Today is World Backup TodayPosted: March 31, 2011
Today is the first ever World Backup Day, a day intended to encourage everyone with a computer to make sure their data is backed up and safeguarded against loss.
As computers and technology become more a part of both our work and personal lives, it becomes increasingly more important to secure and backup the data stored on those devices. A recent study showed that only 15% of computer users back up regularly. Don’t run the risk of losing your entire digital life to a hard drive crash or other tragedy. BACK UP!!
I recommend and follow a 2-tier backup strategy consisting of both a local and online/offsite backup solution.
1. Local Backup
Create a local backup on an external hard drive at your home or office. I have an external drive that I plug in once a week on Sunday and use SuperDuper! to make a duplicate copy of my laptop’s hard drive. If you are on a mac, I highly recommend using SuperDuper! or something similar to make a complete back up of your drive rather than just backing up selective files or folders. The advantage in this is that Apple computers allow you to boot from usb & firewire external hard drives. All you have to do is plug it in, and you’ll see your desktop from the last time you backed up. I’ll describe the importance of this later when I share my own stories.
2. Offsite Backup
So you’ve got your computer’s entire hard drive backed up locally to an external drive in your house. While this is an excellent start and you’re already ahead of probably 90% of everyone else out there, a local backup is still susceptile to theft, floods, fires, and other natural disasters and tragedies. If your house were to burn down with both your laptop and backup drive, you’d be out of luck. It’s for this reason I also recommend an offiste backup where your files are stored either online or on a physical hard drive in another location (for example at work or a friend’s house).
I far and away prefer the online backup solution as it is definitely the easiest and requires the least amount of effort. There are many online backup solutions out there but the one I use and recommend is Backblaze. It’s available for both Windows and Mac and works great at silently backing up your data. It’s fast, lightweight, encrpyted, and offers file versioning (multiple versions of files) up to 30 days. I also use Dropbox which syncs any files I’m actively working on between all of my devices and also backs them up to the cloud. This acts as a 3rd backup but only for immediacy items I’m currently working on. I’ll talk about Dropbox more in depth in a future post.
Both of these back up strategies have served me well over the years and I’d like to share some examples of their usefulness in my own life. As I mentioned above, having a local, bootable copy of your computer (especially if you’re using a mac) has it’s advantages. More than once, my laptop (my primary computer) has died on me or had to go into the shop for service for a week or longer.
Luckily, I had a local backup on an external hard drive and happen to have a mac mini in the living room as my entertainment center which also acts as a secondary computer should I need it. I hauled out the mac mini and put it on my desk, plugged in my external drive, booted from the external drive (hold down the option key when turning your computer on), and there was my laptop’s desktop with all my files and settings since my last backup. I continued to work from the backup drive throughout the week and when my laptop returned in working order, I simply booted up SuperDuper! and told it to update any files that had changed on my external drive and move them back to my laptop, and I was back in business with all my files I had worked on while the laptop was out of my possession. The local backup allowed me to continue working without a hitch.
My other story involves Backblaze, which has saved my butt numerous times. It works silently in the background so even if I forget to back up locally, chances are good that I’m covered. Backblaze also keeps different versions of files which is another great advantage.
The other day I was looking on my computer for some training documents and realized half of the files were missing from the folder. I wasn’t sure if something was lost during the transition to a new computer or if files had been lost during a sync. However, my computer had backed up to the local external drive recently which meant that if the file was missing on my computer, it was missing on my backup too.
The local backup was only 3 days old, so I figured the loss must have occured before that. I simply logged onto Backblaze and told it show me files that were backed up 1 week ago, navigated to the folder, and found all my documents! I requested those files and about 5 minutes later I had an email from Backblaze in my inbox with a link to a zip containing the missing files. Without an online backup system that saves versions of files, I’d have been out of luck in recovering those lost files.Note: Mac users can have a file versioning system like this locally by using Time Machine (built into OSX 10.5 and 10.6) in combination with an external drive or Apple Time Capsule.
So there you have it. Local backup for quick, easy access and getting back up and running as fast as possible and online backup for times when you forget to back up locally. I’ve added some notes below with additional resources. If you need help integrating any of these backup solutions, check out our services.
For Mac Users, I recommend the excellent SuperDuper! or a great (free) alternative is Carbon Copy Cloner .
For Windows Users, I recommend Acronis TrueImage for disk image backups or the free Cobian backup (requires some intermediate computer knowledge)
For Online/Offsite backup I recommend Backblaze (my favorite) with Crashplan coming in a close second. Ignore Mozy, Carbonite and others. I’ve done the research and the recommendations I’ve given here stand out from the crowd.