BACKUPS! You need these.
I hate losing my wallet. I can't stand losing my keys. And the only thing OK about losing my phone is that I can usually call it and find it by running around the house listening for the ringing. But just about everything I can lose in real life is replaceable. Not so for pictures and some files on my computer, which is why I'm blogging about backups today.
We're typically really bad about backing up important files and it's a shame because the process can be easy. I recommend to clients first to consider what's important to them about a backup: do they want versioning, in which one can essentially go back in time to a specific date or time, or do they only care to be able to restore something in case of deletion or loss. This is the choice between a solution which is more complex (pricey) or simpler.
In general, you want three copies of your computer. (the old saying goes: two is one and one is none) One copy of your data is, of course, your computer's internal hard drive. The second copy is a backup you can keep around the house, and the third copy needs to be someplace else. It's never nice to think about, but if your house floods or burns you might lose your computer and your local backup and this is why you'll want something off site.
In the old days, it was easy enough to plug in a thumb drive or external USB drive and copy the important files to this external drive but this offers a few problems. Those cheap drives break often, they may live in your house with you and never get off site, typically only get used infrequently and are probably insecure. So our modern backup solution needs to be reliable (even SSDs have a finite write-limit), away from your computer, automatic (i.e. they run constantly or overnight), and encrypted.
So from easy to involved, here are my typical recommendations for a good, secure backup:
- Carbonite - Simple, offsite, effective & encrypted but not the most affordable. (About $60 per year) Will slow your computer a little.
- Apple iCloud - Despite Apple's frequent missteps in cloud computing, this time they've got a pretty well-rounded solution. I pay about $1 per month for 50GB. Easy and they cover my Contacts, Notes, Music, etc.
- Google Photos - This is better than just a backup plan as Google offers great features: they will automatically combine pictures from a trip, weekend, event, etc into an album, offer tasteful filters and animations, and the best, most amazing search features ever. I can search by topics, location, almost anything. With my voice! I can ask to see my pictures of cars, babies, dogs, whatever. Oh, and it's free for an unlimited number of pictures up to 16MB. If you're a serious photographer, Google offers paid storage for your original sized pictures. (I use the free one)
- Google Drive / Dropbox - Free for small amounts of storage. Your files are automatically replicated to the cloud (offsite) and you can always redownload them onto a new device. Also, and maybe more importantly, functions as a nice collaborative tool. For either of these services, you keep your important files in the protected folders... Other folders on your computer aren't backed up.
- External drive with an automatic backup, like Apple's Time Capsule - This can be your local copy of the data and easily does versioning. This means if your computer gets a virus on Wednesday, you can roll back to Tuesday's backup and restore from there.
- Super Duper - For imagine a hard drive for hardcore users, nothing beats Super Duper. You'll still need something offsite but this is quick and handy.
Thanks for reading; let me know what you think by commenting below!