May22 | 2014
categories: Tips & Tricks, Tutorial | tags: , , ,

The Best Way To Backup Your Data

Backup your data. These are words we hate hearing – especially when they’re coming from our computer-savvy friend we called in a panic because our hard drive crashed and they ask if we’ve been doing so (we haven’t).

Why do we have such a problem with keeping our data safe? Is it too expensive? Is it extra responsibility? Heck, we lock our doors at night, we have safe-deposit boxes, we even use apps to help us use more secure passwords! Why can’t we get the hang of backing up our important data?

Let’s put all the questions to bed. I’m going to share with you how I backup, throw in alternative solutions and hopefully, you’ll never have to call your computer-savvy friend to retrieve content on a hard drive that’s long gone, again.

Backing up to an external hard drive. Most of us probably have an external hard drive lying around. If you don’t, go get one. That’s an order.

These days, external hard drives are ridiculously cheap (like, under $100) consideriong much storage you get. Most are small and wallet-sized and will plug right into your computer’s USB port.

How to backup. If you’re using a Mac, use Time Machine. It will automatically backup the contents of your computer onto your external hard drive as soon as you plug it in.

The good news? Free backup app. The bad news? You have to remember to plug in your hard drive.

This is where people can get into trouble. They forget, something bad happens to their hard drive and then, important stuff is lost. Hint: I have a weekly reminder on my iPhone that tells me it’s Backup Day.

If you’re looking for a wireless option, check out Apple’s Time Capsule. Time Capsule is your home’s wireless router and a wireless external hard drive, all-in-one. This means you never have to plug anything in to be backed up. Just be connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network and let Time Capsule do the rest.

The good news? Easy, wireless backup. Bad news? It’s pricey. Time Capsule is $299-$399 for 2TB-3TB.

For PC users, most external hard drives come with their own backup utility you can install and run, similar to Time Machine.

Off-site backup. “Backing up your data, off-site.” That sounds super techy and really expensive, right? Quite the contrary.

I use an online backup service called Backblaze - it’s $5/month.

Take a moment to re-read that last part. Five dollars per month. Even the most frugal of budgeters can work with that. Just saying. Back to the fun stuff.

Backblaze runs quietly in the background on your computer, securely backing up the contents of your hard drive to secure, encrypted servers. If you ever need to restore your computer (and don’t have an external hard drive copy), you can restore from Backblaze’s website, or they will gladly send you a DVD or USB thumb drive of your hard drive.

Similar options: Carbonite ($60/year) and CrashPlan ($6/month).

These two methods (external hard drive and off-site) are pretty sufficient for keeping your computer updated, but don’t forget about your iPhone, iPad, smartphone or tablet.

We use these devices just as much, and sometimes more, than our computers and they hold just as important information: photos of our family and friends, music, videos, passwords, bank information, emails and documents, etc. Gotta keep this stuff safe, too.

For those of you using iOS devices, check out Apple’s iCloud backup. It’ll run whenever your iOS device is plugged in to charge and connected to Wi-Fi (won’t eat up your data plan), and backs up anything stored on your device. Your iCloud account comes included with 5GB of free iCloud storage, but if you’re like me and you take a lot of iPhone photos or have multiple iOS devices or buy a lot of movies and TV shows, that 5GB can fill up quick. You can upgrade iCloud storage (for an annual price) in your iCloud settings on your device.

Another online storage solution that doesn’t involve our favorite produce company is Dropbox. Dropbox lets you sync photos and files on your computer or smartphone up to Dropbox to be available on other devices signed into that Dropbox account. Good for an extra photo backup or for documents, but I wouldn’t use it for my entire backup system. Also, if you find you need more storage from Dropbox, paid storage plans are available.

Look at that! You’ve got a plethora of options that will keep you backed up and covered when you’re at home, on the go, or anywhere, really. And, bonus, most of them won’t break your bank – but, having a dead hard drive restored will.

If you found any of these tips useful, or if you have other options you’ve used and love (or hate), let me know! ^Miles

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