We were recently unlucky enough to break our computer (note: laptops and 750ml water bottles do not mix). If you’re anything like us, your entire life is pretty much contained in your computer. Photos, videos, kids’ first Photoshop efforts (OK, maybe that’s just us) are just a few of the irreplaceable things that only exist in digital form.
After the initial shock wore off, we realised that we were actually pretty lucky and that all of our data was backed up. We make a point of keeping multiple backups of everything we have, one copy at home and one copy off-site.
Our local copy is handled through Apple’s Time Machine. Windows Vista has similar functionality through it’s Backup and Restore Center. For XP users, check out Lifehacker’s excellent backup tool round-up.
Having a local backup is a great start but it still doesn’t protect you from catastrophic failure like fire, floods and power surges,. The only way to really be sure is to have an off-site backup. One way to do that is to simply backup to an external drive periodically and take it somewhere else (a friend, the office, etc.) But then if you forget to update your backup you’re back to where you started.
Enter online backups. There are many of them around, with various levels of service, but the one we’ve been using for nearly six months is Backblaze. For just US$5.00 per computer per month, all your data is constantly backed up in a similar way to Time Machine. Files can be restored via downloads, or shipped on DVDs or USB hard drives. We’ve had to rely on Backblaze restores a couple of times and have been very thankful that they’ve been there. Officially it only supports Windows, but we’ve been using the beta for Mac and it’s been working perfectly.
You can get a free one-month trial by sighing up at Backblaze. Plus, to celebrate Backup Awareness Month, Backblaze is giving away a free 1-year membership every day and also a free Nikon Coolpix P90 camera at the end of the month. How many more incentives do you need? Just mention you heard it from us! (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Note: Check your broadband plan before signing up to any online backup service to make sure you have unlimited uploads, otherwise you could get a nasty surprise when you get your bill.