in Technology

Reader Question: Backing Up My Stuff

Crystal (website, twitter) emailed me this question regarding backing up her work:

I was hoping you could give me some tech advice/suggestions: how do you back up your work? External hard drives, I’d imagine? Do you store them on DVDs as well or is that antiquated? My one and only external hard drive decided to quit working today and I store ALL of my stuff (including computer backups) on it. I’m kind of freaking out. I can mount it temporarily but there’s a lot of GBs on there that would take hundreds of disks to back up to. So would it make sense to back up my external hard drive with another external hard drive? I need something that makes the most sense, is cheap, and takes little space on my desk. Please help!

My advice to Crystal went something like this:

  • Bite the bullet and buy another hard drive. $130 or so for plenty of space to back up your data. Having local backup that you can quickly access if you need to is important. Plus with Time Machine running you can very easily grab a previous version of a document if you make a mistake on one file – rather than having to re-install everything to get it back.
  • I use a paid Dropbox account to store all my client files (images, HTML/CSS files, contracts, meeting notes, etc.). Besides being an offsite backup, it makes it really easy to access something on my iPhone with the iOS app.
  • Finally I use Backblaze to keep a backup of my MacBook Air. Backblaze operates in the background, continuously backing up everything important on my laptop. Since I have a Time Machine backup hard drive at home connected to our iMac that I only occasionally connect to my Air, it’s nice to have another backup running in case a week or two goes by.

Backup. Backup. Backup.

  1. Where does backup end? Dropbox does a good job of important files and an external HD looks after everything else so there are two backups. Should we invest in Backblaze for 2 computers or just consider the macbook? Since I watch $$ I wonder if we stop paying the monthly cost down the road what happens to the backed up data? You know – when a better idea comes along – like next week!

  2. I think between Dropbox and the backup hard drives you should be ok. The only thing would be when you travel you probably don’t have a backup along with you, right? Maybe picking up a pocket/portable USB hard drive that’s kept somewhere else besides your laptop bag so you have a backup of your photos/etc.

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