You’ve heard about it. It may have even happened to you. Your hard drive crashed and you lost all of your data, including your iTunes library and your photos. And there’s my favorite – the frantic messages from people via email or Facebook who lost their phone and, hence, their contacts:
I left my phone in a cab and I lost all my contacts. PLEASE email me or send me a private message on Facebook with your phone number, even if you think I already have it!!!
There are several solutions to preventing said tragedies, but this post details what I do to securely cover my ass with contacts, calendars and data on my desktop Mac Pro, my MacBook Pro and my iPhone.
Time Machine is a basic must-have for any Mac user. It is a Mac OS X application that uses a dedicated external storage drive to continually back up the entire computer: photos, music, video, documents, applications… everything.
The initial Time Machine backup can take many hours or even days, depending on the amount of stuff on the computer. (My laptop’s initial backup took place overnight, and my desktop took a day or so.) After the initial backup, Time Machine automatically backs up any changes to the entire system of each machine every hour.
The folks at Apple recommend that the backup storage drive I use for Time Machine have twice the capacity of the amount of data being backed up. Attached to my AirPort wireless router, I have a dedicated 1 TB (terabyte) Time Machine backup drive backing up my MacBook Pro wirelessly. I have a 2 TB Time Machine backup drive attached to my Mac Pro desktop computer.
Time Machine has the added benefit of virtually enabling me to “go back in time” if I ever accidentally delete a file that I didn’t mean to trash. It stores time-stamped versions of files stored over however much time the backup drive can afford to preserve. So if I make changes to a document, but then realize I want the version I had two days ago, Time Machine has me covered.
For my purposes, Time Machine is almost perfect. Its fatal flaw is that I’m still screwed if my apartment has a fire or theft. For that, I have Backblaze…
Backblaze is a “cloud” backup service that continuously and securely backs up everything except the operating system, applications, or temporary files. I’m not worried about the operating system or the applications, since I purchased legitimate licensed copies of all of my software, all recoverable from the provider.
Like Time Machine, the initial backups can take quite a bit of time. But since the backups are happening over the internet, the initial backup with Backblaze takes much longer. The initial backup of my laptop took two weeks. The backup of my desktop computer, which has over 1 TB of stuff on it, is still in progress. The Backblaze control panel in System Preferences enables me to adjust the “throttle” of the backup, i.e. the amount of bandwidth and speed being used by the backup, or leave it on “Automatic Throttle.” When I’m working, I can manually turn the throttle down or leave it on automatic.
The backups are encrypted and securely sent over an encrypted connection. All of this happens continuously in the background while I work. No thinking is required. When I make a change, Backblaze records it and backs it up, similar to Time Machine (but without backing up the applications or the operating system).
If I ever need to recover my data due to a system crash, theft, fire, whatever, Backblaze will provide me with my backup of my stuff in a storage drive or DVD.
Backblaze offers unlimited backup for $5.00/month. I purchased a package of two years of unlimited backup storage for both of my computers for $200.00. I’m a happy customer.
Apple’s iCloud is an automatic and pretty effortless service that comes free with iOS 5. It syncs and maintains identical copies of my contacts and calendars on my laptop, desktop, iPhone, iPad and online. When I add a new contact to my Address Book or add a new appointment in my iCal in my iPhone, the update is pushed to iCloud online, which then pushes the updated information to both of my computers and my iPad.
So if I lose my iPhone, I have no need to worry about my contacts and calendars. They have been synced to iCloud and to any other device I have connected to it (computer, iPad, etc.).
iCloud also features something called “Find My iPhone,” which can track my iPhone if it gets stolen or if I misplace it.
That’s how I cover my ass in terms of backing up my system, my contacts and my calendars. Again, there are other options one can use to backup a system. The ones I’ve described just happen to work very well for me and my needs.
Thanks for reading.
Time Machine (for Mac)