Saturday, June 1, 2013

Backing Up: Just do it!

So, a friend of mine recently posted a sobering photo on facebook.

This, my friends, happens.

As do viruses, malware, trojans, sneaky pop-up windows in your browser that do unexpected things (like execute a program when you click on the "Cancel" button because they're coded backwards to trick you), phishing emails, and identity theft.

I want to help.

Today, we're going to talk about backups.  There are a million different ways to lose your data.  And I mean ALL of your data.  Your photos, your email, journals, ebooks, documents, any- and everything you keep on your computer.

A pretty decent option is a local backup.  Usually an external drive, connected to your computer via USB cable.  I'm out of touch on Windows, but with my Mac, there's a lovely no-maintenance backup program called Time Machine.  I just open the Time Machine program, point it to the external drive in a finder window (like Windows Explorer), and I'm done.

Even better is a cloud-based internet backup service.  It keeps your info up to date, doesn't melt when your house burns down (or lightning strikes), and is very reasonably priced.

Imho, the very best approach is a local backup, as outlined above, and an off-site backup.  You can do this two ways. One is having two external drives and swapping them out periodically, keeping the spare somewhere else.  A friend's house, work, or (in extreme cases) a safe deposit box.  That satisfies the "what if my house burns down" type of scenario, but it's klunky, takes a fair bit of memory work on your part, and your off-site drive is only as up to date as your last swap.  My favorite way to maintain off-site backups is to have an online service.  We use Backblaze, and have been supremely happy with it.  The first backup takes a few days cranking in the background, but once your computer is backed up initially, it updates the backups every hour.  Even Vern, who has a lot of data that changes on his machine daily, doesn't notice it.  Granted, this only works if you have a reasonable, non-cellular internet connection.  Cable, microwave, and DSL all work.

If I had to choose just one backup method, I would choose Backblaze, or a similar service.

Now, go get something set up, and don't wail if you get burned for not doing it. ;o)