ProfHacker writes a lot about backing things up. (Viz. “A Few Ways to Back Up Your Website.” “Prof. Hacker Reviews: CloudBerry Online Backup.” “Backup for Back-to-School.” “Stop E-Mailing Files to Yourself.” “Syncplicity: Syncing More than a Folder.”) And here’s another post, albeit a quick one, to encourage you to set aside some time to review your backup strategy. Spring is a great time to do such a review, because you can peg it to an annual rite: the onset of Daylight Saving Time, filling out your NCAA bracket, or even doing your taxes. (Because fiddling with your offsite backup is still better than doing taxes, right?)
This month’s reminder is brought to you courtesy of John Gruber and Merlin Mann, both of whom have excellent advice for automated, redundant, and regularly-rotated backups. It all started, as these stories often do, with a crash. Thanks to Gruber’s obsessive backup practices, however, he was able to reconstitute his startup disk with very little hassle. That led Mann to formulate the following general rule (his emphasis):
Perform automated, redundant, and rotated backups as often as you can afford to lose every single bit of information that’s been changed or added since your last backup. Because it’s going to go away.
Between them, Gruber and Mann agree on the following advice:
- One backup isn’t enough. You should have several. You might not need everything backed up multiple times–but certainly anything you regard as critical or irreplaceable should be.
- One place isn’t enough. What if there’s a fire? What if you’re robbed? You can handle this by rotating hard drives off-site (keeping a copy at work, or at a friend’s, or in–god help you!–a safety-deposit box), or by using a cloud-based service like DropBox or BackBlaze or Mozy.
- Manual isn’t enough. You need something that saves automatically, preferably with versioning. (DropBox, again, is your friend.)
- Condition yourself to swapping out your drives regularly.
I use a combination of Time Machine (to an external hard drive), BackBlaze, and DropBox. Important photos are moving to Flickr, if they’re not there already. Most of my teaching stuff is online already.
As Mann says, the most important thing about backing up is to start. And here’s his quick, 1-second tip to get started: “But, for now, right this second: go Gmail your kid’s baby pictures to yourself. Do it.”
What’s your backup regimen?
Image by Flickr user stargazer95050 / Creative Commons licensed