Understanding Mobile Storage

by Craig Booker

Our world is changing, no surprise there! With that change comes a different way we interact with the world. It is no surprise that mobile devices have quickly become the norm in personal computing. Our phones now store all of our critical data. Gone are the days of remembering phone numbers, addresses, or appointments. Our cameras are with us wherever we go 24/7. In our pockets, purses, and bags we carry a lot of valuable data with us on a daily basis. We store memories that are priceless. Things which are irreplaceable if lost. So how do we practically protect this data? Protecting your mobile data is something which begins with understanding mobile storage and your personal use, which will lead to choosing backup solutions which best address your needs. In this series, I hope to address not only understanding mobile storage, but also identify some of the solutions available to users.

Our Devices

Awareness is one of the most critical assets when it comes to protecting our data. First we need to be aware of what we use our mobile devices for each and everyday. Sure we may assume all of us play a game of Angry Birds or take lots of photos, but knowing your specific use-case is key to formulating a plan to protect your personal data. So ask yourself some key questions to formulate your specific use-case.

Defining Your Use-case

What functions do you do on a daily basis? For instance, I use it to read the news, the Bible, to keep a journal. I also use it for interacting with financial institutions, finding restaurants, or going to the movie. I shop… I buy a lot of basic necessities through the use of my phone. As many do, I take a lot of photos. I use it to document receipts, keep records, etc. I use it to listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and videos. I am fairly social on my devices. I interact on social media, talk with friends, keep up with family. So by writing these things down, I can be aware of the data which might be on my phone. More importantly, I know which data I could live with and without. My intent here is to start the discussion which in turn will lead to identify the right backup solutions for your mobile device(s).

Solution Types

There are so many options when it comes to backing up our data that the average consumer can become overwhelmed. Companies bombard us with services which we really have little idea what they do. We just know we “need” them. Or do we? We have been taught that all things live in “the cloud.” Gone are the days in which we plug our mobile devices into our personal computers. For many, our phones are our personal computers. So what happens when your mobile device disappears or decides to take a swim? Where do we find all of our passwords, our personal data or get in touch with friends, colleagues or family? Some would say "the cloud", some would still look back to their computer, many wouldn’t know where to begin.

The Cloud

As gimmicky as the term has come to be, we still know very little about the cloud and what goes there. How does it get there and who set it up? How do I get to it if I lose my device? All very valid questions which should be asked before your device is lost. Sadly, it typically takes a bad experience of loss before we start to pay attention to all of these details.

Which Service Should I Choose?

You may know a service which relates to your specific platform of choice, but you may not connect the service with being a cloud service. Whether you have an iPhone/iPad, Android, or Windows device, you probably have setup some sort of cloud service without knowing what exactly it was or why you needed it. So take some time to inventory your device and find your login. For iOS(Apple devices) you probably have setup an iCloud account. For Android, you should have a google account. For Windows you will setup a Microsoft Office 365 account. We won’t get into each service in detail here, but know that these are out there. Typically, if you buy a device, the manufacturer or platform will walk you through the setup for a free basic account with the option to upgrade your account.

Multi-layered Approach

While cloud storage is a component to backing up our devices, we should not rely solely on cloud services to backup our most precious data. Not to discount its usefulness, just know that protecting your data should be done on a variety of different levels. There should always be more than one way to get your data should a tragic event occur. Each cloud service has unique strengths and all have value, but they are not the end-all-be-all in protecting your data.

The Personal Computer

So many of us started this smartphone journey plugging our devices into our personal computer to update and backup our device. No, cloud services have not always been as good as they are now. For many of us, we may be inclined to plug our devices into our desktop or laptop computer for another form of backup. This can be used as an additional layer of backing up our data, but many will not do this for lack of convenience. If it works for you, then this is definitely a viable option. If you are not willing to put in the time to attach your device to your pc, then this probably isn’t the best option. Consider your routine and what is a viable option. It is only viable if you will commit to doing it regularly.

External Storage

For some platforms such as Android, external storage has been around since the beginning. For others such as iOS, this is a relatively new option. Most of us are familiar with external storage for a desktop or laptop computer, so this is not a new concept altogether. Many favor this form because of this familiarity. Many chose a platform because it offered this when others did not. Either way, this is now a very viable option in protecting your data. As a culture we rarely carry a camera other than our phone. So, what does all of this mean practically?

So hopefully after examining the different storage option types and reflecting on how you use your devices, you will have a better awareness of your personal needs when it comes to backing up your data. Knowing what data is important to you is the first step in choosing a backup solution or solutions. In future posts, I hope to cover some of the different cloud options and other strategies for backing up mobile devices.

Published on 2020-04-11