With increasingly mobile workforces, it\u2019s important to effectively backup corporate data that resides on laptops, which requires a unique set of features not found in traditional backup systems used for desktops attached to corporate LANs.\nLaptops have all the functionality of desktops, but are readily lost or stolen, have limited bandwidth for connectivity to corporate resources, and can spend unpredictable spans of time disconnected or turned off. So it\u2019s important to find backup options that meet these challenges, which can also include ransomware attacks.\n\nBacking up laptops properly also makes upgrading them much easier, especially in the world of remote work. A good backup system can restore a user\u2019s profile and data, and makes replacing a laptop much simpler for both the IT department and the person whose laptop is being replaced. With the right system in place, all you have to do is ship them a new laptop.\u00a0 They can restore their own profile and data without IT intervention, saving time, effort, and a lot of money.\nShortcomings of portable hard drives\nIt is possible to backup laptops on portable hard drives, but it\u2019s not a good option for enterprises.\nFirst, it violates the 3-2-1 rule that states there should be at least three copies or versions of data stored on two different pieces of media, one of which is off-site. Backing up one copy to one medium located right next to the laptop fails all three requirements.\nThis method is also really bad from a corporate IT perspective. There is no centralized control or reporting over the backup process, making it unwieldly and untrustworthy. It allows the risk of hundreds or thousands of unencrypted copies of corporate data sitting on the portable hard drives, making physical security a concern; it\u2019s super easy to mount a portable hard drive to another laptop and read all its data.\nLimits of traditional backup software\nAnother option is using traditional backup software that backs up data at the file level. This will work well for desktops on a LAN, but not for laptops. First there is the fact that laptops are not always connected, and traditional backup software assumes that they are. The traditional system\u2019s backup server kicks off nightly backup on a configured schedule. If a laptop is powered off or disconnected from the network at the time, the backup will fail.\nFull-file file incremental backups used by these traditional systems use far too much bandwidth to be practical for laptops that typically operate over lower bandwidth connections, and they tend not to encrypt backup in transit, exposing them to potential interception.\nSync-and-share limitations\nSome people use services like Dropbox or OneDrive to sync laptops to a cloud that stores a copy of their data. One advantage to this approach is that these products are often included in larger products like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, allowing budget-conscious companies to have something that\u2019s similar to backups without having to pay for it. It\u2019s important to note, however, that it will not have the same functionality as a backup product designed for backing up laptops reliably.\nOne difference between sync-and-share products and backup products is how they handle ransomware attacks.\nOnce a laptop is infected with ransomware, the malware starts encrypting files silently in the background. This process may take weeks or months before the malware has encrypted enough files to demand the ransom. This means that while the attack is in stealth mode, the ransomware-encrypted files will be synced via the sync-and-share program. Some sync-and-share products store only one version of each file in the cloud, while others store many. But every sync-and-share setup has a limited number of versions it stores.\nRansomware developers know this and have tweaked the stealth phase of their attacks to address it. They repeatedly encrypt a given file, causing it to be synced to the cloud multiple times, so at some point, every version of that file that is stored in the cloud is an encrypted one; there are no unencrypted versions that can be used to restore machines encrypted by the ransomware.\nBackup products designed with laptops in mind, on the other hand, don\u2019t have this limitation. Most have unlimited retention and therefore will always have the version of a file as it existed before being encrypted by ransomware.\nThe final concern with sync-and-share is that there is no centralized control or reporting that IT can use to ensure that copies of data are being saved. A user can accidentally or maliciously disable the sync process, causing their backups to stop, and IT will have no idea it happened. Any true backup system will have such management and reporting in the base product.\nLaptop-friendly backup\nThere are backup systems designed with backing up laptops in mind that can address these problems. They provide the centralized control, scheduling, and monitoring that are essential to corporate IT.\nThey can also be made invisible to the end user, meaning backups just happen, don\u2019t slow down the laptop, and the typical user won\u2019t have to know or care about them. They are configured by an admin who can monitor them.\nBecause laptops typically have connections with limited bandwidth, it\u2019s desirable to have block-level incremental or source-side-deduplication backups to reduce the amount of data that needs to be sent to the backup-storage system and so reduce the time the transfer takes. These are features true backup products and services can provide.\nEnd-to-end encryption is also a plus to protect the data in transit.\nSpecific ransomware protection is another attractive option that can detect an attack, and in the event that an attack succeeds, some backup products and services can simplifying the process of recovering hundreds of files across many directories.\nNot all backups for remote systems have all these features, so shop carefully.\nYes, these systems cost money, but you might be surprised how much you can save when it comes time to upgrade or replace these machines. You\u2019ll also be really glad you did this if you get hit by a ransomware attacks, which are not likely to get less common.