There is no doubt about it if you’re not backing your data up then one day you’re going to regret it, if it hasn’t happened already. I’m not just talking about your computer but also your phones and other mobile devices. Certainly backing up used to be a chore, well certainly more of a chore than it is today. Cloud services are going some way to solving this problem but then you might prefer that your data isn’t saved online. There is also the problem that some data is big, like videos, and saving it online may not be practical regardless of how fast your internet connection is.
A lot is about to change for users of the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch with the introduction of iCloud, however, it’s not here yet, allegedly very soon. But it sounds like contacts, calendar entries, notes, apps (already seen this happening), music and video will all be saved online. This includes photos and videos you take with the device that you will have the option to upload automatically, there are some restrictions there as it will be limited to 1,000 photos or 30 days. More about this when it comes out.
In the meantime for mobile devices of any kind backing up is quite straightforward, you simply install software on your computer and when you connect the device it backs up. In the case of the Apple devices this is done via iTunes. This isn’t difficult as once connected it simply backs up everything. Yet, many people don’t do this. Then they lost their phone or it breaks and they want to know how to get the data back, each time I ask did you back it up. The reply is usually no and they expect by magic it will get restored.
If you haven’t done so do it now, well as soon as you finish reading this (I’ll remind you).
That’s mobile devices out of the way but what about your computer? There are a few different options here and there are different option for Windows and Mac. But there are some that apply to both. These are online backup services and work similarly on both. Some people don’t like the idea of online backups concerned that their data is out there and should be private. My understanding is it is not that simple to get the data and basically secure. However, if you have something like a list of passwords or bank details, well then maybe backing up online is not a good idea. Don’t get me wrong it is not that I think it is unsafe but if you’re concerned then save that data elsewhere. The majority of your data is probably not confidential.
So what do I actually use for my online backing up. Well I use Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) which is strictly speaking not a backing up service but a place to store your files and share them if you want to. You can share individual folders without sharing others. The advantage it is it is a sort of backup and you can retrieve the files from any computer and many devices with an internet connection. Now you get 2 GB free but you can pay for more. You can access the files either from a website or by using an app that creates a folder so it appears as any other folder on your computer, add or change files there and it automatically syncs online, you can then see these folders on other computers you have that also have the app and your details. I’ve also added the service that allows me to retrieve files that I’ve deleted in Dropbox and also to be able to look back at older versions. I like this. Oh yeah, it works on Windows, Apple and Linux. Dropbox also maintain that their system is secure. Question marks about its security may come from people who have poor security on their computers and not Dropbox.
For a genuine backing up service, and again can be logged into from another computer, I use Carbonite (www.carbonite.com), this does scheduled backups at set intervals that you decide. Like any backup system it only backs up the new and changed files. The first time you backup it can take some time. You choose what you want backed up. There is a free trial and if you decide to use it the cost is US$59 per year and the amount you can backup is unlimited and they maintain that it is secure.
So these are my two prefer options when online, although I also use Apple’s MobileMe, but that is changing to iCloud (I’ve been using the beta version of this and looks good), until it does I will leave that out of the equation. But I would like to say that when my phone was stolen earlier this year all my contacts and calendar entries were all backed up on it over the internet. Everything else was retrieved when I got a new phone and in a few steps had restored my data and settings from the backup to the new phone.
What about if you don’t want to use an online service and would prefer to backup to a CD, DVD, flash drive or external hard drive? This is where Windows and Apple differ as they use different software. They do the same thing just different programs. Both Windows 7 and Apple have built in back up solutions.
Now for that small reminder, go and back up your phone or mobile device now. Remember that is easy. Then start on your computer.