There are many ways to lose important files from your devices: hard drive crashes, viruses, physical damage to your computer by drops or spills, theft and the list goes on. Think of everything you have stored on your computer—personal items that mean a lot to you like photos of your children and family, songs that you've recorded in GarageBand, all of your friend's phone numbers and email addresses, or that book you've been writing for three years. What would happen if you lost all of these... not to mention work files, taxes or legal paperwork stored on your computer? If you really think about it, losing your files could be a disaster!
While it is possible to retrieve data in some cases, this is an expensive option that can be easily avoided by following a simple backup system. Don't put off backing up—start today, right now, read this article and then map out your plan to safeguard your files. And..try not to be overwhelmed by all of this...start with the local backup and go from there. One backup is certainly better than no backup!
We recommend a three-part plan for backing up:
- Local backup
- Off-site backup
- Internet backup
Time Machine is super easy to use and it’s already on your computer, built right into OS X. All you have to do is plug an external hard drive into your Mac and OS X will ask you if you want to use it as a Time Machine Backup. Click "Use as Backup Disk" and there you have it—you are backing up!
Once the backup is complete put your special backup hard drive in a safe place and create a recurring reminder to plug it in at least once a week. If you forget to backup then Time Machine will alert you that you haven’t backed up in 10 days, 20 days and so on. If you have a desktop computer you might consider leaving the backup hard drive connected all the time. You never know when you are going to create a masterpiece you couldn’t bear to lose. Should the unthinkable happen, you’d have an exact duplicate of your computer from the date of your last backup that you can easily use to restore your computer.
Another option is to purchase a Time Capsule. In addition to backing up your own computer, a Time Capsule acts as a network access point and can backup all the Macs on your home network via Time Machine. This will eliminate the step of having to remember to plug in your backup machine because it automatically backs up your Macs whenever they're connected to the network. Time Capsule is actually a router with a hard drive inside that stores your backups. At home, we Geeks use a Time Capsule to backup our laptops. Even though it’s not that difficult to connect an external hard drive, being human, most of us tend to forget to do it often enough. Enter the Time Capsule to save us from ourselves. As long as you are on your home network (which you would most always be) it will be able to backup every time you go online at home.
In addition to regular Time Machine backups it's a good idea to have an additional external hard drive backup that is stored off-site at a location different from where the original data is—your home or office. Consider what would happen if there was a fire or flood in your home and both your computer and your Time Capsule or external hard drive were damaged. Everything would be lost even though you had a backup!
Create a second external hard drive backup and store it at a friend's house, put it in your glove compartment of your car or perhaps at work. Be sure to create a reminder to update this backup at least once a month. While you might miss a month's worth of data, it's better than losing absolutely everything.
CrashPlan only backs up a computer, which may be all that you need. CrashPlan has great encryption compared to competitors, their upload and download speeds are good, and they offer family plans for multiple computers, plus a yearly discounted rate or a monthly subscription.
Dolly Drive is similar to CrashPlan except it offers additional features such as file sharing and synching between Macs. You can access your files from your iPhone or iPad as well. Dolly Drive is like having both CrashPlan and Dropbox through one service. If you have a small business, Dolly Drive is a great solution because it offers a subscription package that allows you to backup all of your computers and restore your entire system with Applications, settings, and files in place. Here's an in-depth comparison of CrashPlan and Dolly Drive.
Please note: Cloud-based/Online backups should NOT be your ONLY backup source. Restoring from an online backup can take days to complete, depending on the amount of data. Also, if you haven't set up your account to back up your entire system, you will lose your Applications and some user settings. This is why it is imperative to have a local backup using Time Machine!
Now that you've read this...
Ready? Set? Backup!
A Geek is always on hand to assist you if you would like some help setting up your backup plan.
Software included as part of OS X that, once connected to an external hard drive, will automatically back up your computer on a regular basis.
A router with a hard drive that will back up all of your computers connected to your network automatically using Time Machine.