I heard a saying years ago that the worst number in business is ’1′, meaning that if any part of the business is reliant on one factor then it may be overexposed to risks that could be reduced and managed.
For example, rather than have one employee performing many tasks from memory, a process can be created for all staff to follow, thereby reducing the risk if any of the employees are off work due to sickness or either they or you decide their future does not lie at the company.
This came to light for me a month or two ago when I realised that at home, all the information stored on our computers was at risk as we were not backing up all of the data (we have been backing up some).
It’s something that I’ve known about for a while, however it’s always been a job that’s been pushed down the to do list.
Our ’1′ would cause us big problems if the data was lost.
So I decided that we’d get this sorted and thought it would be useful to share my experiences with you in case it’s something you’re looking at (I did cover this subject in 2009 so we’re definitely due an update).
I decided early on that it would be sensible to have:
- All important data backed up to an external hard drive, automatically
- The same data backed up to ‘the cloud’ online, automatically
Whether you use a PC or a Mac, the same outcome can be achieved, although the process to get there may vary (our household uses Macs, so that’s what I’ll share here).
The first thing I did was configure Time Machine on the Mac. This is an amazing feature that doesn’t just back up your files, it backs up your whole machine. So if your Mac was stolen/lost, you could reinstate how your Mac was exactly as before using a new machine.
Think a brand new iPhone connected to iTunes where the original phone has been lost – all the data on iTunes would be pushed onto the iPhone.
What you do is connect your Mac to an external hard drive (I purchased a 2TB Time Capsule directly from Apple online) via ethernet. Whilst the Apple one isn’t the cheapest, it makes life a lot easier and after all, what price can you possibly put to all your data?
This process took about a week to complete for each Mac (we have 2).
The great thing about this set up is that every time the Mac is opened, Time Machine performs an automatic back up!
The next step was to decide upon an online cloud service. Whilst I have been using one particular provider for a few years for my Mac, it’s always wise to review the market periodically.
You may be familiar with some of the ones that made the shortlist:
- Sugar Sync
- Jungle Disk
As you’d expect, the price for storage/transfer of data was a crucial factor in deciding who to go with.
Between the 2 Macs, we needed 220gb of space, so you can see how the costs could mount up quite easily.
In the end I decided to stick with my current provider, Jungle Disk. The main reason was their pricing. With many of the others, you are offered XGB for a certain price. If you then use that capacity, you need to upgrade to the next pricing plan.
For example, with Dropbox I’d need to start with their 500GB plan for $500 pa or $50 pm. Also, all the files that you want backing up have to be placed in a special folder called Dropbox (strangely enough) on your PC/Mac.
I suppose this is ok, but personally I want to be able to back up my data with me deciding the file structure on my machine.
With Jungle Disk, you only pay for what you use so you’re never paying for unused capacity. In addition, your data is actually hosted by Amazon so you can be confident that it’s very secure.
All in all, for 220GB of data I’m paying approx $30 pm.
We’re backing up all our:
- Photos (and there’s a lot)
- iTunes library
Here are the steps I followed:
Sign up for a free account at Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service). This is where your data will be uploaded to.
In fact, your data will be held on the servers that run the Amazon empire (you can sign in with your Amazon log in details if you have an account).
The way the pricing works is that you will be charged to upload the data (this is normally the case but at the time of writing there’s no charge), as well as storing the data.
To store your data, you’ll pay $0.125 per GB. So, for 40GB that’s $5 per month! Also, your data is encrypted during uploading.
The only downside with S3 is that it’s not very user friendly to get your data onto their servers. This is where Jungle Disk comes in.
So the next step is to sign up for a Jungle Disk account.
I recommend the Desktop version.
This costs a $3 fee each month, in addition to the Amazon S3 storage costs. Jungle allows you to easily select the data from your hard drive for uploading. The beauty of this product though, is that once all your data is uploaded you can schedule regular back ups (I’ve chosen weekly). Only new/changed files will be uploaded.
So there you have it. The key now is to take action!
Before you forget about this and move on, I do encourage you to look into whichever option may be suitable for you. After all, if you did lose all your data, how would you cope with it?!