup will be updated automatically when you make a change. However, while it’s convenient, it should be mentioned that synchronization also means that if your original files become encrypted, the ones in cloud storage will be too. So before you start backing up, make sure that the cloud storage of your choosing allows you to revert files to previous versions. When you backup your data, you also take a step to data privacy by protecting it. Services like Delphix can help you understand why data privacy is important.
There are plenty of cloud storage services out there, and in addition to offering storage, they have other potentially useful features as well. Here are a few:
IDrive is one of the best options when it comes to cloud storage. It gives users free 5GB of storage and allows file synchronization across all devices that have IDrive set up. It also allows you to revert files back to previous versions, permitting you to recover files in case of ransomware attack. If 5GB of storage is not enough, you can purchase more. 5TB of storage is $69,50/year and 10TB is $99.50.
File recovery from IDrive
If your files have been encrypted by ransomware, you should be able to recover them if they’re backed up in IDrive. It’s important to note that you should not connect to backup if ransomware is still present on your computer.
Using IDrive to recover files is easy, just sign in to IDrive, click on Dashboard -> Computers, select your device, then click Restore. Select from where the files should be restored, select the files and click Restore Now.
OneDrive belongs to Microsoft and is convenient to use with Microsoft Office programs such as Words and Excel. Users with a Microsoft account, which is required to use OneDrive, automatically get 5GB of free cloud storage. OneDrive is easy to use for backing up files and has a feature that allows to restore files to previous versions. This is convenient in case your files are very encrypted by ransomware. If the free 5GB is not enough, you can purchase more storage, such as 100GB for $1.99/month. The family plan gives 5TB of storage in addition to Microsoft 365 for $99.99/year, and the Microsoft 365 personal plan is $69.99/year for 1TB of storage plus Microsoft 365 programs.
File recovery from OneDrive
If your files become encrypted or otherwise damaged and you’ve backed them up on OneDrive, it may be possible to restore their previous versions. It’s important to note that you should not connect to backup if ransomware is still present on your computer.
To begin file restoration, open OneDrive, right-click on the file you want to restore and click “Restore previous versions”. This will restore the file to the way it was prior to the ransomware infection.
Dropbox is a widely used cloud storage service that offers 2GB of free storage. It has a synchronization feature but it’s only available for paid users. If you need more storage or want to use the paid features, you can subscribe to DropBox Plus for either $11.99/month (or $119.88/year) to get 2TB or $19.99/month (or $199/year with the current discount, $239.88/year full price) to get 3TB. Paying for storage also allows you to synchronize your files with DropBox.
File recovery from DropBox
If your files have been encrypted but they’re backed up in DropBox, you should be able to recover them with no issue. It’s important to note that you should not connect to backup if ransomware is still present on your computer.
If your files were not synchronized with DropBox, just log in to your DropBox account and start recovering files. If you were synchronizing them and the files are encrypted in DropBox as well, right-click on the file and click “Previous versions”. If previous versions are available, choose the one you want to restore to.
- Google Drive
As is obvious from the name, Google Drive is a cloud storage solution provided by Google. It offers 15GB of free cloud storage to all Google accounts and you are free to use that to back up your files. Google Drive is part of a larger platform known as Google Workspace, which also includes Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Meet and Chat, Currents and Google Docs. Google Drive is easy to use and navigate so if you do not have much data you want to back up, the free 15GB may be enough for you, and it’s automatically available to you if you have a Google account. If you need more storage, you can choose 100GB ($1.99/month or $19.99/year), 200GB ($2.99/month or $29.99/year), and 2TB ($9.99/month or $99.99/year).
File recovery from Google Drive
If you backed up your files via Google Drive and the originals have become encrypted, you can access Google Drive to recover them. It’s important to note that you should not connect to backup if ransomware is still present on your computer.
If the encrypted files were synchronized with Google Drive, the files in your Google Drive will also be encrypted. However, the cloud service has a feature that allows you to view previous versions. Simply open your Drive, open the folder with the files you wish to recover, right-click on the file and select “Manage versions”. Select the version from before the ransomware infected your computer, and it should be restored.
- External Hard Disks
External Hard Disks (or External Backup Drive) are another way to back up files. You can find them in any tech store or online store like Amazon, and prices vary depending on how much storage you need and which brand you want to use. Top results on Amazon show that you can get a 1TB hard drive starting from $40, 2TB for around $60, 4TB for $90, etc. If you’re used to paying $0.99-$6/month for storage, it may seem more expensive to buy an external hard drive but it’s a long-term investment and will serve you for a long time, provided you do not damage it.
File recovery from an external hard drive
If your original files have been encrypted by ransomware, you can easily recover them from an external hard drive. Before you plug it in, however, make sure that you remove the ransomware first. If the ransomware is not removed, it will encrypt the files in your backup when you plug it in. Once the computer is clean, connect the backup and start the file recovery process.
Programs that can help recover encrypted files
You will find many programs claiming to be able to recover lost files, and while it may be possible if they were accidentally deleted, they rarely work on files that have been encrypted. Otherwise, ransomware would not be such a successful form of cyber attack as no one would pay the ransom.
- Shadow Explorer
If your files were encrypted by a very simple ransomware, shadow copies of your files created by your operating systems may not have been deleted. In that case, it may be possible to recover them using Shadow Explorer. Download Shadow Explorer from the official website and follow its provided instructions. However, bear in mind that most ransomware, especially the widespread ones, always delete the shadow copies, thus making it impossible to retrieve them via Shadow Explorer.