Are You Backing Up?

I recently read an article that someone is suing Apple because their Time Capsule failed and in doing so, caused him to lose photos of the birth of his child. Don’t get me wrong, but in the end it’s something that people need to start thinking about in the age where everything we do anymore is digital.

My mom has a digital camera and a MacBook Pro. I even insisted she get a Time Capsule to back it up without thinking about it, but do you know what she does with photos she really wants to keep? She prints them out. In the end everything electronic is going to fail eventually. Having a hard copy of photos is just one way to be sure memories aren’t lost. My mom learned that the hard way when the digital photo frame I gave her for Christmas a few years ago stopped turning on.

Ok, so you don’t want to print out every photo, and you may not want them forever. You also have thousands of songs and the thought of putting them all on CD-Rs is just a bit too nostalgic, what do you do? Make regular, redundant backups. Most people I know don’t back anything up, so even one backup is an improvement, but having more than one will save you when a device fails, or disaster strikes.

When I was in college one of my professors said that offsite backups should be at least 30 miles away. Then, in the event of natural disaster or nuclear war (he was very serious) your data has a good chance of surviving. Ok, so you finally decided to backup your phone, and you’re backing up important files, or ideally your whole computer on a regular basis to an external drive, but what about the whole redundant part?

One way to get redundancy is to back up to a storage device that’s using at least RAID 1, so if one disk fails, the other(s) should still be ok. This is what I plan to upgrade to at some point in the future, hopefully before my current Time Capsule bites the dust. Anyway, backup disk arrays with multiple physical disks are fine and dandy, but what if your house burns down, or gets hit by lightning, or is flooded, or a school bus hits it? That’s where the offsite storage option is a lifesaver.

There are tons of options out there to back up your data online. Some are free, some come with a modest (and sometimes not so modest) fee. Personally, I use Dropbox to backup some key files that are important to me. It’s free for a 2GB account (if you use this affiliate link to sign up we both get an extra 500MB, free), is compatible with Mac, Linux, Windows, iOS and Android and well, it just works. Files in my Dropbox folder are automatically backed up, and one really cool feature that has saved me more than once is the ability to go to past versions of a file. Even if you accidentally deleted it.

So go ahead. Take a little bit of time to back up your digital life, at home, in the cloud, and even at your local photo printing place.

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