Given there seems to be a day or week to celebrate or commemorate just about everything, it's not surprising that there's an annual event to remember and focus on backing up our critical data. That day is 31 March and it falls this Sunday. This seems like a good time to make sure you don't forget to get your backup ducks lined up.
Most of us only learn the importance of backups the hard way - after a data loss. For me, it was a mistake made moving some files around that resulted in losing about three months of photos from my kids' childhoods. While that was only a relatively small loss, it was enough to ensure I take steps to backup up critical files.
And a more recent incident reinforced the lesson.
Where to start
Today, we have data stored on many different devices - computers, smartphones, tablet and even watches. Then there are external drives, NAS units, USB sticks and other storage like cameras. The first port of call is working out where all your data is.
Once you have identified where all your data is, you need to find a way to back each location up.
The Backup Countdown
The generally accepted best practice for backups is the 3-2-1-0 approach. Here’s how it works.
Three – for the number of copies of your critical data you need to retain. It might sound difficult but the three copies could be the original data, a backup on a local storage device and a third copy at an offsite storage facility.
Two – for the number of different storage devices you should use. By storing your backups on two devices you aren’t left wanting if one device fails. For example, you could use a cloud service as one type of backup media and a local NAS as the other.
One – for the minimum number of copies you should keep off-site, away from your main work area. If the worst happens and your office is destroyed, having your backup wrecked makes it useless. Make sure one of those copies of your data is at a location, away from where you work.
Zero – for the number of errors your backups should contain. It’s important that you test your backup system regularly to ensure the data you’re protecting is actually safe. Also, make sure the recovery process is easy, well documented and as fast as possible.
How I do it
I'm not saying my system is perfect, but it works for me.
For mobile devices I use Acronis Mobile backup. That backs up data from my smartphone and tablet to my NAS -which has direct support for the software.
In addition, I have an iCloud backup for my mobile devices as they run iOS.
Critical work files are stored on my laptop and the desktop and synchronised to the cloud (I use OneDrive, iCloud and Google Drive depending on the files).
My MacBook Pro uses Time Machine to both an external drive and to my NAS.
What's your backup strategy? I've not used services like Crashplan or Backplane. Are any of you fans of their services or others? What works for you?