Perhaps you have heard of a zero-day attack. It is so scary because there is no warning, and no time to prepare. Put on your sci-fi hat for a moment. (You know you’ve got one.) Imagine a group of invaders materializing right in your office. You have no idea they’re coming. You have no time to plan. One of them is administering a nerve pinch on you before you even know they’re in the room.

That is a zero-day attack. Except, you don’t need your sci-fi hat to experience it. You just have to be infected by the wrong computer virus at the wrong time. Before you know it… POOF! Your data is gone. Worse, viruses are not the only kind of zero-day meltdown for which you have to plan. Hard drives go down for the count, often, without warning. Computers get lost or stolen. iCloud takes a dirt nap on occasion. With so many ways to experience a meltdown, you need a few ways to fight back. If you don’t already have a strategy, here are a few ideas:

Find a Sensible Antivirus Solution

I place an emphasis on “sensible” because most antivirus solutions aren’t. If an antivirus ships as trial-ware on your brand new Windows machine, rest assured some company paid the computer maker for the right to place it there. It is a part of what is more harshly known as crap-ware. That is not the sort of thing that should inspire your confidence. It is usually junk that performs worse than the built-in Windows Defender that comes standard on every PC.

Antivirus for the Mac can be even more questionable. Though there are many attacks leveled at the Mac, there are no PC-style viruses the average person need fear. What you want from Mac antivirus software is something that:

  • Blocks Dangerous Websites
  • Protects Your Privacy on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn
  • Provides Safe Surfing

As TrendMicro puts it, something that “safeguards your digital life and protects your privacy from online threats, dangerous websites, and identity thieves.” In other words, you want to choose an antivirus solution that makes the most sense for the platform you use, and the threats specific to that platform. Antivirus is like a good pair of jeans: One size most definitely does not fit all.

Back Up What Matters

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to back up everything. If corrupted software is what caused your meltdown, reinstalling from a cloned copy will just insure that you have the problem again. Also, it wastes money and other resources to back up everything. You don’t need to back up the OS. You are most likely better off reinstalling a fresh copy of it anyway.

Rather, back up the things that cannot be restored from another source. Safeguard your photos, documents, and creative projects such as movies and music you are working on. You don’t have to back up everything, just what matters.

To the Cloud

There are free services that will automatically back up everything you hold dear. Google will gladly host your photos, documents, music, and anything else you trust to the Mountain View company. iCloud is a more integrated version of the same type of thing. When you buy a new Mac, you can have all your precious files on it before you leave the store. There are a number of other free and paid services that work for both Mac and PC, as well as iOS and Android.

Today’s world is prone to all kinds of hacking, from all directions, including even the government. Businesses and websites alike need to be vigilant. There is no excuse for losing anything important, regardless of the zero-day meltdown you happen to encounter. Between sensible antivirus, selective backups, and free cloud services, you can be prepared for anything.