If you work with computers, having backups of your data is essential. This particularly came to light recently with people testing out Apple Music and discovering that it could make a mess of your iTunes library. In fact, this happened to me!
But “luck favors the prepared” and I had backups, so this Apple Music glitch only proved to be an annoyance and not a catastrophe.
In my case, I just restored my iTunes library from my Time Machine backup. But I know far too many people that don’t even have any type of backup system in place. I’m here to help.
For best results, you want to have multiple backups.
Time Machine (or equivalent)
Time Machine is an OS X feature that once an hour backs up changed files to an external drive. It tracks changes to individual files, allowing you to get a file as it existed at a certain date. It is reasonably fast, incredibly easy and utterly painless. If you have a Mac, you need to spend $100 on an external drive and tell Time Machine to back up to it. You set it and forget it and then only use it when you need it.
I’m sure there are equivalent solutions for Windows and Linux and even 3rd party products that will do these type of backups for you, but I’m not familiar with them. Let me know in the comments what you use.
Occasionally you may want to take a manual backup before you do something big, like an OS upgrade. In this case, you may want to do a clone of your important data so that it can easily be restored in one step should something go wrong.
For these type of things, I use Carbon Copy Cloner on OS X. SuperDuper is also a good choice. Both can clone an entire drive to another drive or to a DMG file.
I also periodically do clones of drives (monthly) Just In Case.
Although not really a backup, cloud hosting services such as DropBox or OneDrive can serve as a sort of backup. These services set up a shared folder on your computer that is regularly copied to their cloud servers and replicated to other computers you have that are set up with the service. So they really serve as a syncing service. But by having the file synced to multiple devices and available in the cloud, you do get some backup protection although I would not rely on these as a sole means of backup.
Some services I’ve used:
Having on-site backups is convenient, but they are not enough. What if the drives containing the backups fail? What if there is a fire or water spills on them? So the next step is to use an actual remote backup solution. These solutions work similarly to Time Machine but instead upload your data (encrypted, of course) to remote servers.
The downside of remote backups is that they typically have a monthly fee and depending on your Internet speeds and amount of data, it could take a long time (days, weeks) to upload everything. But once the initial upload it completed, changes are uploaded quickly.
Some services I’ve used:
What Do I Currently Use?
This is what I am currently using:
- Time Machine
- Carbon Copy Cloner
In addition to those, for source control I use BitBucket and GitHub.
But it doesn’t really matter what you use, as long as your data is backed up!