Back to Basics: Backup


Happy belated Pi Day!

We are often asked to recommend backup strategies. There's no one-size-fits-all solution, so here's our best call as of today (after a LOT of research).  Hope it's helpful.

Backup: Why


Is there anything on your computer you would hate to lose? Family photos, financial stuff, the draft of your novel?  

Are you backing up? How? Where? (Remember: iCloud and Dropbox are NOT true backup). 

Protect yourself. It shouldn't take more than fifteen minutes, as this detailed article explains. Have a backup strategy that covers you when (not if!) your computer crashes or the upstairs neighbor lets the bathtub overflow. 

Backup: How

Every backup plan requires two things: a place for the backup to be stored, and software to perform the backup. Ideally, you should have both LOCAL storage (fast and easy to retrieve information) and ONLINE ("cloud") storage in cases where the problem affects your local storage as well (a fire, ransomware). Backups should require minimal effort, be secure and make it easy to recover in a crisis.

It's just four steps:

1. Figure out how much storage space you'll need

 (here's how for both Mac and Windows).

2. Pick a cloud backup service

Free: If you don't have a lot to back up (less than 2 GB total), Mozy Free is easy to use and works really well. If you have 2-<5 GB,  iDrive has a free plan although it's a little less intuitive. 

Paid: Lots of data, one computer: Backblaze is a top-rated service for ease of use and unlimited storage at a reasonable price ($50/year). However, be aware that if you accidentally delete something on your computer, it will also be deleted from your backup after 30 days.  And the simplicity means fewer features and less control.

If you have multiple computers to back up, or want more features, iDrive gets the nod (and PC Magazine Editor's Choice). they don't offer an unlimited plan, but among other advantages, deleted files are kept until YOU decide to dump them.  

3. Buy a storage drive


that's at least double the capacity of the number you got in step 1.

If you have more than one computer to back up, or you don't want the drive plugged in to your computer all the time, consider Network Attached Storage, or NAS.

4. Set up local backup

time machine.jpg

If you have a Mac, set up Time Machine to work with the external drive.

If Windows, the same software you're using for cloud storage can manage your local backup IF you have a paid plan, otherwise use the backup software that came with the drive or the un-user-friendly but free built-in Windows Backup (instructions here for Windows 10, here for 7/8.1). 
That's it! Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have questions.

Alison Holtzschue
and the computers dot mom team

Note: recommendations are always based SOLELY on what we believe is best based on our research, but some links may be affiliates.