Baby Got Back(up)

I’d like to write about something very close to my heart (it’s not babies): the art of backing up your stuff.

Some of the particular programs we’ll reference later are platform specific, but the principles here ought to apply to anyone with a computer. If you’re a non-Mac user, hang tight and hopefully Jason will be able to answer your specific backup needs in a future post.

Let’s get right down to it.

You need to backup your stuff

Which brings me to my second point.

You don’t think you need to backup your stuff, but you do

A good backup, like fire insurance, is something you hope you never ever have to use. Also, like fire insurance, a good backup keeps you sane, safe, and protected when something terrible happens. Which brings me to point three.

You may not think you have much worth protecting, but you do

I spent a fair amount of high school screwing around with Linux on my computer. I can’t count the number of times I formatted my hard drive or the number of precious songs I was into in high school that I now no longer have (may your cowboy twang Rest in Peace, “Don’t Tell Me” by Madonna). So, let’s put first things first.

How do we think about backing up our stuff?

All there really is to backing up is simply making additional copies of your important data and putting them in other places. At the core of it, that’s it. You want to have more than one copy of your data, you want those copies to be in safe places, and you want to be able to access them in the event of an emergency. So, while there are tons of fancy-pants tools and and programs to help you back up your data, they’re all doing essentially the same thing: helping you make copies of your data.

Some important things to remember when thinking about backup

I’m not an industry expert, but I have picked up a few things along the way that you can think of as guiding principles when it comes to backing up.

  • Redundancy – If you can, have more than one backup system: back up to multiple drives (we’ll talk about this later) and keep multiple copies.
  • Frequency – The more often you back up the more you’ll love yourself, because your data will be more recent in the event of an emergency.
  • Spread – This one is really redundancy with a geopgraphic twist. You want to have backups in more than one physical location. Say, for example, that your former romantic partner decides that Kyle Rayner is the worst Green Lantern even though you think he’s the best Green Lantern (he is) and gets Effigy to set fire to your apartment. If both your computer and your backups were in that apartment, you’re still toast no matter how diligently you backed up.

Come on back tomorrow for my first Mac backup guide. If your computer dies between now and then and you lose all of your data. I’m sorry.

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