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Simple Backup Strategy

(Download Backup Strategy PDF for detailed instructions.)
Updated May 2019

Executive Summary – "The Bottom Line" for Backup

Mac Users:

Option 1 – Local Disk:

(1) Buy and attach an external hard drive (1 or 2 Terabytes).
(2) Turn on the built-in "Time Machine" program. Whenever your external hard drive is plugged in, the backup will happen automatically in the background. You're backed up!
* Make sure to click the "Encrypt Backups" option so that your backup will be encrypted and thus not accessible to others if stolen.
(An alternative to using Time Machine is to purchase Acronis True Image for Macs; it has more features and options, but is not as easy to use.)

Option 2 – Cloud/Online:
(1) Purchase a subscription from one of the recommended Cloud backup vendors (listed below) and allow your Mac to be backed up continually. (Acronis True Image for Macs has a Cloud option that would allow you to backup both locally and to the Cloud.)

Windows PC Users:

Option 1 – Local Disk:
(1) Buy and attach an external hard drive (1 or 2 Terabytes).

(2) Some external hard drives come with “backup software”. If desired, you can use that software to back up your computer. Otherwise, I recommend you purchase the full-featured backup software "Acronis True Image".
Install it and either:

(a) Allow it to back up your entire system; set the schedule to backup weekly.

Or (b) turn on the "Continuous Backup" so your files are backed up as they are changed.

* Again, make sure to encrypt your backup so that it will be encrypted and thus not accessible to others if stolen.

 

Option 2 – Cloud/Online:
Purchase a subscription from one of the recommended Cloud backup vendors (listed below) and allow your Mac to be backed up continually.

Option 3 – Local Disk and Cloud:
Both “Acronis True Image” and “Carbonite” allow the option to backup both to a local disk and the Cloud for extra protection.

Recommended Cloud Backup Providers

The options listed below are all very good and secure Cloud backup providers (listed in alphabetical order). Choose what works best for you based on price and features. (The details listed here are accurate as of April 2019; please confirm before you purchase.)

NOTE: For any Online Service (including backup services), make sure to use strong/secure passwords (not shared with other online accounts) and consider turning on two-factor authentication. Data in the Cloud is more accessible than if stored locally and you want to make sure it is not accessed by unauthorized people. You should put in your own "encryption password" so only you can get to your backup information.

  1. Acronis True Image: www.acronis.com

    1. $50/year for one device for 250GB

    2. Can backup locally and in the Cloud

  2. BackBlaze: www.backblaze.com

    1. $60/year for one device for unlimited data

    2. Options to mail physical USB or Disk if a restore is needed.

  3. Carbonite: www.carbonite.com

    1. $72/year for one device for unlimited data

  4. SpiderOak One: spideroak.com/one

    1. $69/year for unlimited devices for 150GB

Online/Cloud Backup Discussion - Windows PC or Mac

An alternative to backing up your data to an external hard drive is to use an "online" or "Cloud" service.

Advantages:

  1. Software is usually easy to configure; no need to purchase anything else, just purchase a subscription, download the software, and away you go.

  2. A copy of your data is stored "offsite", at an external location. In case your computer is lost, stolen, or destroyed, you still have a backup of all your critical data.

  3. Some online services allow you to access your files from mobile devices (e.g. Smartphones, iPad, etc.) over the Internet.

Disadvantages:

  1. Be aware that backing up over an Internet connection is much slower than connecting to a local hard drive. Backing up lots of data (like photos, etc.) will take considerably longer than to a local drive. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, backing up all your data (many gigabytes) may be completely unfeasible, or at least take numerous days to complete.

  2. Restoring all your data in the event you lose your computer (or data gets lost or corrupted), may take a considerable amount of time if you have a slower internet connection or have lots of data. If that is the case, one factor in your choosing a Cloud Backup provider may be their ability to send your data to you on a flash drive or hard drive.

  3. Storing more than a few gigabytes on one of these online services may also be expensive and cost you a monthly/yearly subscription fee, as opposed to the one-time cost of your external hard drive and backup software.

  4. The online options do not backup your entire system with Programs. Although it is easy to restore a file or an entire folder, if you lose your computer or it crashes, you will need to reinstall all Programs before restoring your data.

Other Alternative Online Backup Solutions

Some online backup solutions offer free services that allow you to backup up a few gigabytes (e.g. 2 to 5) or less for free. This is not a good, comprehensive backup solution, but will allow you to keep versions of critical files easily backed up.

  • For instance, although Dropbox is not meant primarily to be a "backup" software, it is a great way to backup 2 Gigabytes online for free. However, please confirm that the security features of Dropbox match your risk profile. You can also get to these files from a website interface or have them automatically copied to (and kept in synch with) another computer – Mac or PC. (www.dropbox.com) Just be aware that if you delete these files (or they are corrupted) on your local drive, then they will be deleted from your online version (although usually older versions are available for restore).

SmartPhone (iPhone, Android), Tablet (iPad, etc.), iPod Touch:

Please be aware that if you have a SmartPhone/iPad/iPod, you should regularly back it up by synching it with your computer, backing up to the Cloud, or using a third-party utility.
iPhone: A great, free way to backup your iPhone is to sync/backup your phone to your PC/Mac through iTunes or just allow it to backup in iCloud (although you will need to purchase more iCloud storage for $12/year. (If you backup to iCloud, make sure to have a strong password on your account!)

Android: If you want to backup your Android, I suggest either Titanium Backup, MyBackup Pro, or Helium for backup (for a small cost). )See www.androidpit.com/how-to-back-up-everything-on-android for more info.)

 

* The newest version of Acronis True Image Home says that it allows you to backup all mobile devices to your local computer. I have not tried this feature yet, but if you use Acronis, you also have this feature.

* For home or small business users, for a cost, iDrive has some great features to backup your Androids/iPhones: www.idrive.com/mobile  

- I have never used it, but hear that McAfee's Mobile Security is a great security and backup program that will lock your smartphone, back it up, and allow you to track it down, or wipe it remotely if it is lost or stolen: m.wavesecure.com