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Title: Back that thing up.

Welcome to befogs! I’m not really sure how to tackle posts here. I’d prefer to start simple, and will go from there in the future. I’m likely to handwrite the entire site, just for fun and experience. I contemplated the idea of writing this entire blog in Vi, but I’m not that big of a masochist. Because of this, posts and updates are likely to be somewhat awkward. I likely will not have an RSS feed, and don’t intend on keeping a very regular schedule. I am thinking about having some sort of update system, either through email or Twitter, or something like that. If you’re interested in receiving these, email me.

Now on to the meat and potatoes, and for this post, I want to talk a bit about backups. We all know that we’re suppose to backup regularly? But at the end of the day, do we actually do it? Based on the number of panicked emails, phone calls, and text messages I receive on this issue (about one a month or so, not an epidemic but more than I’d like), I’d venture to say that not as many of my friends have a proper backup plan as I’d like. How much would you value the bytes on your laptop right now? The photos from a few years ago, the term papers due in a week, past tax forms and other personal documents, music collection, etc?

When devising a backup strategy, it’s important to remember that when it comes to data duplication, “two is one and one is none”. That is to say, if the only backup you have is a single Time Machine disk sitting on an external hard-drive on your desk and connect once or twice per week, you do not have a backup strategy, as a failure on that single drive means that you no longer have an extra copy of your data.

“But drives rarely ever fail! If my backup drive ever fails, becomes corrupt, or breaks, I’ll just go and get a new one. The data’s still on my laptop anyways.”

That’s great, until your apartment catches on fire or floods. Or you spill that beer you probably shouldn’t have had on your desk while watching Netflix, ruining computer and laptop at the same time. Traveling for work and the airline loses the bag that has your laptop and drive? Murphy’s law 101 here.

So what’s the best strategy? General best practice is to have three (yes, three) backups of your data. One backup should be always connected and running via a USB external drive or other local solution, think a Time Machine drive. The second should also be local, and connected once per week or so to get the latest backup using something like Time Machine (a great Monday morning welcome back to work!). Finally, the third backup should always be off-site, preferably a cloud service (although data security can be an issue) like Backblaze, CrashPlan, or Arq.

“Alright then, you’ve convinced me. So what’s your personal backup strategy?”

I’m glad you asked. Personally, I do the following:

On my MacBook Pro:

On my VPS (CentOS 6.4 on DO):

On my iPhone and iPad:

So these are my personal backup methods. I admit that at times, I am probably a bit overprotective, specifically with photos. If it makes you feel any better, I used to have a CrashPlan account as well, but their client was a bit messy and I feel pretty confident with my current setup. With respect to photos, the reason I have so many backups is because, I find them to be a very difficult item to track and protect because you usually take photos and then forget about them, up until the point where you want to share them or look back at them. So with my current setup, I have a handful of places they are stored, so that no photos are lost if I get a new phone, re-install iOS, have a backup fail, etc.

“That seems way, way too complex for me. What would you recommend as the cheapest and easiest thing I can do to solve the backup problem.”

Good question. If you’re still reading at this point, you probably find your data to be pretty valuable, so here is what I suggest:

There are a couple of caveats here with my advice, and I want to outline them here below. I would suggest the above to almost everyone I know, but if the following catches your eye/interest, read and do some research:

I hope this quick explanation of what I do for my personal backups has helped give you a few ideas on how you can better protect your data. If you have any questions, shoot me an email, I’m happy to help!