Computer backups are such an essential part of modern life that I feel no hesitation in saying if you’re not making regular backups of your files, then you’re using a computer wrong.
There’s no wiggle room on that one. If you’re not backing up your computer, then that behavior needs to change as soon as possible.
Luckily, making regular and even constant backups of all the files on your computer is easier now than it’s ever been. I grew up in a time when people would need to purchase a big ol’ zip drive, with floppy-like zip discs, to make backups of their information. The “cloud” wasn’t really a thing then and even external hard drives were tough to come by.
Imagine having to use this thing to make a backup of your computer:
What an inconvenient hassle. I’m very glad we’re living in a future where computer things have gotten way easier.
Option 1: Making a local backup
I’m a Mac user (when I’m not using my beloved iPad) and have, from its inception in 2007, made use of the convenient Time Machine application to make regular backups of all the files stored on my computer. There’s currently a 500 GB SSD drive attached to one of the Thunderbolt ports on my Mac and it’s quietly helping to protect me from any future data loss.
You can do this too if you have a Mac. It’s a feature that’s a part of every modern Mac.
Local backup on Mac
- Attach a hard drive (either one with a spinning drive or a solid-state drive) to your computer.
- Ensure the hard drive is formatted for use on Mac.
- Open up the System Preferences app and navigate to Time Machine.
- Click the button labeled Select Backup Disk... and choose the drive you attached to the computer.
- You can choose to encrypt the backups if you’d like, just make sure to never ever lose that encryption password.
- Select the button labeled Use Disk.
Time Machine will begin to immediately back up all your files to the hard drive. Depending on how much stuff you’re backing up, this first one may take a while to finish. After it’s done, though, you’ll have a complete backup, and future backups will take significantly less time.
If you’re a Windows user, then this process is also fairly simple. Aren’t computers great these days?
Local backup on Windows
- Attach a hard drive to your computer. Again, this can be just about any type of commercially available hard drive.
- Ensure the drive is formatted for use on Windows.
- Select the Start button and open the Settings app.
- Navigate to Update & Security → Backup.
- Under the heading “Back up using File History,” select the Add a drive button. Choose the drive you attached to your computer.
Windows will begin backing up your files to the external hard drive. As with Time Machine, this first backup will take some time. After it’s finished, you’ll have everything safely stored away and Windows will continue to make new backups as you create new files.
Option 2: Use a service like Backblaze
There are surely many services like Backblaze out there, but they’re the only ones I trust with my important files. I’ve used them for years, have never had an issue, and rest easy knowing my files are also backed up on their servers.
Backblaze is a cloud backup service, which means that an identical copy of your files is created and stored outside your computer and home. Should you ever suffer a drive failure and need to restore your computer, you can download your files over the internet, or they’ll even send you a hard drive with all your files on it.
Their personal backup plan is only $6 a month (or $60 a year) and it allows for unlimited backups of unlimited files of unlimited sizes. I can’t think of a better deal out there.
Some may balk at having to pay for “yet another subscription,” but I don’t believe that $6 a month is worth more than risking the loss of all your files forever.
I highly recommend you look into and use Backblaze.
I make use of both Time Machine and Backblaze for my backup needs because there should be maximum security for all my important (and even my not so important) files.
I have more than one backup happening because I believe in the idea that “two is one and one is none.” If I have a single backup of my files and that one fails, then all my files are lost. If I have two backups and lose one, then I still have one left over. Sure, theoretically, all my backups could fail simultaneously, but the odds of that are exceedingly high.
I encourage you to start making at least one backup of your files right now. Storage is relatively cheap these days, so there’s hardly an excuse not to do it. Believe me, you’ll thank your backup if you ever lose the files on your computer.
Protect yourself, cats.
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