How to Back Up Everything
Computers fail. Phones get lost. Devices break. Mistakes happen. There are a dozen good reasons to back up your files. Here are 6 ways to do so:
External Hard Drives
An external hard drive is a storage medium that exists separate from your computer. You plug it into the wall and then connect it to your computer via USB. It doesn’t need to be a special branded thing like Apple’s Time Capsule (although those work great). You can even buy a hard drive and hard drive enclosure separately and put them together yourself. All you really need from an external hard drive is enough space to store what you want to store.
Internet Backup Services
Some companies offer data backup services over the internet. These include iDrive, Acronis True Image, BackBlaze, and SOS Online Backup. These work similarly to backing up to an external hard drive in that these services back up your whole computer. The difference is that your data will be at their facility instead of your house. Typically, these services cost $20 to $50 per year.
You can also use cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive to back up your files. These services are free to begin with but cost money if you want more space. Though using cloud services is like using internet backup services in that your data is stored elsewhere on a company’s server, there are differences. While internet backup services are designed to back up everything, cloud storage services are more like storage lockers you can put things in and share with others.
Chances are you’d back up your entire computer using a service like BackBlaze. That way if your entire computer was stolen, you’d restore every single thing, from files to programs to your OS, onto your new computer from BackBlaze. By contrast, you’re more likely to use something like Dropbox to store important pictures and documents. In that scenario, if you had your laptop stolen, you’d install the new OS that comes with the new computer, reinstall programs onto your new one from disks or your online accounts with the program makers, and then retrieve your valuable files from Dropbox.
When possible, automate. It’s better for your stuff to just be backed up without you thinking about it than for it to be only backed up when you take a minute to do it yourself. It’s easy to forget or neglect backing up, and the longer you go between backups, the more you can lose.
Off-Site & Multiple Backups
As easy as it is to back up to an external hard drive, what happens if the hard drive fails, there’s water damage, or there’s an electrical surge? The disaster that ruins your computer and makes you need a backup could ruin your backup. That’s why it’s good to have an off-site backup.
Of course, things can go wrong with your off-site backup. Your internet connection could fail at a critical moment, the service you use could malfunction or go out of business, or you could accidentally delete something from your backup. That’s why it’s good to have multiple backups.
Smartphones are designed to be easy to back up, either to a dedicated cloud service or to your computer.
If you’re using an iPhone, go to Settings, then your name, then iCloud, then iCloud Backup. Here, you can toggle iCloud Backup to On. Your entire phone will be backed up to iCloud constantly. If you need to restore a backup, it’s as simple as tapping Back Up Now. You can also back up your iPhone to your computer using iTunes.
If you’re using an Android, you need to go to System, then Backup. Here you can select your backup service, such as Google Drive. Note that Samsung phones offer their own backup service, which is free.