My Approach On Backups

Take a minute and picture this scenario. You turn on your computer tomorrow and it is completely busted. The OS won’t start up, the hard drive won’t spin and you’ll never see anything that was on there again. Would there be any pictures you might miss? Maybe an iTunes collection that’s gone? Homework? Journals? Address Books? Pretty scary huh?

Luckily, I’ve never had a computer die on me. But, I get enough calls each week from distraught people asking me if I can save their data. Usually, they had a hard drive die. But I also had a good friend who had his computer stolen and that data is just as lost. Because of my job, I have some high-end software tools to try and save data. But sometimes, it’s not possible. That is a very disheartening result for the computer owner.

Because I’ve seen so much of this first hand, I’ve been pretty serious about backup on my own machines. I have three different backup plans, each with their own purpose. I want to share my backup scheme in hopes of encouraging you to start a scheme of your own.


Full Backup Nightly: I keep a 500GB External drive attached to my machine. I chose a MyBook drive because they look good and Costco has a great deal on them. I have this drive stored in a locked drawer out of sight. Every night at 2am, my computer wakes up, uses the awesome Mac application SuperDuper! to clone the whole internal drive and then goes back to sleep. I never see this happen but get a note that lets me know it took place.

I call this my “Quick-Up” backup. If ever my machines internal drive was to die, I’d be able to boot from this external drive and be up and running again with no more than a day of data missing.

Weekly Backup: Each Friday morning, I have an email reminder from Google Calendar that tells me to “Backup my Mac.” I plug in a second external drive and use the free iBackup to copy all the things that are important to me. This includes Pictures, Music, Preferences, Mail, iTunes, finished iMovie projects, etc. iBackup makes it quick to do and consistent each week.

Once this backup is done, I take it with me to my data center and put it back on the shelf to sit for another week. This backup is my “Safe Keeping” backup. If my house went down in a fire, I’d have this data still. If someone broke into my house, took my Macs and my backup drive, I’d still have this data with a week of data missing at most.

I know not everyone has a high security data center, but keep this copy at your parents house or at your office. Anywhere outside of the home that might keep it safe

Online Backup: This could be the most simple backup at all. I use to backup my most important data.

If you sign up with, they will give you two free gigabytes of storage. This should be good for some important documents and photos. If you need more space, it’s $5/mo for unlimited storage. UNLIMITED!

The nicest thing about the service is how easy it is to set up. After signing up, you download their application. (Available in Mac or PC) Then, you run the program and choose what you want to back up. Once you are finished, the backup starts and you never have to worry about it again. It will keep your computer backed up continually. It works in the background storing all of your data safe and encrypted on their servers.

The one problem with is that your first backup will take a real long time. Sometimes a few days. This is because most internet connections have a slow “upload speed” so it takes a while to get all the data on their server.

If you don’t take any other backup steps, at least get going with the online backup at It’s simple to set up and even the free 2GB can save some of your data.

So that’s it. That’s how I keep my data backed up. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Maybe you have lost some data and now you’ve got some routines of your own?