Today is World Backup Day, a holiday that celebrates the task we all know we should be doing, but one that's way too easy to ignore — until your hard drive starts to grind or your phone decides to go for a swim. Lucky for you, World Backup Day falls on a Saturday this year. You've got the time. Now let's back up that data.
We've covered backup from virtually every angle, and for every platform. Think of this post as the index for all your backup needs.
Priority One: Your Computer
First, let's start with the big one: Your computer.
Whether you're a Windows, Mac, or Linux user, here's our recommended method of backing up your computer. This post will help you back up your hard drive both locally (so you can quickly get back up and running if anything goes awry) and off-site (so that if your computer's stolen or your house burns down you can still get your data back).
If you want to beef up your on-site backups, you may also want to look into how to turn your old computer into a network-backup machine with FreeNAS.
Priority Two: Your Phone
Already got your computer backed up. Congrats, redundancy pro! You deserve a badge! Now let's turn to that other device with storage you count on daily: Your phone. This section is divvied into iPhone and Android backup options.
First, for the iPhone crowd:
You already know that iTunes backs up your phone when you plug your iPhone into your computer and sync, so that's kind of a no-brainer. But if you really want to back up that iPhone and you don't mind jailbreaking, you've got an even better option:
This guide will walk you through how to fully back up your iOS device's data and do so wirelessly and automatically. Here's how it works.
Oh, and even if you decide you only want to back up your iOS device using the default iTunes route, you may want to keep two things in mind: First, make sure you back up that back up. If you're already backing up your computer (remember that backup method we linked to above?), then you're already on top of this.
Second, you may want to consider encrypting your iPhone backups with iTunes. Doing so means you won't have to re-enter your passwords in the event you have to restore your device at a later date.
Now for the Android crowd:
In an ideal world, your Android's apps, their settings and your system settings would automatically back up to the cloud so that if you lost your phone, bought a new one, or installed a new custom ROM, setting up a fresh device with everything in place would be a piece of cake. That's not how it works by default, which is why we've detailed how to set up a fully automated app and settings backup on Android. Do it!
If you're backing up like a champ, it'll be exceptionally easy to upgrade to a new phone and take all your data with you. Good times.
Priority Three: Your Email
Most of us have had our email accounts for years, which means your inbox is more than just a tool you use to communicate daily; it's also a shoebox of digital memories. So back up those memories, already!
If your inbox suddenly went blank, where would you turn? This post walks through how to back up your Gmail the cheap and easy way, but many of the methods therein also apply to any email account, whether or not it's Google powered.
Priority Four: Back Up Your Webapps
In many ways, the web is a great place for your data. Most serious web companies follow a considerably more rigorous data backup and redundancy strategy than you do. That said, the world's not perfect. A service might shut down overnight, or one website might not be taking backup as seriously as they should. Here's how to protect your data in the event of a webapp shutdown or other data loss. Basically how to back up that business.
Priority Five: Games And Media
If you've already got your most important data backed up, you may want to turn to less mission-critical forms of data — for example, your video games and media.
For starters, let's take a look at all those Blu-rays:
Blu-Ray may be majestic, but it also has more copy protection than any other format around and playing it on your computer can be difficult to impossible. Here's how to rip and back them up.
If you'd simply like to get rid of your old-school DVDs, hit up our step-by-step guide to ripping a DVD to your computer.
Lastly, let's back up those video games. Unfortunately it's not as easy to back up your games in a playable fashion across consoles, but we have covered some great options for Nintendo lovers.
First, our guide to backing up and playing Wii games from an external hard drive lets you keep expensive discs out of harms way, decrease game load times and organise your collection with swanky cover art.
Finally, you can also hack your Nintendo DS for easy backups and even play a handful of great games from one simple cartridge.
Got a backup strategy you swear by? Did we miss some important piece of data? Let's hear about it in the comments.