Today, more people than ever use smartphones and tablets as their primary gateway to the web, with many leaving laptops and desktops behind altogether. If you use an Apple or Android smartphone such as the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy or a tablet operating on iOS or Android, chances are you’re storing crucial personal information and possibly confidential business data on your device, if you use it at work. That means you should have a backup strategy.

When you originally purchased and set up your device, you probably had the opportunity to take advantage of automatic backup features as well as a limited amount of cloud storage space provided at no charge by the manufacturer. On an Android device, the cloud backup service is called Google Backup, and users can enable it by navigating to Settings and choosing Backup to select options.

Similarly, Apple devices make it easy for users to set backup preferences using iCloud storage when activating the device. But if you skipped this step or want to check your backup settings, navigate to Settings, then choose iCloud and select Storage & Backup. There, you can enable automatic backup of photos, accounts, documents and settings when the device is plugged in, locked and connected to Wi-Fi.

Once you’ve enabled automatic backup, you can generally access items in your cloud storage from any compatible device by signing in with your Apple or Google user ID. This can come in extremely handy if you accidentally damage a phone or tablet and have to replace it. If your backup is current, you can restore all data from your account instead of going through the hassle of recreating contact lists and downloading documents, apps and accounts to the new device.

Having a cloud backup strategy in place is also critical if your device is lost or stolen. Since your device most likely contains highly sensitive personal information, you’ll need to act quickly if it goes missing so that your critical data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands and result in an identity theft issue. Most smartphones and tablets allow you to remotely wipe data to protect your information. Backup storage allows you to quickly recover your information when you get your device back or replace it.

If you use your device to store a lot of photos, videos, music or data, your storage needs may quickly outstrip the free storage offered by Google or Apple. If that happens, there are other options, such as purchasing more storage or offloading content to another cloud-based service like Dropbox or Google Drive. You may be able to find an app that transfers data to a third-party cloud storage platform automatically. If so, the vendor will provide instructions to enable automatic backup for your device.

The important thing is to think your backup strategy through ahead of time. Remember, identity theft is on the rise, and users are often the greatest hazard to their own devices, accidentally destroying phones and tablets in a variety of creative ways, including drops and spills. The data you have stored on your device may be irreplaceable, but if it’s backed up, you’ll be good to go when you get a new device. That’s why it makes sense to ensure you have a sensible backup plan in place now – before you need it.