Backup Your World

Yesterday, March 31st, was World Backup Day. Funny thing is, I was already thinking about and planning some new backup strategies for my household.

My family has several computers, and with me being the local admin slash I.T. guy for everyone — #techdad — I got to thinking about my kids’ data. It wasn’t being backed up and was only living on a local hard drive. So I wanted to find a good way to easily address that.

I also started to think about my own digital stuff, like my notes. I have not relied on any form of local backup for years, having grown accustomed to cloud sync/backup service from the makers of my own devices: Apple, Google, or Microsoft. I only pay for Apple’s iCloud for backup and cloud sync. The thing is, all my eggs are in that one basket. Stuff can go wrong, like a corrupt database file, which could wreck all my notes, for example. Yikes.

Speaking of yikes, I lost much data, including irreplaceable photos, several years ago due to a failed local hard drive in my only laptop. There was no way to retrieve the files as they were simply gone. It was the days of Windows XP, and that’s when I started burning data to backup DVDs or manually copying files to flash drives.

Things are a bit different now, but protecting personal files is no less important. So looking at options, I realized that, for my kids’ data, Windows 11 by default assumes everyone will just pay for OneDrive storage (5GB of free data isn’t enough). The “old” ways of doing local backups that once lived in Windows 7 and 10 are still available, but they’re buried in the old Windows Control Panel are are effectively deprecated. I don’t feel comfortable relying on that. Thankfully, my kids’ data size overall is small, so for now I’ve got each one auto-backed up to Google Drive, which provides a handy app to manage it all. It works well so far, and with Google’s free 15GB of cloud storage, we’re covered.

For my own data, I’m still unsure the best path forward. For my Apple Notes, I’ve used Apple’s service (via the Apple ID privacy page) to request a download copy of all my notes, which comes in a convenient file(s) and can be stored anywhere. macOS does still offer Time Machine for local backups, so I might spring for a cheap external SSD and get that going.

Still, I’m scratching my head over how I’ve come to rely on and totally trust one company to manage all my data in the cloud. On one hand, it makes sense because we now live in a very mobile computing and cloud computing paradigm. On the other hand, though all my data is persistent “everywhere” I log in, I’m still trusting a company to secure and protect my data and allow me full access to it on demand, even if it’s encrypted. Again, while today’s tech is advanced and more dependable than ever, it’s still able to fail at some point.

One other option I’m thinking about is Backblaze; I used that service many years ago on my first Mac. I’m not sure how it handles files on macOS but assume their solution is sound. Is it really necessary though?

Have you thought about your own data backup lately?