Our lives have become wonderfully digital but that creates a major problem. We have left the physical world behind. We really don’t have any information to hold in our hands. We no longer write notes on paper or put contacts in a family address book. I have a friend who can remember countless phone numbers from high school (that was 20 years ago) but I’m willing to bet a majority of us cannot remember 5 phone numbers today. All of this information is now stored in our computers, phones and iPads. It’s very easy to just put it there and forget about it, take for granted it will always be there. Every electronic device and hard drive will crash or die at some point. When that happens will you be prepared? If you were told your house will eventually catch on fire wouldn’t you at least get a fire safe to keep your valuable documents in? Documents and phone numbers can possibly be recreated if needed but pictures, our favorite moments frozen in time so we can always relive them, cannot be recreated. If you have a hard drive failure and you do not have a backup the pictures could be gone forever. There are some places that can recover data from a dead drive but it’s extremely expensive and I personally have had a situation where they could not get any info from the drive because it was so badly damaged. Below I’ll go over some backup options. Hopefully you will decide to be one of the cool kids and pick an option that works for you.
- iCloud – It’s simple and pretty much just works. It’s more of a syncing service so it won’t backup your whole computer but it’s a great way to have your contacts, calendar and iOS device backed up.
- External Hard Drive – This is a hard dive but it’s not internal to you computer. You usually plug them in with a USB cable. You can then use Apple’s Times Machine software that is built into all of their operating systems since 10.5. Time Machine is a great software and I have seen it save people many times. It also makes transferring data to a new Mac very easy.
- Time Capsule – This is a wireless router for your house or business and it has a hard drive built into it. You can then use the Time Machine software to backup to the Time Capsule. This is great if you have multiple computers in your house or just don’t want to worry about plugging a drive into your computer.
- Backblaze – An online backup service developed by some former Apple employees. This runs in the background on your Mac and after the 1st initial backup, it uploads data whenever it’s needed. There is a monthly fee but I think it’s very reasonable and I have been using it for the past 4 months with no issues. It even saved me once by letting me grab a file I accidentally deleted a couple days prior.
Dropbox, Google Drive, Sky Drive, etc – These cloud services work pretty much the same. They will create a folder on your computer and any file or folder you add to it will be synced to their servers. This allows you to access that data from other computers, smart phones and tablets. Some of these offer free storage but if you want a significant amount of space you will have to pay for it. Just remember that they only “backup” what is in their folder. I think these services, even the free versions, are priceless for students. Its very easy to keep school documents in a folder that syncs. Even the free versions will hold a significant amount of documents. This really helps when you spill coffee on your computer after pulling an all-nighter studying and now it won’t turn back on.
In conclusion I’d like to say that there is no one best way to back up. The best way is to make sure your data is in multiple locations. I have an external drive that I use with Time Machine and I use Backblaze. This gives me great protection. If my drive fails I can restore very fast having a local copy on my external drive. If my computer and external drive are compromised by disaster then I’m able to get my data back from Backblaze. You may be asking, why not just use Backblaze? The reason is this… On Line services are dependent on your internet connection. The first backup takes many days to complete since everything has to be uploaded. The same thing applies when restoring your data, it all has to be downloaded and that can take days. That is why Backblaze is what I like to call my emergency backup. As internet speeds get faster over the next many years this may not be an issue.
Hopefully I gave you some good options so you can create your own Backup Plan. As always if you have any questions or concerns please contact one of our locations and we will be more than willing to help you out.