June 27, 2014

You Only Lose Your Hard Drive Once

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Computer Backup Options

VZW Disclosure

When was the last time you backed up your phone and computer? If you opened up your computer and couldn’t access your hard drive would you panic and freak out or calmly remind yourself that you have everything on a backup? If you turned on your phone to find it has mysteriously reset itself, would you crumble to the ground in tears or head back to your computer to reload a recent backup? computer backup options

Few of us would be calm about it. Most of us would start wracking our brains to determine what’s been backed up and where that backup is located. If Facebook and Twitter updates are reviewed, hard drive crashing happens more often than we think. Yet, most of us don’t think it will happen to us.computer backup options

I’m here to tell you it does. And when it does, there’s a level of panic most of us don’t know how to stop from completely taking over. Even if there is a backup, somehow our minds don’t automatically go there.computer backup options

So when I plugged in my Drobo external drive and I couldn’t see the drives it took several deep breaths not to totally freak out. I thought I was doing the right thing and having a backup. I thought I was smart to have this super high-tech drive to backup my computer, tablets, and phones. I have 6 Terabytes of storage. I have enough space to backup my entire neighborhood and still have space for a few other friends.

But these days, having just one backup isn’t enough. Redundancy is an important word in all of this. Today we need to take similar precautions as any small business. Because if one day all our photos are gone, we’ll probably hyperventilate and freak out simultaneously. What are the options though? Do we entrust our files to some random company or this thing called “the cloud” or a drive that sits on our desk or we store in a fireproof safe. And what do each of these really offer to us?

External Hard Drive – With 1T external hard drives available for under $70 this option is easy. I have a “pro-level” storage and backup solution, a Drobo. But it’s not for everyday access, it really is a true data redundancy system. And it sits on my desk, unconnected. (At least I’ve done a few backups, right?) Owning an external drive and using it are not one and the same. Evidently, we need to take steps to set up a schedule to connect it to our computer and transfer the files. The magical backup fairies don’t seem to be real. Sure, we can set up reminders, but how many times have you dismissed these reminders because they become annoying.computer backup options

Cloud Backup – There are so many options out there, it’s hard to know which ones are good. It’s only after realizing that my external hard drive was inaccessible that I thought about this option. Fortunately, a very good friend on mine runs an IT company and suggested Backblaze off-site backups. I figured that if it’s good enough for his company and clients then it’s good enough for me. And at $5 a month it’s a no-brainer. It does take a while to do the initial backup of your entire system, but it’s necessary.computer backup options

Cloud Storage – You’ve heard of Dropbox, Skydrive, and Box, right? Or perhaps you have iCloud or Verizon Cloud. These are cloud storage options, not really backups. While they’re relatively safe, these don’t really have the built-in redundancies and protocols to protect your data. These are great options, but with the amount of space you’ll need for ALL your files it can get expensive. One great way to use these cloud storage options is with a service called IFTTT (which stands for If This Then That). With IFTTT you can automate some of your storage and backup needs. For example, you can create a recipe that will send your photos from Instagram to Dropbox or Google Drive or Evernote. In general, though, cloud storage is not a viable option for a true backup.computer backup options

There are many different things you may want to back up besides your photos and documents. You may want to back up your applications or even your entire system. Those things get very large and can take quite a bit of time. But, it’s something to consider.computer backup options

When it comes to backing up your information, redundancy is key. Having multiple backups is important too. For me, when my external drive “crashed” I knew that CycleGuy had another backup on another external drive. While it wasn’t recent and only had about 90% of my files and photos, it prevented the total meltdown upon realizing I have over 30,000 photos in iPhoto. And for most of us, losing our photos is probably one of the most difficult things we’d have to come to terms with when dealing with a drive crashing or becoming inaccessible.

Keep in mind that as technology changes, you may need to change your backups. I have CDs with photos going back to the late 1990s. I also have Zip disks and 3.5″ floppy disks, both of which have “important” information on them but are totally worthless to me. Yet, I still have them.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Insider team. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

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