Is your computer filled with old photos, videos, or documents that you somehow managed to keep around all these years?

Don’t worry, it’s not just you. We are all hoarders when it comes to our computers. We treat these devices as a large basement for all of our digital bags. They pile up over the years and many times we don’t even think about the consequences.

What would you do if you lost these files or even worse, someone else gets a hold of them?

As long as you know how to handle all of this data, you are good to go, but the moment you overestimate your computer and disregard warnings, you run the risk of losing all of your important files. You are the only person that knows what’s behind your computer screen. And it should stay that way.

You could have personal content, important documents or just pictures and videos of your family. No matter what the files contain they are yours, and instead of losing them or running the risk of them falling into the wrong hands, follow the next few tips to protect the data on your computer.

External Backup

A hard drive is a straight forward option to protect your data. It can be made easily accessible by keeping it near your computer, or for those that are extra careful, hidden away to make it harder to obtain for a home intruder.

It’s up to you to determine the level of safety you want to apply to your files, and therefore, to your external backup device.

If you go with the first approach, the best thing is to leave the hard drive in a nearby place or even connected to your computer. That way your computer can do regular backups. Then if something happens to your computer, you can immediately get back on track on a new device.

Hiding the hard drive is best when you want to protect your files from someone else. The most logical idea would be to store the external hard drive somewhere safe, far away from your computer.

If you are still worried that someone might get their hands to your data, you can always encrypt the hard drive. Which brings us to the next tip...

Encrypting All of Your Data

Did you know that your operating system, whether its Windows or Mac OS, naturally has a basic level of protection because it encrypts the files on it? However, we sometimes overestimate the power of our computer to automatically protect our privacy. Besides, the moment your files leave your device, for example when you store them on an external device or in the cloud, this encryption is gone. So what can you do in this situation?

If you are a Windows user, you can check your encryption status in BitLocker. For Mac OS that can be done through the FileVault. You can also use BitLocker or FileVault’s features to encrypt external hard drives. When you export files from you device, you can use open source tools such as VeraCrypt that can do the encryption for you.

Cloud Storage

Using cloud storage essentially means backing up your files on a server run and administered by a cloud storage service provider. You can trust the provider to keep your important files safe, and you are allowed access them anytime and anywhere. This is the best option for people that frequently open their files away from home. For example, cloud storage is excellent when you are on a business trip.

The best thing about using cloud storage is that you can find free options if you only need a small amount of storage space. Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox have free plans, but they are considerably limited. For example, on Google Drive you are only allowed 15GB of free storage room. For those that require bigger capacity, cloud storage can be purchased depending on your needs.

For your documents, photo albums and videos that you don’t want to lose this can be the ideal solution. Just be careful with the password and your email protection. Always make sure that you have a complex password protecting your valuables, and additionally, it’s best if you regularly change it.

Protecting Your Internet Data

By now you certainly have an idea of how to best protect all of the files you're hoarding. However, don’t forget that most of the time, if not all the time, your computer is connected to the internet. It’s not only the data stored on your PC or Mac that needs protection, but also your internet data. This includes all of your accounts and passwords, as well as the traffic going through your device/s.

Although it might sound complex, securing your internet data is much easier than you think. It’s even faster than securing your computer data, and it requires significantly less effort from your side.

Currently, the best way to protect your internet data is through a virtual private network (VPN). You can set up one for yourself if you have the technical knowledge for that, or you can use a VPN service provider. The second option provides you with an VPN client you just need to install, and it’s usually made in a simplistic way to appeal even to first-time users. What this means is that you are a click away from complete internet freedom, and an advanced layer of security over your internet data.

By choosing the right VPN you will, mask your IP address, get access to streaming services that might otherwise be blocked, and the best of all, your internet traffic will stay encrypted while you browse the web.

If you are extra careful you will consider both your online and offline data. Securing your computer and internet data will increase your privacy and protection. It will provide you with peace of mind every time you connect to your devices.

Your digital privacy and security are incredibly important and it’s time to do something about this. For more information on the topic, make sure to leave a comment below.